Virtual workshop: Everything you should know about virtual workshops in 2022
Are you considering hosting a virtual workshop for your team or your audience? Learn about the different types of virtual workshops you can host, the difficulties you may encounter, and some tips and ideas to power up your workshops.
What is a virtual workshop?
A virtual workshop is an online-based event focused on education and delivered through video conferencing software. Virtual workshops are usually hosted by academic experts or industry professionals, with attendees seeking to improve their knowledge or skills of a specific topic.
While running virtual workshops comes with challenges, specialized tools enable organizers to make the experience more accessible, inclusive, and interactive for all participants.
Types of virtual workshop
These kinds of workshops aim to introduce or develop a subject matter, as attendees’ expertise level can vary from beginners wanting to get an introduction on a subject matter to professionals looking to upskill in specific areas.
Educational workshops are facilitated by an experienced person in the field or industry. In contrast with webinars, educational workshops typically emphasize a more hands-on approach to learning, where participants learn in the first part of the workshop and apply their knowledge subsequently.
Health and Well-Being Workshops
Since the pandemic began, organizations have rightly put more effort into improving the health and wellbeing of their staff.
In that context, health and wellbeing workshops delivered by trained professionals are an excellent way to spread awareness about leading healthy lifestyles, get expert advice for work-life balance, and address mental health issues. Alongside the educational aspect, workshops can also include activities such as creating a gratitude wall or a mindfulness meditation.
This type of workshop is excellent for work projects in the early or creative phases when team members can develop fresh ideas or bring innovations to the table.
Brainstorming workshops can start with some tips or methods that participants may draw upon, followed by the actual exercise of producing ideas. In the virtual environment, hosts can use tools such as virtual whiteboards or mind maps to make the experience more interactive and fun.
Onboarding and Training Workshops
Onboarding workshops are aimed at new employees, focussing on creating a knowledge base about the organization and its processes that will enable the recruit to adapt and perform successfully.
These workshops can address the different intra-organizational tools for communication, collaboration, productivity, and cloud computing. If the organization is a software company, the onboarding workshops can also cover a step-by-step guide to using all the product features.
In a similar vein, training workshops center around upskilling and educating employees. This type of workshop can cover broad topics such as communication in the workplace or cyber security, or more specific subjects relating to skills such as design, copywriting, or negotiation.
Difficulties in a virtual workshop
Lack of engagement
One of the most common challenges in virtual workshops is the lack of engagement from attendees. As workshop participants may be tuning in from their homes, maintaining their focus can prove difficult with a myriad of distractions and entertainment options at their disposal.
To counteract this issue, workshop organizers can leverage interactive videoconferencing tools such as live quiz polling, Q&As, breakout rooms, and gamification.
Then, a prevalent difficulty in virtual workshops is unpredictable technology. Spotty Wi-Fi connections, particularly from presenters, can derail the entire workshop and make it a failure. If the session requires interaction from many participants, some virtual meeting platforms may lag or face bugs because of capacity limits.
Therefore, workshop organizers should take sufficient measures to prevent these issues from arising. For instance, technical dry runs are crucial to test the presenter´s equipment (camera, microphone, internet) and avoid problems on the day of the event.
If participants are likely to have slow connections, workshop hosts should consider using software with low latency options and dial-in options. If issues do arise for whatever reason, organizers should have backup plans to keep the workshop on track.
Lack of interaction between participants
Another challenge in virtual workshops is fostering interaction between the workshop participants. Especially for workshops that require group tasks or collaboration, establishing rapport and good communication is critical. Still, it isn´t easy if participants don´t know each other or are introverted. To overcome these challenges, workshop hosts can resort to speed networking matching up participants before the session.
Otherwise, as we will see in the next section, icebreakers for virtual meetings or breakout rooms can improve collaboration and get people interacting from the beginning.
Virtual workshop ideas
Since virtual workshops require a significant level of collaboration and interaction between participants, hosts can use icebreakers for virtual meetings to kick-off meetings and start the flow of conversation. Icebreakers boost team energy from the get-go, strengthen bonds, and improve communication, contributing to a more engaging workshop.
As discussed above, mind mapping is a helpful exercise for workshops centered around brainstorming and the production of ideas; but it needn´t be restricted to this use case. Virtually any workshop can start with a mind-mapping exercise, whereby the host asks participants to write down what comes to mind when thinking about the topic “x .”Workshop organizers can leverage specialized virtual meeting platforms to embed a whiteboard tool like Miro in their virtual lobby.
Breakout rooms are valuable for workshops, especially when attendance is high. This feature divides attendees into smaller sub-groups, where each person has a chance to give their views and ideas and contribute to addressing a specific task or issue.
Since virtual workshops often involve participants applying their learning or working in groups towards a project, gamification can improve motivation and make the experience more enjoyable. Using a virtual event platform equipped with a gamification feature, workshop organizers can set up dynamic missions to complete specific tasks and display a live ranking table to boost competitiveness.
Virtual workshops are a great way to get training, education, and upskilling opportunities. But while there are many benefits to hosting a virtual workshop, it´s vital to be aware of the challenges that come with them. Are you excited about the possibilities of virtual workshops? Let us know what you think!
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