Remote Facilitation

Even years into remote work, I feel like people are not doing meetings well. There is more to changing to remote meeting than just pressing the right buttons. Remote facilitation requires a different mindset and a slightly different set of skills.

macbook pro displaying group of people remote facilitation

  • Introduce everyone – They didn’t have a chance to do it before the meeting, allow time to catch up and be social. Maybe everyone knows one another, maybe they don’t but ice breakers get the meeting moving much better in a remote world than they did in person.
  • Engage people – “Does anyone have any questions?” isn’t enough, in fact, it is a bad question. Ask “What questions do you have?” It sets the mindset that there should be questions and makes them come easier.
  • Keep to brief monologues – if you have to monolog keep it to short segments, you aren’t that interesting. Don’t feel bad, most of us aren’t. And talking non-stop for a even a few minutes can cause your audience to alt-tab to their email.
  • Know that conversation is slower – Non-verbal cues. If you want your non-external processors to engage you have to be even more comfortable with silence. Tell people you are going to allow 10 seconds for people to process and get their thoughts in order before allowing for conversation. It really helps people who like to think before they speak, unlike me who likes to think as I speak.

This challenge is surmountable in remote workshops and online meetings. Restricting conversation during some segments, allowing everyone the chance to speak for limited periods or having people ask questions in text chat before the facilitator then selects which to address can be effective.
  • Mute everyone to get started – background noise is distracting if people don’t mute themselves most software has a mute all button for the host. Just let everyone know so they aren’t talking away on mute.
  • Cofacilitate if possible – Having two people talk and have a conversation is much more interesting than listening to one person drone on. People can put questions in chat if you have a second person keep an eye on what is happening in the chat. This will also allow for breakout rooms.
  • Use different methods – breakouts, brainstorming, games, polls, quizzes, icebreakers. There are tons of ways to engage people like polleverywhere or other
  • The right people and the right number – Getting the right number of people in a remote room is important. You can only have a conversation with so many. Zoom allows you to break into smaller “rooms” if you need groups for a workshop or something.
  • Take breaks – Zoom fatigue is a real thing. Allow more time than normal if you are in a long meeting to take a bio break. On those breaks, stretch, do push-ups or something to keep you body healthy.
  • Record it – if for no other reason than to see how you did, but it is also helpful for those people you didn’t invite because you were trying to keep to the right number of people.
  • Turn on camera’s – I know not everyone is a fan of this, but we get so much info from non-verbal information that it is really important to see one another. It also helps us to connect because a face is more of a connection than just a voice.

What about you, what are your favorite remote facilitation tips? Tell me in the comments below.

Jason Fisher Written by:

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