TOP 10 TIPS
With the rise of online work and meetings in 2020 – a new challenge: how to integrate the humanizing and inspiring force of creative methods into the virtual world? Luckily, constraints can disrupt comfortable habits and often lead to more innovation and creativity! (See HBR article) Below are some tips based on our hard won experience, links to some tried and tested method adaptations, and a compendium of some useful tools.
- DISCOVER YOUR INNER-GEEK
Even if you've never considered digital media your thing, put on your curiosity glasses and explore the wondrous world of online and digital tools. Warm up with some video tutorials videos – you'll realize that online tools are easier to use than you might think. Play with a variety of tools and choose ones that are intuitive for you – if they work for you, they are likely to be intuitive for your participants as well. Reach out to a more experienced friend or colleague for tips and support.
- ALLOW FOR EXPERIMENTATION & FAILURE
Yes, we like things to be perfect, but allow yourself room for experimentation and failure. Enroll your participants as part of the experiment and ask for their patience and feedback. Cultivating an expectation and acceptance of imperfection can actually increase the sense of connection and engagement amongst participants.
- SEND A NETIQUETTE
Especially when working with large groups of people, sharing a brief ‘netiquette’ beforehand helps set the tone of the event and gives examples of ‘good practices’. For example, you might request that participants connect at least five minutes in advance in order to double check their camera and sound (so that the event can start on time), establish ground rules for when sound should be on and off, and explain how to use the chat area, etc. You can also include more 'soft' expectations, such as allowing for moments of silence, taking regular movement breaks, and planning for how to deal with disagreements or how to 'park' tangential topics that could derail a meeting or class.
- PLAN FOR EXTRA TIME & SUFFICIENT BREAKS
Hosting events online, especially with large groups, requires more time than we usually plan for – due to possible technical hiccups and participants' varying levels of tech-savvy. It is important to to avoid rushed introductions and to give everyone the time and support to feel comfortable enough to actively participate. In order to avoid cyber-burnout (via BBC: virtual meetings really are more exhausting!), plan for more breaks and create structured time for people to stretch their bodies and get away from the screen for a little while (See our Mind-Wander method).
- AVOID ANONYMITY
Plan enough time and define a structure for introductions. Be creative and flexible depending on the group size: use the chat, divide in break-out rooms or stay in the plenary, but make sure that everyone has an equal chance to share or be heard. The Online Circle of Objects is a fun way to make introductions.
- SENSE OF PLACE
Acknowledging the physical places that people are calling from (often their own homes) can humanize and contextualize virtual engagements. Use the Online Circle of Objects method, for example, or ask a Warm-up Question that relates to the physical place that people are in (e.g. related to the weather, nearest natural area, best local walk or local food, etc.).
- PLAY WITH SOUNDS AND SILENCE
To bring in some playfulness and moments of rest, incorporate different forms of sound and silence. For example, try the Online Silent Conversation method. Or introduce short guided meditations, possibly combined with sound elements like a meditation bells or a fragments of music.
- DARE TO LEAVE THE SCREEN
Virtual work doesn’t mean that we have to be stuck to the screen. You can integrate offline activities such as journaling or drawing, or include movement or somatic warm-ups or other methods (search our methods database for some ideas). Or just remind people to change position, stand up for a second, or look out the window.
- SHARE MEANINGFULLY
Online tools, such as Google Jamboard, Mural, or Miro, offer great possibilities to share impressions, reflections, thoughts, feelings ,etc. Always include clear guidelines for what you are inviting participants to share. Schedule enough time for verbal discussion and reflection, either in the plenary or breakout rooms. It's important to be comfortable with moments of silence so that people don't feel rushed or pressured.
Be clear and transparent about how the things participants write in the online spaces and tools are going to be used. Will everything be harvested or are there also spaces that remain within the confidentiality of the workshop? This is especially important when working with sensitive topics or in conflictual situations.
5 ONLINE METHODS
Search our database for all online appropriate methods. Here a a few that we designed specifically for online use.