7 tips to run a successful hybrid workshop

Hybrid training workshops
Hybrid training workshops – Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

A lot has changed in the world of training in less than two years.

Before lockdown you had plenty of in-person workshops under your belt.

But then your business model changed overnight and you had to learn to lead virtual workshops too.

With the worst of the pandemic behind us, you now want to get back to delivering in-person, face-to-face training.

But although some of your clients can now attend your trainings, not everyone can or is ready to.

This means is that you have to learn to run hybrid workshops.

What’s a hybrid workshop?

A hybrid workshop or training is where some of your delegates will be in the same physical location as you.

On the other hand some of them will be attending remotely via Zoom, MS Teams or some other virtual conference software.

Irrespective of the platform, just don’t fall into the trap of letting learning technology become the focus.

If you do, it only exacerbates the difference between remote and onsite delegates.

Your choice of training platform technology should be like the plumbing in your house or apartment.

It’s important. You need it. But it should remain in the background.

Keep things engaging

Training during COVID 19 has been challenging. We’ve all experienced being ‘Zoomed out‘ (or ‘Teams-ed‘ out) since all of this began.

So, you’ll want to avoid a situation where your remote participants end up sitting in front of their screens for hours on end.

Nonetheless, there are now so many ways you can add interactivity and fun to facilitation no matter where your training clients are attending from.

Think about the meetings and workshops which you have found to be engaging these past months.

What did you find interesting? What did you find compelling?

Could you tell more stories? Could you include more virtual whiteboards and live drawing? 

LEARN MORE: Listen to Hannah Williams tell you how she helps her clients to achieve break-throughs and unlock creativity through the use of Live Scribing and Rich Drawing

What is the goal of your workshop? Clarity is absolutely key when working in a hybrid way (or even fully virtually).

So, make sure everyone is really clear from the start.

Have a clear purpose

I recommend completing my Magic 6TM statements, both in preparation and then gaining agreement at the start of your workshop 😀

  1. We are here to… (the purpose of your workshop)
  2. Today we will… (the objectives of your workshop – no more than five)
  3. Our plan… (this sets out the time plan)
  4. Who’s doing what… (this sets out the roles different people will play in the session)
  5. How we work together… (agreements as to how people will work – the ‘ground rules’)
  6. What’s next… (the actions to follow)

Be aware of the advantage of presence

When everyone was ‘remote’, we all endured the same limitations of being virtual.

In hybrid workshops – where some are remote and some are not, this is no longer true.

The delegates who are on site have numerous ‘advantages of presence’ over those who are dialling in remotely.

For example, on-site delegates can:

  • look around and, at a glance, take in everyone else’s body language and facial expressions
  • pick up on the nuances and dynamics of conversation
  • give feedback nonverbally 
  • make comments that might not be picked up by microphones, especially if those microphones are a little way away. 

Create a level playing field

I’d go as far as saying that it’s possible for people in a room to forget about those who have joined remotely and to continue as if they didn’t exist. 

So it’s vital that you create a level playing field for all your workshop clients. That’s usually the biggest challenge.

Bring in the avatars

Could you create physical avatars of everyone who is attending remotely?

One of my clients uses actual life-size, cardboard cut-out cartoons of all those who can’t attend meetings and trainings in person!

They place the cartoons on chairs in the meeting room, one chair for each cartoon, and this stops people forgetting (or unintentionally excluding) their remote colleagues. 

Could you also make a point of using name tents for remote participants?

Name tents are useful although they are not quite as obvious as life size cardboard cut-outs!

Create remote buddies

Could you ensure that everyone who is physically present is allocated a ‘remote buddy’? This remote buddy is kept up to speed by their ‘onsite buddy’.

The onsite buddy can ask their remote buddy whether they need an update or if they’re not clear on anything.

By taking this approach, each remote delegate has an in-room advocate, who will bear them and their interests in mind. 

This could take a lot or pressure off you as the facilitator.

Set up pre-workshop activities

There are so many things you can do before training to ensure that everyone connects.

By setting aside time before the workshop, both remote people and onsite people can introduce themselves and get to know each other beforehand!

Could you create a shared, online collaboration space to share ideas and buddy-up in advance?

Some trainers use tools like Miro or Mural or to enable their attendees to meet on camera and take part in pre-course challenges or exercises before the training starts.

LEARN MORE: Listen to expert Isman Tanuri tell you how he uses remote collaboration software like Miro when running remote training with clients

This approach works well because it can be done asynchronously by every participant at a time to suit even if they are remote.

Respect time and attention

We all know that sitting in a Zoom or Teams call for hours is not an effective use of time, so ask yourself whether everyone has to be there for the whole training.

Could you bring them in at specific points where they will benefit from hearing from or interacting with those who are onsite, or where they are needed for input?

Where people have busy schedules and are working from home, this will be really appreciated by your remote delegates!

Conclusion

Training is slowly returning to the office but we are not quite there yet.

Many of your delegates will still need to attend virtually so you need to take this into account when planning your next hybrid workshop

Take advantage of all the learning from your own experience of being remote and apply this to what you already know about onsite training and you will be fine.

Make sure that everyone is really clear about the purpose of your workshop. Remote training will not suit everyone.

Think about using time up front for preparation. Bring people in only for those parts where it would make sense to have them join the meeting.

Ultimately, you need to create a level playing field to ensure that everyone feels included even if they cannot attend in person.

Hybrid workshops could form a significant part of your training work with clients in the months and years to come. So it’s worth getting them right!

Some resources for you

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Making Workshops Work: Creative collaboration for our time
Virtual Leadership – Practical Strategies for Getting the Best Out of Virtual Work

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