Online Facilitation 101

The agenda

I love improvising. And do you know why? Because I over-prepare. Over plan. Then hopefully over-deliver. Having a clear and defined agenda allows you to reflect on the objectives of the meetings:

  • What do you want to harvest?
  • What type and level of energy/interaction to you want?
  • What image/brand do you want to give?

Starters (or the key moment)

You guessed it, I like to invest heavily on the beginnings, with two objectives:

  • Present the meeting framework (hosts, roles, rules)
  • Include participants (presentation, contribution)

Round-table (<15)

  • Unlocking power: High
  • Timeboxed: Low
  • Knowledge of participants: High

Collective contribution: the whiteboard

This is one of my favorites!

  • Unlocking power: High
  • Timeboxed: High
  • Knowledge of participants: Low (unfortunately)
High-level content there
High-level content here to

Polling (∞ participants)

  • Unlocking power: Medium
  • Timeboxed: High
  • Knowledge of participants: Medium (depending on the question)
Source: Zoom
  • Type questions and guidelines in the chat. If people failed to be attentive or joined in the middle it saves you time and includes everyone.
  • Use polls anytime you want to reengage your audience. For instance, after a session and then after a break (what did you get during your break? Tea/Coffee/Juice). Not only for serious stuff
  • Timebox, Timebox, Timebox. Be Strict about it. It allows you to keep the pace and not rush other sessions

The main dish

1–2–4-All

We are circling, circling together
  • Engagement power: High
  • Connection between participants: Medium
  • Complexity: High
  • Provide a question or set of questions for the participants
  • Offer them a 1 min of silent self-reflection (alone!)
  • Bring them in pairs for 2 minutes to build upon the reflections and generate new ideas
  • Bring them in groups of 4 people for 4 minutes to share and iterate. It is meaningful to highlight similarities and discuss differences at this point.
  • Finally, bring everyone back, and each group takes 5 minutes to answer the question “What is one idea that stood out in your conversation?”

Word Café

  • Engagement power: Medium
  • Connection between participants: Medium
  • Complexity: Medium
  • After welcoming the participants and explaining the process, divide them into small groups
  • Ask the first round of questions with the allocated time, designed to open the discussion between the participants and let them relate to the event’s topics
  • After the time is up, you can follow up with the next rounds of questions
  • After all question rounds, bring everyone back, and open the space for reflection/feedback to the larger group
  1. Start with a personal connection to the topic, how does the participant relate to it

The Desert

Time to close the session and wrap it up and to harvest the various contributions. Besides having another round table of sharing here are a few ideas to spice it up.

One breath feedback

Nothing more literal than this. Each participant takes a deep breath and shares their heart content until their lungs get empty.

  • Engagement power: High
  • Timeboxed: Medium
  • Complexity: Low

Word of clouds

You can invite participants to share a few words to answer your closing question.

  • Engagement power: Medium
  • Timeboxed: Medium
  • Complexity: Medium

The Group Picture

Okay, that one has not really a “content” harvesting power, it is nonetheless a memorable moment and a simple sharable takeaway of the event :)

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Abdul Otman

Abdul Otman

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Cofounder of Remote-ready, Elected council member of Global Ecovillage Network Europe