8 tips to run a successful hybrid workshop in 2022

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.

In this article, I’m giving you 7 tips to make your next hybrid workshop a success!

So what’s a hybrid workshop?

Hybrid Workshop on Zoom
The lockdown introduced new technologies – Photo by Lucas Law:

A hybrid workshop or hybrid 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 location, don’t fall into the trap of letting your technology become the focus when you’re running a hybrid workshop for the first time.

If you do, it only exacerbates the difference between remote and onsite delegates. I learned this the hard way!

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

You need it. But it should remain in the background.

Tip 1. Keep things engaging

Training during COVID 19 has been challenging. We’ve all experienced being ‘Zoomed out‘ (or ‘Teamed‘ 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 your hybrid workshop no matter where your training clients are attending from.

Think about the meetings and workshops you found engaging these past months.

  • What did you find interesting?
  • What did you find compelling?
  • How did it keep you engaged?

Now, let’s think about your next hybrid workshop. What could you do differently?

  • Could you tell more stories?
  • Could you involve your audience better?
  • 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

Tip 2. Have a clear purpose

Your audience might be in different places with different priorities. You need their involvement and attention.

I recommend practising my Magic 6TM statements and then gaining agreement from people at the start of your hybrid 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)

Tip 3. Be aware of your ‘presence’

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

But 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, your on-site delegates can:

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

Tip 4. Create a level playing field

It’s possible for people in your hybrid workshop to forget about those who have joined remotely

It’s also very easy to continue as if they don’t exist. I took part in an online training recently where everyone was introduced.

But by 11 o’clock, the trainer had forgotten that she was training people remotely.

  • The exercise files had not been shared with people working from home
  • They were not given the same opportunity to talk
  • They were not involved in break-outs

Feedback from online participants was dreadful.

So it’s vital that you create a level playing field for all your workshop clients.

Your participants are going to really appreciate it when you make everyone appreciated.

Tip 5. Bring in the avatars

An avatar is simply a virtual representation of someone who cannot be present.

One of my clients uses actual life-size, cardboard cut-outs 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. 

You don’t have to make life-size pictures. What matters that you have something to remind you that you have people offsite.

  • Could you make a point of using name tents for remote participants?
  • Could you create physical avatars of everyone who is attending remotely?
  • Could you design specific activities that suit people offsite?

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

Tip 6. 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’.

An 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. 

People have said to me that they learn more when they are responsible for helping someone else learn as well.

This approach will also take a lot or pressure off you as the facilitator or hybrid workshop host!

Tip 7. 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.

Tip 8. Respect time and attention spans

You 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.

Dialling into a remote meeting or hybrid workshop is not easy. There are so many distractions.

Could you bring different people in at specific points where they will benefit from hearing from or interacting with others?

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

Conclusion

Training and coaching are 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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