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Secrets to run a successful workshop with Teams

How to keep the participants active and focused, and how to encourage dialog during the workshops?

Henna Sopanen / April 01, 2020
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In this spring, we’ve faced the new normal: working from home. Many of us have spent a lot of time in online meetings, chatting and sharing documentation online. We need to organize all collaboration and communication virtually.

Microsoft Teams has become a familiar yet critical for us to collaborate. When there is nothing new in online meetings or chatting, the next challenge is to learn to facilitate successful, engaging and fun workshops with Teams. How to keep the participants active and focused, and how to encourage dialog during the workshops?

Let’s dig into it!

Practical tips for organizing a successful workshop virtually

1. It’s not a monologue! Engage the participants during the workshop

When planning the workshop, as a preparation, consider how you courage people to join the conversation during the meeting. This is extremely important virtually, when lacking the eye contact with the participants.

Teams offer several alternatives for engaging people during the workshop. Try for example these:

  • Use the “Conversation” option for sharing views. Ask participants to share things on their mind by writing them into conversation of online meeting. The answers will be documented automatically, and you may get back to them afterwards.
  • Channel’s poll for quick questions. Raise a question with defined alternatives using channel’s poll. Ask the participants to reply to the question. Share the results immediately.
  • Channel’s conversation for opening dialog. Raise a question or open a dialog with channel’s conversation. Ask participants to answer to the questions with reply function. Reply function keeps the discussion together.

2. Start early! Share pre-tasks

Start the preparations early and share pre-tasks and questionnaires to participants in advance. You may create questionnaires by Forms, one of Teams applications, and send it to the participants to fill in. The results can be shared in Teams real-time.

3. Encourage the conversation! Keep the dialog ongoing

Keep dialog ongoing during the meeting by thinking aloud. Keeping up the discussion is important when you are lacking an eye to eye contact with the participants. People will know they are in good hands. Also remember to utilize video whenever possible – it’s nice to see people eye-toeye! It might eat the capacity of the network if you keep it on the whole meeting. And you'll only see person who is talking. But it’s a great boost to dialogue anyway.

4. Use Teams channels for organizing sub-groups 

It’s easy to use Teams’ channels for organizing sub-groups where the collaboration can go on. You may assign a channel for a sub-group to meet online, discuss, share and work documents simultaneously.

Channel’s Meet now -functionality is easy for organizing meetings quickly. Participants just jump in & out.

Channels are also easy for facilitators to guide sub-groups by writing instructions to the channel’s wall, or just jumping in & out to online-meeting.

5. Don’t work on it alone! Enable simultaneous collaboration

Often there is a need for working simultaneously a document or brainstorm a topic.

Working the document together add a new template to Teams’ files. All team member can then open it and work it together simultaneously.

Brainstorming is also possible with Teams. Whiteboard of Windows’ applications is brilliant for brainstorming. Participants can create post-it’s, put them onto wall and group and reorganize them. This is possible with Whiteboard. You can download it from Microsoft Shop for free.

6. Don’t make it too tight! Have small breaks

Have small breaks during the workshop. Breaks keep people’s energy levels high and they have energy to focus and contribute to the workshop topics. Encourage everyone to log off for a while and do something no-digital.

7. Secure the success! Test it in advance

Run the workshop in advance with a colleague or by yourself. This helps you to validate the instructions for the meeting participants and to learn how well Teams supports the planned facilitation methods. Have a test for the first couple of workshops, until you know what works and doesn’t. You’ll learn more once you go on!

8. Avoid “Can you hear me’s”! Optimize the experience and provide support

Encourage people to check technicalities before joining the workshop. Offer the support when needed. This will save everyone’s time when Teams, headset etc. work in everyone’s pc.

Want to learn more? 

Check out also our free webinars: 

Need hands to help you with Teams? We are here for you:

Henna Sopanen, Senior Business Consultant, tel. +358 50 433 5116

Henna is specialized in leading business changes and anchoring new ways of working to organizations. She understands how Teams and current circumstances are shaping the working culture and is willing to support your journey.

Katri Pacek, Solution Consultant, tel. +358 45 672 2249

Katri is specialized in Microsoft O365 solutions and especially Teams and SharePoint implementation and adoption projects. She knows the solutions by heart and is willing to share her best practices.

Henna Sopanen
Senior Business Consultant

Henna is specialized in leading business changes and anchoring new ways of working to organizations. She understands how Teams and current circumstances are shaping the working culture and is willing to support your journey.

Author

Henna Sopanen

Senior Business Consultant

Katri Pacek

Solution Consultant

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