The Three Ts of Running Effective Remote Workshops

by Shaun Miller Codehouse

Digital experience agency Codehouse has pulled together a few tips and tricks for organisations looking to run effective remote workshops when we can’t be together in person.

With the UK and much of the world in lockdown or working from home, webinars and video calls abound, and many people are missing the human interaction and intellectual debate that comes with brainstorming and workshops.

But running a virtual workshop is possible, and it can be just as effective as when everyone is in the room together. It just takes a bit of planning, a little know-how, and the right tools. Here’s three t-t-t-tips to help.

1. Teams

The first thing you need to do is decide who’s going to be involved. It’s important to have the right people on the call – the ones with the area knowledge, the colleagues with decision-making power, and the stakeholders who might be affected by what’s going to be discussed.

Then there’s the before, during, and after to think about.

Before your workshop, you need to make sure everyone is available and freely giving of their time, knows what the workshop is about, and that they have access to the tools you’re going to use – more on that below.

During the workshop, it’s important that you keep to the precise point of discussion and don’t go off on tangents. People’s time is precious – in the office, and virtually. It’s important you decide exactly what you’re going to cover in the workshop and why, and make sure everyone understands this.

After the workshop, what are you going to do? Be clear with all attendees from the outset what your organisation is looking to achieve, and what is going to change or be attempted after the workshop that will endeavour to improve things for your brand.

One last point on teams. Think about the timing for your workshop. Do you need to include colleagues from around the world in different time zones? How long will you hold the workshop for? One hour is probably not enough. More than two hours and people start to lose interest.

The timing and the team will make or break your remote workshop.

2. Tools

To ensure your remote workshop runs smoothly, you need the right tools – to communicate, and to capture.

You’ll need a combination of video, be it Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, Google Meet or something else, and software that allows all attendees to have their say – tools that act like a virtual whiteboard where your colleagues can stick their online Post-it note thoughts and opinions.

Make sure everyone has access to and is familiar with the tools before your virtual workshop – make sure to have a dry run to check.

3. Techniques

Lastly, there are a few techniques to getting remote workshops right that are different from when you’re running them in person, and you’ll probably need a few practice runs to get it right.

Make sure you assign a co-facilitator. This person can help run the workshop with you, and help conversation and thoughts flow whilst you might be busy capturing thoughts and ideas.

Decide on a note-taker. This person does what it says on the tin. Whilst the software you use to capture interaction will help, some good ideas or comments can often be missed. This is where the note-taker can help.

Finally, ensure you have a time-keeper. Their job is to make sure you’re keeping to schedule, you’re moving on to the next section of the agenda at the right time, and that everyone’s valuable time is spent wisely and judiciously.

So, there’s our three quick tips to running effective remote workshops.

This Thursday (14 May), Shaun Miller, Digital Strategy and UX Consultant at Codehouse, will be discussing this topic in more detail in the first of a series of Figaro Digital webinars. Register here to secure your place.