Remote communication

How to Host Engaging Virtual Workshops in 2022

Published on May 17, 2022 • Updated on June 7, 2022 • About 10 min. read

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Virtual workshops are a convenient, cost-effective alternative to in-person workshops. But the recent onslaught of online events has left many people suffering from screen fatigue, which means engagement is more challenging than ever.

Fortunately, with the right virtual workshop activities, tools, and tech you can create a truly collaborative, productive experience that people will love.

At Livestorm, our mission is to help you move beyond mere attendance to achieve next-level engagement. So we’ve put together a guide to hosting virtual workshops for adults that covers:

  • What a virtual workshop is
  • How to host engaging virtual workshops
  • Some different types of virtual workshops
  • Virtual workshop best practices
  • How to set up a virtual workshop
  • Best tools for hosting virtual workshops

What is a virtual workshop?

A virtual workshop is an interactive online event designed to deliver training or education via a video engagement platform. Online workshops are designed to bring people together to learn, collaborate, co-create, and solve problems.

What are the different types of virtual workshops?

Some common types of workshops used by businesses are employee onboarding, team training, brainstorming, collaboration sessions, virtual team building, and customer education. Here are more details:

Employee onboarding

The virtual workshop format lends itself well to the employee onboarding process. Welcome and onboard new employees with a virtual workshop explaining their role, your company culture, teams, and tools, etc.

Employee onboarding handshake

Team training

Webinar training is a great way to update your teams’ knowledge and skills or introduce new policies. And learning together helps build teams and ensure everyone is on the same page. Virtual team workshops and virtual leadership training allow you to use a variety of features to train your team. For example, share your screen so direct reports are in sync with your words; poll attendees at intervals to concept check; and send the recording afterward so they can use it as future reference material.

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a critical first step in any new project or process and helps overcome barriers to progress at later stages.It can be more challenging in person, as communication is less spontaneous, so look for a web conferencing platform that offers features like a digital whiteboard to facilitate brainstorming by making it more visual and interactive.

Group of people participatin in virtual workshop activities

Collaboration sessions

Collaboration is essential for co-creation, at any stage of a project. It might involve creating road maps, customer journeys, marketing materials, problem-solving, or designing new policies and systems.

These virtual team workshops work best with visual tools to streamline the process and boost engagement. For example, interactive whiteboards or mind mapping tools to create visual representations of ideas. Interactive processes like this get creative juices flowing, facilitate open communication, and help keep people engaged.

Virtual team building

Virtual team building events like escape rooms, book clubs, quizzes, creative online workshops or craft challenges, and virtual happy hours are great ways to unite remote teams and facilitate internal communication and teamwork.

co-workers participating in a virtual workshop

Customer education

Sales onboarding and customer education are key to boosting customer satisfaction and retention. These sessions can be delivered online using video, tutorials, product training, Q&As, and live demos.

11 Virtual workshop best practices

Here are our top tips to host engaging virtual workshops.

1. Promote collaboration and engagement

Workshops are collaborative by nature, but people need to feel compelled to pay attention and contribute, which is harder to achieve with virtual vs live events.

You can get around this by:

Creating the right program and structure

  • Put together a varied program with different types of sessions, with clear transitions from one to another.
  • Include interactive activities and challenges to get people working together.
  • Create regular opportunities for participation, and make sure people know when and how to participate.
  • Breakout into small groups, which makes it easier for less confident people to contribute, and provides more opportunities for informal interaction and personal connection.
  • Include a live Q&A. To boost engagement, let participants choose which questions get answered.

Establishing trust and a safe environment

  • Make sure people know there are no wrong answers so they feel relaxed enough to contribute.
  • Start by highlighting individual and team successes to lift people’s spirits and show them their efforts are valued.
  • Use a mix of contribution methods, like polls, surveys, chat, and more. to encourage participation from more retiring attendees.

Using introductions and ice-breakers

Online events can initially be stiff and awkward, especially if people don’t know each other. Ice breakers overcome this by putting people at ease and getting them talking. For example, sharing favorite GIFs, memes, TV shows, etc.

Giving people the freedom to chat about low-stakes topics makes them more comfortable and productive later.

