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My Top-3 tips for effective hybrid workshops – Part 2 of 2

#NimbleVlog Season 03 Episode 02The hybrid workplace era has started. How can we facilitate roll-up-your-sleeves kind of workshops where both “zoomers” and “roomers” are fully engaged; collaborate well together; and – in the case of the “roomers” – adhere to the socially distanced guidelines set by the organization? A few days ago, ORCHANGO president & co-founder Edmond Mellina ran such a hybrid session with a C-suite. In the previous episode (S03 E01), he shared two of the Top-3 tips he extracted from the experience. This episode focuses on the third tip, which is even more critical…


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I recently facilitated a roll-up-your-sleeves type of workshop with an executive team. It was a hybrid session – with both “zoomers” and “roomers” working together.

And from my reflection afterwards, I extracted what I see as the Top-3 tips to facilitate effective workshops in a hybrid environment.

I shared Tips #1 and Tip #2 in the previous episode of the #NimbleVlog, which I encourage you to watch. Also, it will also provide the necessary context for the story in this episode, which is about Tip #3.

Tip #3: a North Star for a “we-are-all-in-this-together” mindset

For a successful hybrid workshop, it is absolutely critical to have a North Star for everyone involved – facilitators, support team, “zoomers”, and “roomers”.

As I started working on the design for the session, I kept the following objective top of mind: “Zoomers feeling as if they are in the room with the Roomers, and vice-versa”. It became the North Star.

So, when we met with the client personnel to figure out all the logistics, I started the meeting by sharing this North Star. And it guided all our discussions; all our creative problem solving.

Then, the evening just before the workshop, I felt compelled to send a note to the “zoomers”; telling them about the North Star; explaining that it had been guiding all of our effort to prepare for the workshop. And I committed to them that I would focus on it – the North Star – throughout the session.

But I also said that most likely there would be times when they don’t really feel with us in the room. And whenever this was happening, I said that it was very important for them to alert us – this way we could do something about it. And we provided a couple of means to alert us in a way that they would not feel awkward about it.

At the start of the workshop, I talked about the North Star with everyone – the “zoomers” and my AV partner once again, and for the first time, the “roomers”.

But I didn’t realize the importance of this North Star, the power of it, until later.

The North Star guiding my AV partner

For example, at one point I went to a flipchart to write down some instructions. And I completely forgot about the “zoomers”.

So, I didn’t ask my AV partner to come with me in front of the flipchart to broadcast from his smartphone whatever I was writing on it for the benefit of the “zoomers”. So, as I was writing on the flipchart, it occurred to me and I thought: “Shoot, I need to tell him to come here!”

So, I pivoted on my heels to talk to him… and he was right there: guided by the North Star, he had anticipated the needs of the “zoomers”; he had come behind me, without me noticing, with his smartphone and tripod; and he was already broadcasting for the benefit of the “zoomers”. Beautiful!

The North Star guiding half the participants

Later, I split the executive team into two sub-teams working on dedicated sections of the wall. So, the first team was made up of all the “zoomers” and some “roomers” working on this section; and the second team was on the opposite side of the room, and it was made up only of “roomers”.

As I was floating around, I heard the “zoomers” explaining to their team members in the first team that they couldn’t really interact well with them because, through the sound system in the room, they could actually overhear the folks in the second team.

I turned to go to see the second team and talk to them about it… and I was shocked: they were not anymore in the room!

I went outside and I found them in a little cafeteria just beside where we were.

So, what happened is that they overheard the complaint from the “zoomers”; and guided by the North Star, unprompted, they decided to move outside the room this way they could let the “zoomers” do the work they were doing with the rest of team #1 in the other side of the room!

Clearly, everyone was in it together. They were adjusting things in a nimble way to ensure that the North Star was becoming a reality. Kudos to them!

And in fact, as one of the “zoomers” wrote in an email after the workshop – and I quote: “I really felt the intentional effort to include us made a huge difference! I felt part of the meeting.”

And she further explained that, as a result, she and the other virtual participants felt accountable, which meant – and I quote again – “being attentive, staying present, demonstrating flexibility, providing feedback on how it’s going, not getting frustrated, etc…”

The moral from S03 E01 and E02

In summary and based on this experience, the Top-3 tips I recommend [for] leaders and facilitators preparing for a hybrid workshop are: 1) More time invested [on] design & logistics; 2) An AV partner who is creative, collaborative and agile; and 3) A North Star that promotes a “we-are-all-in-this-together” mindset.

And for the North Star, I recommend you use the same one we used, which was: “For the Zoomers to feel as if they are in the room with the Roomers, and vice-versa.”

Good luck with your upcoming workshops; learn from each experience; and, keep raising your nimbleness!

Top-3 tips for effective hybrid workshops

Tip #1 – More time invested on design & logistics

Tip #2 – An AV partner who is creative, collaborative and agile

Tip #3 – A North Star for a “we-are-all-in-this-together” mindset

Playlist with all the #NimbleVlog episodes

Headshot Of Edmond Mellina, ORCHANGO's President & Co-Founder

Edmond is ORCHANGO's president & co-founder.

He is internationally respected for his expertise in nimble change leadership and culture change. For the past 30 years, he has been executing strategic transformations, building agile capabilities, and advising clients across sectors in Europe, North America and the Middle East.

He is a former corporate transformation executive in drastically changing industries: CIO at Delta Hotels when Expedia disrupted the hotel business; and VP Corporate Development & General Manager USA for the technology business of Envoy Communication Group when design and marketing agencies started to become digital.

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