NAVIGATING THE VIRTUAL WORLD
The field of innovation consulting and design thinking has always been flexible, with service delivery possible across the globe at any time.
Now, with everyone interacting online, meetings and workshops all being delivered virtually, we put together some helpful tips to make this process easier.
(We spoke to some facilitators, did some online research to bring this curated set of pointers, so you don't have to go looking in 10 places before finding one useful tip!)
Creating, designing and developing a framework for online meetings, workshops is not easy. Here are some practical pointers.
AS A FACILITATOR BE WELL VERSED IN YOUR COMM TOOL.
There is only so many times people can listen to the whole 'hang on, let me fiddle with this', or make weak jokes 'it was there just this morning, guess it's feeling <day of the week> fatigue too' or worse, 'guess Friday started early for someone'.
Updates keep happening so make sure you know how everything works.
FOR GROUP SESSIONS
There HAS to be a welcome introduction or connection. Does not matter if it is the same people every time.
SIMPLE INTRODUCTIONS: Ask everyone to say their name and how they're feeling. If that would be too long or you think people might not talk, here are some ideas:
ONE WORD CARDS
Ask everyone to write down one word that says how they are feeling. Ask them to put it up to the camera and take a screenshot of that! Send it to everyone later...doesn't take much effort and makes it more personal.
STRETCH + DECOMPRESS
This is a great icebreaker any time of the day. Ask people to stand up and stretch! (They can turn off their cameras if it makes them conscious).
If your session is toward middle / end of the day, ask participants to switch off their cameras and decompress for a few minutes. Make sure to tell them not to log off, but just turn off cameras. Some days we are on several virtual sessions, we are on hyper alert mode in virtual sessions and it all gets a bit too much.
TAKE A BREAK
If your sessions is 90 minutes or longer, take a break in between.
Ask participants to turn off their cameras and decompress (See above).
Ask people to send one image of something interesting they did that weekend and share it. Alternately, ask for images from their travels/ vacations and quickly describe it in ONE WORD! Something fun and won't take long. (This only works when the group is more playful or know each other).
You can use tools like Mentimeter and ask up to 3 questions for free. If you are using Zoom or Skype, you can use their built-in poll option. (This is why we said get familiar with the interface beforehand!!)
FOR CLOSING / EXITING SESSIONS
Keep time for this, at least 10 minutes.
Close with kind words, and end with what happens next.
ONE WORD CARDS AGAIN
Ask participants to write one word on how the meeting was on a piece of paper and hold it up to the camera; take a screenshot, you can review it later.
ASK A QUESTION
Instead of asking how the session was (they may only say neutral or nice things, which is not really helpful), ask a pointed question:
- what went well
-what could have been better
-what was one takeout from the session
-something specific about the topic...
Ask them to write no more than one sentence, take a screenshot to analyze later.
Nothing beats an old fashioned waving goodbye. Do it before signing off, others will follow suit!
If you have a group that is playful or fun, ask them to do something funky- a weird dance move or a funny face to say good bye. Everyone does it at once and take a screen shot!
USE POLLS FOR FEEDBACK
See no.5 on the left.
USE A TELEPROMPTER APP
It can be a lifesaver if you have to do longer and more intense bits, with lots of facts. They are easy to use and very professional. You write the script, upload it to the app and use it when recording or live chatting. You can find some options here.
Make everyone feel included, even if they are not responsive. Many are conscious how they look or sound and many do not have anything to say, it somehow feel less intense in-person. So do make sure you mention everyone now and then.
Do NOT lose your patience! YOU gain nothing from this- whether you called the meeting or are participating, no matter how tired you are, do not lose your temper on others.
These are fun for larger groups, more intimate and less on-the-spot feeling for participants.
We cannot say this enough times. Use built-in whiteboards or get an external one like AWW.
Share screen to allow participants to make their point. Or for fun doodling.
For a better and easier experience for the facilitator, see if you (facilitator) can hook up a tablet to the laptop and have the white screen on the tablet, makes it easier to write!
FUN ICE BREAKERS
-- Sing together, really!
-- Draw together. Pick a topic or sub topic related to your meeting or workshop and get everyone drawing on the whiteboard.
--Tell a story. But.....each one says one sentence only and there is no topic or guidelines (except asking to keep it professional and not use foul language).
-- Mirroring. The facilitator makes a move and everyone copies / follows... move hands, wave, make a face, dance! all depends on how playful the group is and how the facilitator feels about it.
BUILD TRUST... VISUALLY!
Celebrate curiosity: Each person picks something they see in another person's space and ask them to talk about it. It might be a mundane description or they may say something meaningful. Either way, sparks conversation.
Conversely, ask people to pick one object in the space they are sitting in, (including what they are wearing) and talk about it. This allows them to talk about something they are familiar with and are no longer hesitant. This also tells you something personal about them.
Above all, meeting facilitators, bosses and owners MUST be comfortable sharing something themselves. You CANNOT ask others to do something you are not willing to do yourself.
SHOW UP ON TIME!
We all have stuff to do and virtual meetings and workshops are new to most of us, and now suddenly you are probably doing multiple of those in a day! But spare a thought to those who have designed and developed it, it is only respectful to show on time, or inform ahead of your delay.
IF YOU GET JADED TRY ONE OF THESE: Ask for a comfort break if it is getting too long and intense. Stretch off-camera (or on, if you are comfortable). At a point where you don't have to speak, turn off camera, mute the mike, step away splash some cold water on your face and come back. No one will miss you, we promise!
KNOW THE INTERFACE
We cannot say this enough times. Even though you are not presenting, know where everything is. Especially mute and camera off! No one wants to hear you in the bathroom, or worse see you! Do NOT take your laptop / device on which you are doing the meeting to places that are too personal- your bedroom, the bathroom, clothes closet- you get the idea. If you have to do it in a personal space, clean up beforehand (or use a different background). Really, do it.
PARTICIPATE, DO NOT BE CONSCIOUS
It feels like being put on the spot and everyone looking at you directly, paying extra attention to what you're saying. Well, the good news is, not everyone is listening! And everyone else is feeling the same way too... and really, you are in that meeting to learn / contribute to something regarding work or professional advancement. So don't sweat, know that the facilitator is hyper stressed, way more than you!
PAY ATTENTION TO CAMERA AND LIGHTS!
---Keep the video camera at eye or higher level, avoid low angles. It is more flattering visually and people can see your eyes, eye contact is very important.
----Sit with light in front of you so your face is well-lit. It makes a huge difference.
----Don't touch your face or hair. It is healthier and touching / playing with hair indicates less confidence.
----See what you look like on-camera. Take a mock call using the same webcam you will use for your meetings to see how you look, what your mannerisms are like. Make tweaks accordingly.
----Use a suitable background if what you have at home is not flattering, is dark etc. Alternately, blur the background.
These will significantly improve your behavior and participation!
DON'T BE THAT GUY!!
Here's a funny take on how virtual meetings work (or don't!!!!). And the difficulties of working from home.
As much as you think they are exaggerating, they're not! These things happen more often than you'd imagine!
See video here.
(Knowbe4.com is an integrated platform for security awareness and training. The views expressed in the video is not that of QV Consulting and we cannot be held responsible for that.)