There is a way to get your virtual workshop participants to turn their cameras on and be more present and engaged every single time.
We all have zoom fatigue. Even though more of us are returning to the office, virtual workshops are not going anywhere.
It's hard to get people engaged and present when you're in person, and adding the virtual side makes it even harder.
I run over 100 workshops a year at the Fountain Institute, which averages to about 2 a week.
When going from an all-day in-person workshop to, let's say, a 4-hour virtual workshop, your instinct might be to cut out the "fluff" from the workshop. You might be tempted to jump right into the meat of things.
But you can't skip parts that you deem "unimportant." Sure, people's time is valuable. You want to jump straight to brainstorming solutions or mapping out your teams assumptions, but should you?
Alignment moments, group introductions, and team-building activities are just as important as a tangible task you can add to Jira.
Energizers are your secret weapon.
They might feel corny or a waste of time, but energizers are powerful tools to bring the group together. It is also a low-stakes way to have people participate before you get into heavier activities and decision-making.
What is an energizer?
"Energizers are activities used in workshops and group situations to help participants be more alert and active; they can also be an important way of people getting to know and understand one another" (source)
What makes a great virtual energizer?
When researching energizers or trying to come up with one of my own, I look for three different factors that make an ideal virtual energizer.
1. Cameras on - participants must have their cameras on for the activity to work.
For example, in Touch Something Blue, you ask everyone to find something in their house that is blue (or any other adjective) and share it with the camera. The last to share, choose the next type of object for the group to find.
2. Bodies moving - participants must move their bodies during the activity.
For example, you ask serious or funny questions that the group can answer with a yes or no. Participants answer yes by bending to the left or no by bending to the right.
3. Under 5 minutes - a group of 15 must all be able to participate in under 5 min.
For example, in Pass the Ball improv activity, you are tossing an imaginary ball that changes in size and weight from person to person. You can explain the exercise and throw this virtual ball to 15 people in under 5 minutes.
When to use an energizer?
You can use these energizers at the beginning of your workshop to kick things off and get everyone in the right mindset. But I also love doing one after a break in the middle of a workshop.
It's time to make time for energizers in your workshops.
You will see a difference in how fruitful the "important" parts of your workshops are when you make time for energizers.
Are you ready to start designing engaging workshops where your team immediately asks you when they can do it again?
Then take this free email short course on designing & facilitating workshops.
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Until next week!
Educator & Co-Founder
The Fountain Institute
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