Can you see my screen? Tips to ace virtual facilitation
June 10, 2021
By this point, you’re a pro at attending meetings in a virtual environment. Now, it’s your turn to lead a meeting and you don’t know where to start.
Whether you’re hosting a one-hour meeting, workshop series, or full-day session, here are some things that you will want to consider to ace virtual facilitation.
Before the session
You’ll need two types of tools for successful facilitation online: a conferencing platform and collaboration tools.
- Aside from the obvious benefits, like talking with and seeing your participants, conferencing platforms also have features like breakout rooms and live polls that help with engagement. We like Zoom.
- Online tools for collaboration are helpful for idea generation – the replacement for flipchart paper and markers.
- Make it easy for people to capture their ideas by setting up clear templates where thoughts can be recorded. Be ready to give folks a run-through on technology; show them the tools and how you want them to use it before putting them into breakout rooms! Our favorites are Google Docs and Stormboard.
Prepare and practice
- It can be tempting to wing online facilitation, but a detailed facilitator agenda with timeframes can help keep the meeting moving smoothly.
- Make sure you can easily navigate your environment. It doesn’t need to be seamless, but you don’t want it to look like it’s your first time. Setting up time to run-through with co-worker is one way to ensure you’re on the right track and ready to use the technology.
- Asking a colleague to co-facilitate helps with note taking, handling technology issues, and monitoring the chat…and for that worst case scenario where you lose your internet connection, they can step in (assuming you are in different locations).
During the session
- Sharing your agenda at the outset helps manage participant expectations. If people don’t have their own copy of the agenda, periodically flag where you are in the meeting, especially if it’s longer than one hour – this limits questions about breaks and gives everyone an idea of where the session is going.
- If you’ve ever attended one of our Learning4Impact workshops, you’ve probably noticed that we put you into breakout rooms pretty early on. The thought behind it is: if you’re engaged at the beginning, you’ll (hopefully) be an active participant throughout. Plus—group work keeps us accountable (a.k.a. you can’t hide silently behind a black Zoom screen).
- Having someone talk at you for an hour or two gets boring — visuals can keep people engaged. Don’t be afraid to use slides, pictures, videos and even polls where relevant.
REMEMBER! You don’t want to rely too heavily on PowerPoint and read every word off your screen. Slides should compliment content but not overshadow it.
After the session
While not every session requires follow-up, it can be a forgotten step. Maybe it’s as simple as emailing out high-level meeting minutes. Or you might want to send along comprehensive session notes and resources. If you’re running an online workshop or training session, another idea is to send out short survey to gather feedback and see what can be improved for next time.
Want to learn more about how to share information effectively in presentations? We have a workshop for that called Delivery Matters. Keep an eye out on our calendar for our next offering.
Rather have someone come and facilitate a meeting or consultation for you? We can help! Reach out to learn more—firstname.lastname@example.org.