Introducing gamification

This adds a fun, unexpected element, and really boosts engagement. Some examples of gamification include:

  • Problem-solving challenges
  • Competitions
  • Peer-voting
  • Digital leaderboards
  • Incentivizing asking and answering questions
Team participating in workshopping process,

Designating tasks and responsibilities

Get attendees involved by asking them to present, field questions, take notes, or summarize key topics. This helps create a positive atmosphere and gives them a vested interest in the workshop’s success.

Asking concept-checking questions

Asking concept-checking questions ensures everyone is on the same page, and should be done at regular intervals. Let people know upfront that they’ll need to pay attention.

Using engagement tools and features

For example:

  • Digital whiteboards
  • Anonymous live polls & surveys. These get people thinking, clicking, and checking the results, and are a great way to test reactions, reach decisions, learn more about attendees, and get feedback without putting anyone on the spot.
  • Chat sidebar
  • Visuals like slides, video, or presentations
  • CTAs to drive people to take action
  • Emoji reactions
  • Downloadable assets

2. Select great instructors, hosts, and facilitators

Staying engaged throughout a virtual workshop takes a lot of concentration and mental effort, which means people are more easily distracted. That’s why hosts and speakers need excellent leadership, people and time management, and public speaking skills.

It’s their job to kick the workshop off and keep it flowing and in line with the agenda. They should also check engagement frequently and, of course, be an authority on the subject at hand.

Man hosting virtual workshop

3. Prepare your program

Preparation is key to virtual workshop success. You need:

  • An agenda to provide structure.
  • A timeline to keep things focused. Remember to think about how much time to allocate to each segment.
  • Clear, well-communicated objectives.
  • To have thought about the different roles of hosts and participants, including who will facilitate each segment.

Use a video meeting checklist to make sure you cover all the bases.

4. Create a presentation deck

Presentations help keep people engaged, as long as they’re not too long. Keep text short, don’t fill each slide with too much content, and use colors, and formatting to break them up and illustrate key points.

You could also include:

  • Product infographics.
  • Social media posts.
  • Customer feedback or testimonials.
  • Images and video.

5. Explain goals, expectations, and structure upfront

Explaining goals ensures everyone is on the same page and working together. Don’t be too rigid, though. Be flexible and ready to adapt if ideas are flowing or people’s energy levels dip.

6. Take breaks during long sessions

Online communication is tiring due to the lack of visual clues from body language. Combat “Zoom fatigue” and let people recharge with regular breaks. Play some relaxing music during the break, and do a lighthearted activity to ease people back in afterward.

7. Send automatic invites and reminders

Depending on the numbers, sending individual manual emails is extremely time-consuming. Use an online workshop platform like Livestorm to automate them instead.

As a minimum, send:

  • A post-registration confirmation email with event information and links.
  • Regular pre-event reminders to boost attendance
  • A follow-up email afterward thanking people for attending
Email invitation to participte in workshop

8. Collect feedback and analyze engagement

Use polls and surveys before, during, and after the event. As well as providing insights you can use to improve for next time, it lets participants know their opinion matters.

Check out your virtual meeting platform’s engagement analytics to see what people enjoyed most.

Two panels showing event attendees and registration analytics

9. Follow up and share the replay

There are always a few people who sign up but can’t make it, so sharing the recording after the session means they don’t miss out. Send this with a follow-up email summarizing the workshop, and pull the best moments to share on social media.

10. Observe remote meeting etiquette

Unless you want your gaffes to go viral, observe virtual meeting etiquette by hosting from a quiet, tidy location with no distractions, including your own notifications.

11. Choose the right virtual engagement platform

The right virtual engagement software streamlines the workshopping process and facilitates productive, engaging workshops.

Look for one with features that facilitate all of the above, and:

  • Is user-friendly and intuitive.
  • Browser-based, so participants never have to download anything.
  • Integrates with your tech stack and common tools like Slack, Google Analytics, digital whiteboards, etc.
  • Automatically generates event landing pages
  • Has easy screen sharing
  • Offers high-quality video and sound with no lag
  • Includes recording and playback

How to set up a virtual workshop

Follow these steps for how to create an online workshop from your virtual workshop platform:

1. Create your event

  • Give it a name
  • Edit the URL
  • Add a description, date, time, time zone, and duration
  • Set speaking permissions and language
  • Add sessions and team members

2. Automate your email settings

Choose which notification emails to send, like confirmations, reminders, event-starting-now, thank-you, did-not-attend, and replay sharing.

