I wanted to share a story with you, this time last week I was about to embark on hosting a 4.5 hour leadership development workshop on Zoom so I took to my Instagram account to ask for tips on how to stay engaged, excited and alert for such a mammoth task ahead. I was inundated with tips, suggestions, words of encouragement and also several don’t dos about how to run a good virtual workshop.
Whilst I realise that such a long session might send many of your running for the hills, it was an opportunity in the diary we had to deliver a milestone programme to a group of individuals and we were keen not to miss this chance. So, what worked and what are the top tips worth sharing?
1. Military precision on agenda timings and ensure all speakers are clued up and ready – including logistics about who is screen sharing and who is hosting etc. We had some behind the scenes scurrying when we realise the wrong person had host rights.
2. Eyes to camera – try hard to look at your camera when listening and speaking. It really makes a huge difference to those watching and creates a stronger sense of connection.
3. Break-out – if possible use break-out rooms (there is a facility in zoom to do this) to allow small-group work. Perhaps pose a question or a challenge for smaller groups to consider and report back on. It really helps change the energy levels and re-engage people after a larger group session.
4. Recognise that it is a really different format to a face to face session and therefore, not everyone will want to participate in the same way. Encourage people to share but only if they feel comfortable to. Also recognise that not everyone will want their camera on – perhaps suggest that for the small break-out sessions cameras could be on to help the discussion but ultimately it’s down to personal preference.
5. Create lots of opportunities to recharge batteries with short, regular breaks, and periods of standing and movement. We scheduled several short 5 minute breaks, a longer coffee break where we kept the session running and people dived in and out from a group discussion.
6. Build in breath work – deep breathing exercises to enhance clarity and create calm and focus before a new topic.
7. Use different technology tools to support the session that provide the audience a different way to engage – live question polls, mood or energy checkers.
8. Set mini-challenges and make it fun and light-hearted – try and create a sense of teaming and togetherness, ask the speakers to share more personal stories – telling the story of where they are in their homes, what’s happened that morning etc.
I hope that you found these tips helpful and I’ve tagged most of the kind individuals who sent these through to me! If you’d like to find out more about the leadership development workshops we run and our executive coaching work, please do get in touch.