When you shift from holding in-person workshops to remote ones, there are bound to be additional challenges. You may have to fight away distractions, or people could disappear for a while due to poor internet connectivity. Communicating, as a whole, could become quite challenging, especially since you cannot see someone’s body language.
Remote workshops typically require more time and interaction. They also raise the bar in terms of virtual facilitation and preparation. Not to forget, there are studies that indicate that overusing videoconferencing can cause Zoom fatigue. You do not want to tire out your attendees, do you?
So, are you ready to make your next remote workshop a success? You have come to the right place!
Let’s first take a look at a few of the many challenges that arise during remote workshops.
The Common Challenges Of Remote Workshops
You lose a lot when you begin interacting with the surface of a screen instead of humans. These are some of the common challenges you´re likely to face:
1. Limited Or No Access To A Participant’s Body Language
Looking at a person through a video camera does not make it easy to analyze their body language. In remote workshops, people are usually visible from the chest up. Hello, sweatpants and a dress shirt!
But while the participant is comfortable at home, you need help seeing if they are interacting, engaging, disagreeing, or confused with what you are saying.
2. Challenging To Build Connection And Trust
Taking away the physical element could also mean that you will have a difficult time building trust with the participants or establishing a connection with them. This may cause remote workshop attendees to feel a little uncomfortable during some activities, like sketching.
3. Limited Or No Access To Any Physical Tools
Have you ever attended any in-person workshops? At times, post-it notes and pens are passed around during the session to allow people to write something down. This could be an idea, a picture, or a quote.
But you cannot do the same thing in a virtual setting.
4. Weak Internet Connectivity
Have you noticed that when you want your internet to work without a hitch, it tends to shut down or cause problems? You will find so many videos and gifs on the internet from people complaining about how crappy their internet can be, particularly when they want to be productive. The same could happen to you during remote workshops.
It is common for the screen to freeze and people to drop out during virtual meetings. This usually happens at inopportune moments. Yikes!
5. A Lot Of Distractions
There are many distractions that you and the participants could face during remote workshops. Email, slack, cats, dogs, partners, kids, and so much more could cause you to lose focus.
Now you know some of the major challenges that may arise during a remote workshop. But as the host, how can you combat them?
Little-Known Methods To Successfully Execute Remote Workshops
While these difficulties are pervasive and apparent, there are numerous ways through you which you can reduce them.
1. Shorten The Sessions
Workshops often go on for an entire day or a couple of hours for a few days. While you are trying to cram a lot of information into these sessions, longer ones could be more effective sometimes. When participants start to get bored, their minds could wander off into space. You don’t want that now, do you?
What you can do in such situations is to reduce the length of the sessions. Remote workshops do not include any bonding or camaraderie and could get distracted easily.
Try to limit yourself to 2 to 3 hours and spread the sessions over a few days. Studies suggest that for sessions that are 2 hours long, you take a break of 5 minutes after every half an hour to take a breather.
2. Mix Up The Activities
Activities are an important part of a workshop, as they help keep the participants engaged. They also help them build connections and work as a team. Before you decide on the activities for the event, think about the outcomes you want to achieve. These should help decide how you are going to keep things interesting.
Feel free to include a couple of straightforward games and a few that require creativity. It will make your session interactive for everyone.
For example, you could break up the groups into smaller ones to encourage healthy discussions and debates. There is also the option of doing fun activities, like Zombie Cats and Reverse Brainstorming.
3. Choose The Right Tools
Tools are especially helpful when the time comes to hold remote workshops. Take all the time you need to make a list of various tools, including some for collaboration and video conferencing.
Also, make sure to tell the participants and your team to download the required items before the start of the workshop. Do test them in advance to avoid any problems later!
Below are some tools you can use.
Task Helpful Tools Video Conferencing Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, Whereby Polls and Surveys Typeform, Google Forms, SurveyMonkey Note Taking Notion, Evernote, Google Docs, OneNote Whiteboarding Mural, Miro, Stormboard Task Management Trello, Asana, Todoist Document Sharing and File Storing Google Drive, OneDrive, DropBox, Design Tools Figma, Canva
4. Have a Defined Agenda
Instead of launching right into the activities for the day, start off by sharing the agenda of your remote workshop. This way, the participants will know exactly what to expect and be focused on a purpose.
5. Bring In An Interesting Ice Breaker
Since you aren’t interacting with the participants face-to-face, an icebreaker can be an interesting way to make them smile. Try to get one person to pick up an object and the others to find the same object around them.
You could also try ‘two truths and a lie’, ‘hopes and fears’, ‘twenty questions’, and ‘ten things about you’ to get people to bond.
Ready to Make Engaging Workshops?
Running remote workshops is a challenging task and requires you to demonstrate high levels of leadership and focus. While it is challenging to keep people interested and interactive, you can surely achieve this goal with the methods mentioned above.
Try to think outside the box, be bold, and try out new methods!