Facilitating remote workshops

Alberto Brandolino has some interesting thoughts on

Facilitating event storming workshops remotely (not a favourable option for all flavors)

Do it remotely -- even the non-favourable ones -- when you have to (COVID-19)

Challenges when Preparing Conducting a (full-day) workshop


  • external consultants
    • don't arrive on short notice
    • don't pop in for short sessions
    • typical 3-day-assignment:
      • 2 days prep (full-day sessions),
      • 1 full-day workshop

remote challenge:

try to do the same remote and watch your stamina oozing


make multiple shorter (90mn, 120mn) sessions, possibly distributed over several days.

Allow for breaks every 45 minutes.


You can't run a full day without replenishing your energy (food, drinks).


Offer a nice catering buffet

remote challenge:

Every participant has to prepare her own catering. If neglected, it often becomes an impediment for team work later in the day.


Schedule enough time, especially for lunch, allowing for additional preparation time

Checking In


Quick Question (as described over at retromat)

remote challenge:

"Passing the mike around" on conference calls can be akwardly clumsy and eats away a lot of your precious workshop time


Ask your audience the quick-question and gather the answer in the form of a collaborative tag cloud.

available tools: menti, polleverywhere ...

Setting the Stage


short lightning talk, supported by flipchart or whiteboard

remote challenge:

lack of participants engagement, participants might get distracted by other

multiple break out sessions

in roughly the following shape

  1. Motivate the sessions goal
  2. Work
  3. Present the results
  4. Retrospect
  5. Rinse, repeat

interrupted by several breaks


socializing / get together


Basic Setup

Consider the recommendations from effective homeoffice

Remote Fishbowl

Use a video conferencing tool with a gallery view option (e.g. BlueJeans)

Add as many discussion participants to the bowl as nicely fit on your audience's screen (e.g. up to 6 in 2 x 3 layout)

As with the usual fish bowl, kindly ask the participants to staff the fish bowl autonomously. And to ask questions (e.g. unmute their mic) only, when in the bowl.

This way, no matter how large your audience, the audio channel only has to cope with the participants in the bowl.

Gallery Walk


Break out session


from a larger meetup, break out a group, move to an available room with a whiteboard. Stick your heads together and sketch out some fresh ideas.

remote challenge:

Facilitating several meeting can be cumbersome

Whiteboards are great for collaboration. Sketches drawn with mouse and keyboard turn out often less than ideal.


Keep the master video-conference call open for moderation and coordination.

Create one whiteboard and/or conference call per breakout session.

In the whiteboards upload drawings from specialized diagramming solutions (e.g. draw.io).

or use a [[collaborative diagramming solution|Tools_for_Remote_Collaboration#Collaborative Diagramming]] for the breakout session in the first place.

If you have more groups than mentors, the groups can ask questions in the master video conference's chat, so a mentor can join the discussion in the breakout session.


giving talks


a speaker gives a talk, supported by slides shown on a large projector screen

remote challenge:

screen resolution and screen real estate can render slides unreadable

pre-workshop tutorial

since tools will inevitably get into some participants way, all tool setup and getting started takes place in a pre-workshop tutorial.

After completing the tutorial, each participant

  • can log into all tools

  • has an idea, what each tool can do

  • has the right to partipate in the actual workshop

Collaborative Documents

Google Docs