When it became a reality, the pandemic shook the world. It made life difficult for community builders and event organizers. Their events and workshops could not be held in person so they had to go online. The big question was:
Are virtual events as interesting and effective as those held in person?
We realized that was.
Virtual events can be made more engaging by using tools and video conferencing platforms. These virtual workshops are a departure form the traditional ideas that everyone relies on for their online sessions.
Idea 1: Conduct collaborative mind mapping sessions
Mind mapping can be used in workshops and is a popular activity for team building. This is a collaborative, written version to brainstorming in which members choose a topic and then jot down any information.
For example, the word “time management” can be correlated to words such as “organization,” monitoring, and supervision. Teams can then group related words and work together in order to create themes that can be used to solve organizational problems.
To create virtual mindmaps, you can use tools such as Miro. Eventalways even has a Miro integration, which makes it simple to bring it up during the workshop.
Set a time limit so members can write down their thoughts and then join a call to share key learnings. You never know what you might find this time.
Idea #2: Host virtual icebreakers
Although it might seem silly to host an icebreaker while everyone is online and calling from different rooms, virtual Icebreakers can make an audience feel more comfortable and connected.
These do not have to be elaborate or complicated. In fact, the simpler the better if your goal is to get everyone to take part. It’s possible to get everyone to give a quick tour of their homes or share six-word memories.
This is a great way to get to know new people and communities. It’s difficult to meet up in real life so you can give your audience something to share during your workshop.
Idea #3: Separate members into virtual breakout rooms
“breakout rooms” and “breakout sessions”, which are in-person workshops, allow participants to be divided into groups to brainstorm and discuss specific topics. This concept can also be applied in virtual workshops.
A video-meeting platform that encourages engagement and participation, Eventalways allows participants to quickly break into groups and then get to know one another and collaborate on topical discussions in a seamless manner.
It’s also the only platform that lets you pre-design breakout activities like Card or Question Prompt. Participants can move freely between themed breakout areas.
#4 Let everyone submit virtual sketches
It doesn’t matter if you are in animation or not, sketching ideas can be very useful. This could be one of those ideas that creates engagement in virtual workshops.
Everybody has a different learning style. Some people are more adept at listening to announcements or reading instructions. Others, however, are more comfortable using visual cues to convey information and learn from them.
This activity could work well for virtual workshops, especially after you have exhausted the speaker-listener format. Splitting up into “breakout rooms”, teams can draw sketches on different areas of the Miro whiteboard.
It is good to try different methods of brainstorming and ideating. Virtual sketches are a great exercise.
#5 Get a virtual design thinking session
Design Thinking is a common methodology in software development that solves complex problems. All kinds of businesses use design thinking to improve customer experience and create new products.
It is customer-centric, which is why it is so popular. Customers love it because it puts them at the heart of all it processes and frameworks.
Many design thinking workshops use sticky notes in the brainstorming phase. One sticky note represents one idea. Sticky notes can be useful as it allows people to grab an idea and then bucket it with similar ideas. Then they can move it around. This activity can be done online by teams using a whiteboard. This is one of those ideas that you can adapt to fit the type of workshop you’re running.
Teams can use virtual whiteboards to continue brainstorming and solving problems even during the pandemic.
This allows the host or participant to direct them to other participants with similar interests, or to engage participants in discussion with others with different opinions.
#6 Conduct temperature tests through physical cues
Do you know how facilitators or workshop speakers pause during a program to ask the audience how they are doing?
This is called a temp check and it can be useful when you want to know how your audience or coworkers feel at the moment.
Are they following your thought process? Are they able to agree with you? Is it possible that they are losing you?
Their facial expressions, posture and gestures can help you gauge their engagement. Engaged people will lean forward in their chairs if they do so. They may be becoming impatient if they are constantly tapping their feet.
These visual cues can be difficult to spot in a virtual environment. Instead, ask your audience members to make cue cards. They can have the numbers 1 to 5, or smiley and frowning faces, on each card. This will help you to show how they feel during your program.
When you stop and ask them if their pace is maintaining, they will simply raise their cue cards. You can then take a break or continue based on their feedback.
#7 – Make your virtual presentations more beautiful
Without a presentation, what workshop is complete? A presentation that is effective is concise, clear, and engaging, regardless of the platform. Online, however, your presentation style will be different.
Physical cues are not the best way to stress certain points. It’s difficult to get your audience’s attention when Facebook Messenger is open in one their tabs.
To keep your audience engaged, you will need to add useful interaction tools to your presentation. You can use real-life props, such as a camera, to show your idea. You can also ditch Microsoft Excel and use Prezi, a dynamic and non-linear presentation tool.
You can also integrate interactive tools such as polls and virtual quizzes to increase live interaction. We’ll be discussing this next.
#8 Incorporate chats, polls and anonymous voting into the program
Online, audience participation can be very different thanks to interactive tools such as chats, polls and anonymous voting.
Virtual chats are a way for audience members to leave questions in the middle or at the end of the talk. You can also use it to discreetly update the speaker, such as “BRB bathroom break” and “NO SOUND!”
Members can participate by voting anonymously and taking part in polls. Ask them what topic they’d like to discuss next or what activity they’d like to do to combine their learnings. You can make it anonymous if attendees are nervous about voting.
Consider them co-creators. By providing the tools, they can help choose the workshop and program they want. This not only makes the session more enjoyable for attendees but also gives you insight into how to make your next workshop even better.
In the past, there were two platforms that you could use for audience engagement and video conferencing. Eventalways now offers engagement activities directly through their video meeting platform. This saves a lot of time and increases the participation rate in the virtual rooms.
#9 Play virtual quizzes
Although workshops are intended to be informative, they don’t need to be lecture-listener format. Your workshop should be more practical if you want your audience to remember and use the information you have shared.
Quizzes can be used to stimulate learning and provide exciting ideas for virtual workshops. It will not only stimulate the participants’ competitiveness and encourage them to participate actively in the workshop but it will also motivate the audience to absorb as much information as possible.
#10 Leadership and host sales training
Research shows that virtual sales and leadership trainings can be very useful in this age of self-quarantine.
By 2024, the global e-learning market will have reached US$238 million. This is due to the increasing demand for optimized content. This is due to the growing adoption of self-paced learning modules in the corporate sector.
It is important that your program provides useful information and has functionalities to make it effective. Gamify the experience by hosting breakout sessions or playing virtual quizzes. You can also track their emotions using physical cues. You can actually use any of these ideas to enhance your training program.
If you haven’t started training online, now is the time.
The virtual workshop is a powerful tool for community builders and event organizers in this age of decentralized learning and remote teams. This is a powerful tool for bringing people together, especially when you use these creative ideas for virtual workshops.