Activities for making online facilitation rock

Trainers Adam Lawrence and Renatus Hoogenraad share three ideas for activities to make online facilitation rock!

October 2021
Trainers Adam Lawrence and Renatus Hoogenraad share three ideas for activities to make online facilitation rock!

Trainers Adam Lawrence and Renatus Hoogenraad are the This is Doing Rockstar facilitators and share their knowledge on their Facilitation Fundamentals for co-creation course. We caught up with them at the last Doing Design Festival to learn more about activities each one of us can use to make online facilitation rock! Here are three favourite activities from that session.

Activity 1: Post-It Peepshow

Ever struggle with getting people to turn their cameras on? Use a Post-It Peepshow at the beginning of a session to learn about the audience while encouraging participation and a cameras-on mindset. Here's how:

Say: I am going to ask you to cover your camera with something that is close by. It could be your hand or a piece of paper. We are going to have a kaleidoscope of colors, which is lovely.

Next, I'm going to ask you some questions. The answer to the question might be yes or no. If the answer is yes, please uncover your camera and show your face.

  • Are you currently at home? If the question is if the answer is yes, please show your face.
  • Are you alone at home? Uncover your camera if you could make as much noise as you'd like and nobody would care.
  • Do you have a special mic you're using? If that's the case, show me your face.
  • Do you have special light that you've set up whether it's a professional lamp or just a window that you arrange yourself near?
  • Do you have a lot of experience facilitating online meetings?
  • And the final question is show your face if your arm is getting tired..."

Mix up the questions based on the need for your session. And, of course, recognize the responses between questions with comments like "Not so many of us. Okay, good to know" or "This is nice. We have a lot of people who are already rock and roll during this session."

Activity 2: Avalanche of Suck

We are not brains on sticks. We are whole human beings and we have whole human being needs. Sometimes things suck. It's okay to talk about.

Here is one way to facilitate a discussion about what's not working so we can move ahead to what will work.

  1. Send participants into breakout rooms of about 4 people for about 5 minutes to discuss what sucks. For example: What sucks about online facilitation, or generally about online work?
  2. When the breakout rooms end, it's time for the avalanche - a slightly different way of sharing back.
  3. Let people know: "We're gonna ask you to write something in the chat. And wait a moment, do not press enter. You will press enter when we tell you. Why does online suck? You have conversations? Give us a short answer to that question but don't press enter yet."
  4. As people are writing, put on some music or narrate with some additional context like: "You still have about 20 seconds to write something down. It doesn't need to be alive story. snippets. Please do not press enter. Do not press the red button. I know it's tempting."
  5. Open the avalanche saying something like: "Okay, and we are going to press the red button in 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Go for it. Yeah. Yeah, look at all those reasons why online sucks."
  6. Talk about what you are seeing. Normalize and build shared experiences before looking ahead to the solution.

Activity 3: Crowdsource!

In live sessions, Adam and Renatus love to use the zoom chat to collect feedback and ideas from others. For example, at the last Doing Design Festival, they asked the community what makes a great online experience. Here are the top community tips we are passing on to you:

  • Getting people moving (getting physical) can make people feel more engaged from the start.
  • Many face to face training skills can be transferrable to online facilitation - so dust off those skills and get some great music lined up!
  • Pay special attention to the beginning for a smooth onboarding.
  • Before you send out the agenda, ask yourself what one thing can you take off it. Give your facilitation more time to include some social and physical activities.
  • Put more prep time in advance to help the session get moving quicker including creating a Miro sandbox and planning for visual variations.