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A Guide to Facilitating Remote Workshops and Virtual Meetings by SessionLab
March 27, 2020
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Running online meetings and workshops is something many of us are having to do in the wake of lockdowns and social distancing.

Remote workshops are great for keeping teams connected, being productive while working from home, though they present their own challenges too. 

SessionLab’s guide on facilitating and running online workshops and meetings is full of tips on design, planning and running workshops remotely, to help you make your online sessions more effective and collaborative.
Online Workshop Templates

Getting started is easier with a template. Whether you’re running an innovation workshop or a team alignment session, we have in-depth facilitation guides to help you create an effective session. We’re developing more agenda templates for remote workshops and have just added our first two.

Guide your team through a process of reflection and ideation on next steps in a fully online setting with this one-hour remote retrospective.  Looking for a full-day online workshop to tackle a complex challenge? Use this online problem-solving workshop template to engage a remote team in identifying challenges and developing appropriate solutions in a process inspired by design thinking and growth design.
Find Effective Techniques for your Next Online Workshop

Our library of 700+ facilitation methods, exercises and games is a resource we’re proud of and continue to develop. We’ve added a section of remote-friendly methods you can use in your next online workshop or meeting. These include tips or instructions for running them in a remote setting and we’ll be adding more soon!  Have a method you’d like to contribute or add? Reply to this email – we’d love to hear from you!
Tools to Run Your Sessions Online 

As far as videoconferencing goes, we’ve asked our SessionLab customers and Zoom clearly takes the lead with superior call quality, reliability, and facilitator-friendly features such as the ability to use breakout rooms for small group discussions. But how about tools for visual collaboration? See our tips and some examples of great collaboration tools below:
Mural is an online whiteboard tool that is great for teams wanting to collaborate visually and in real-time. It features heaps of templates to get you started and great remote-friendly features such as running a voting session inside the app and inviting anonymous users and guests without having to buy a short term license. Mural starts at $12, though you can now get Mural for free for 3 months if you and your organization have been affected by the current pandemic.
Miro is another great online whiteboard that features the ability to upload images, creating notes and draw on an infinite canvas, all in real time. The app also offers a great template library to conveniently find the right structure you need for your whiteboard. You can even integrate with third party apps using Zapier to connect your various tools easily. The free version offers up to 3 boards for your team to work with. 
Stormboard is great if you’re working on idea generation, organization and prioritization and want to collaborate remotely with ease. It also has great reporting and recording features which can make sharing the notes from a meeting simple and effective across your entire organization. The free version of Stormboard offers 5 boards with maximum 5 collaborators for each.
Axis aims to digitise workshop facilitation and participation: it allows you to build up a workshop from pre-defined blocks (such as brainstorming and decision making methods) and then effectively run that workshop with remote participants. Axis is a great way to speed up and simplify the online facilitation process. Our friends at Axis are offering extended trials to the SessionLab community now (enter the code SLABFREEMONTH at checkout!)
Stormz, the online workshop delivery platform focuses on professional facilitators: you can ask participants to give their input on questions you generate in the app, generate ideas and make collective decisions directly from their laptop, tablet or mobile phones. Stormz works great in combination with Zoom or other video conferencing software and can be a very effective way of helping engage your participants online. 
Mentimeter is a great tool to help engage and energize your participants in an online or remote setting. Interacting online can be tricky to handle – Mentimeter makes this simple and easy, allowing people to log-in from their mobile devices and contribute in real-time. Using a tool like this makes it easy to get feedback from a large number of participants without getting bogged down in crosstalk and you can show the results visually too!

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