It’s wonderful that we can connect through a variety of brilliant, intuitive and affordable online meeting tools, especially during times such as these. These tools make it so easy that I’ve witnessed a lack in creativity and engagement in some online sessions I’ve attended as a delegate.
To get the best results and deliver a great experience for our delegates, as facilitators we need to innovate how we design and manage our online workshops. That means all the way through, not just going for a quirky icebreaker before settling back into the ordinariness of a boring and uninspiring core.
Use the screen share, chat roll and breakout room functions in your main meeting tool combined with other tools such as Mentimeter, Google docs & slides, Mural, Stormz, Miro, Sessionlab and Stormboard to massively expand the creativity and interaction in your virtual facilitation design and delivery.
We’ll have a look at these now. Each of them has a free trial option, so you can play around and test them out to see what you think.
Great virtual facilitation tools
Mural enables innovative teams to think and collaborate visually to solve important problems. Once people have had some practice, it’s quick and easy to use it for creating diagrams, which are popular in design thinking and agile methodologies, as well as tools to facilitate more impactful meetings and workshops.
This tool is quite intuitive to use, but definitely does take practice – for delegates as well as facilitators. If you’re going to be meeting with the same people regularly it’s worth looking at because the delegate’s investment in learning the ropes will pay off more and the co-creation process will speed up over time.
I like the shared canvas approach in Mural, and the extensive template library available.
Stormz has Workshop, Quiz and Socializer elements, and is an online collaboration tool with features that enable you to facilitate conversations, run quizzes and hold collaborative sessions such as brainstorming, design thinking, retrospectives or strategic planning workshops.
Stormz say that their tool is “Aimed at demanding facilitators that love to fine tune their sessions, the application gives unparalleled flexibility. The participants can test their knowledge, share their perspectives, co-create solutions and make collective decisions directly from their laptop, tablet or mobile phone.”
Mentimeter allows you to create questions (such as multiple-choice questions) in their web application and participants can answer them from their mobile devices. This tool is one of my favourites because it’s so easy and effective.
The brilliant thing about Mentimeter is that you can instantly visualise everyone’s feedback and inputs and display the results live to the group. It helps your participants to feel engaged and connected, and interested in how their response compares and contrasts to what others are saying.
It works really well on mobile devices with a streamlined user experience and is much more budget-friendly than some of the other tools here.
Miro is an online whiteboard tool designed for remote teams. It provides an entire toolkit for user story or customer journey maps, wireframing, roadmap or sprint planning, retros, and more.
Miro is designed to: “Better engage distributed and remote teams in brainstorming, processes, workshops and decision making with digital workspaces that enable asynchronous and synchronous collaboration — just as easily as if everyone were in the same room.” It certainly achieves this objective and is a great virtual facilitation tool.
SessionLab is not a virtual facilitation delivery tool, but can help you to design your events. SessionLab’s session planner can help you plan and design more effective meetings and save time. You can reuse content between meetings and access their library of techniques.
Stormboard provides shared online workspace for delegates to use to generate ideas, and then prioritise, organise, and refine those ideas. There are also some great tools and integrations available to make sure actions are followed up and done after the session.
Milanote is an absolutely awesome tool for virtual facilitation. Alongside Mentimeter it is hands-down my favourite. It’s intuitive, has a great free option and delegates find it super-easy to use. They can collaborate in real-time from their different remote meeting locations to create mood and vision boards, strategy and innovation whiteboards, storyboards, mind maps and much, more more. Please do check this one out as it’s such a good one!
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