3. Add contributors

In Livestorm, contributors can be team members or guest speakers. Choose which sessions they have permission to moderate.

4. Create a registration form and send out invites

Your registration form helps you gather important information about leads. For example, their role, company size, etc. With Livestorm, you can create automated branded registration pages to send out in automated emails, taking the hard work out of lead generation.

5. Test before going live

Schedule a walkthrough and tech test with guest speakers to ensure microphones, screen sharing, virtual backgrounds, etc. work. Never leave it till the big day to identify issues. To avoid connection issues for speakers and attendees, look for a browser-based video engagement platform so nobody has to download and install new software.

Woman using microphone while attending online workshop

16 Best tools for virtual workshops

Video engagement platform

Your video engagement platform is the bedrock of your virtual workshop tech stack and should support all workflows around video engagement, like creating landing pages, registration, automated communications, in-event engagement, and follow up.

Livestorm

Livestorm is a reliable, intuitive, browser-based video engagement platform. It fights screen fatigue with a host of promotion, organization, and engagement features like reaction emojis, polls & surveys, live chat, Q&As, and more.

Powerful end-to-end analytics track and measure audience engagement, while integrations with tools like Pipedrive, Intercom, and HubSpot help you manage insights all in one place.

Two people using Livestorm for virtual workshop

Other virtual workshop tools

As well as your video engagement platform, the following tools help streamline event organization, delivery, and ongoing collaboration.

Presentation creation

  1. Venngage – a complete design tool to create infographics and other visuals.
  2. Visme – a free online graphics tool that lets you create charts, graphs, presentations, reports, and more.

File storage and sharing

  1. DropBox – cloud-based workspace to share and store files.
  2. Google Drive – a free cloud-based storage service that lets multiple users work on shared files.

Whiteboards

  1. Miro – an interactive digital whiteboard that facilitates brainstorming and collaboration.

Collaboration

  1. Slack – a messaging app for businesses that facilitates team collaboration and communication.
  2. Typeform – A no-code web-based platform that allows you to create anything from surveys to apps.

Meeting planning

  1. SessionLab – an online lesson planning platform that allows you to break your content into chunks and outline and organize presentations.
  2. Google Sheets – an online spreadsheet app that lets you create and collaborate on spreadsheets with others.

Design

  1. Canva – A free graphic design platform to make invitations, business cards, Instagram posts, and more.
  2. Figma – a powerful design tool to create anything: websites, applications, logos, and much more.

Note-taking

  1. Evernote – note-taking software that helps you create and organize digital notes and keep them synced across different devices.
  2. Notion – a project management and note-taking software that helps team members coordinate and be more efficient and productive.

Collaboration

  1. Trello – project management and note-taking software.
  2. Asana – a productivity tool that uses kanban boards and task templates to keep teams organized.

Final words

Virtual workshops are a great way to get people to collaborate and achieve shared goals. But they require careful planning and preparation to combat screen fatigue and boost engagement.

Get your virtual workshop off to the best start with a browser-based video engagement platform like Livestorm. Its all-in-one solution covers you from planning through setup, hosting, and beyond.

Frequently asked questions about virtual workshops

What are good virtual workshop ideas?

Good virtual workshop ideas include collaboration and brainstorming sessions, employee onboarding and team training, team-building exercises, and customer education.

Are there any good virtual workshop games?

Some good virtual workshop games include quizzes, puzzles, scavenger hunts, and games like Guess Where I Come From, Guess My Superpower, and Two Truths and a Lie.

What is the best free virtual workshop tool?

The best free workshop tool is Livestorm. It integrates with your tech stack, and comes with a range of features to facilitate engagement like live chat, Q&A, and collaboration tools. It’s also browser-based, intuitive, and reliable. Best of all, the free version allows you to try all paid features, and stays free forever.

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