Remote Tips: Facilitation

VMware Pivotal Labs

Setting team working agreements and ground rules

  • Agree on tools that everyone has access to.
  • Agree on how you will communicate, interact, and make decisions. This can be based on user manuals created by each team member:
    • Chat tools are used for _________ .
    • Email is used for ___________ .
    • I tap someone on the shoulder by doing _________.
    • Standup is for _________ .
    • Stand-down is for ____________.
  • Clearly set the agenda, desired outcomes and a timebox for each session.
  • Agree on hand gestures during video calls.
  • Maintain a team decision log.
  • Maintain a team TODO list or Kanban (e.g., on Miro or Trello).
  • Make the agenda visible to everyone for each session.
  • Use a speaking timer.
  • Agree on how feedback will be shared after each activity.
  • Set aside time before group activities for team members to reflect on their goals for the session.

Preparing in advance

  • Prepare a digital whiteboard with the activities that you want to run.
  • Keep prompts visible alongside your remote templates.
  • Practice walking through the session beforehand.
  • Add facilitator notes to slides and whiteboards.
  • Agree on who will facilitate.
  • Agree on who will co-facilitate to help respond to participants’ body language.
  • Allocate more time for remote activities.
  • Turn off your desktop notifications!
  • Set up breakout rooms in advance, if possible.

Keeping participants engaged and included

  • Instead of waiting for people to speak up, try prompting: “What are your thoughts, Abbie?”
  • Use attendees’ names to keep their attention.
  • Use a round-robin format to encourage everyone to speak.
  • Encourage everyone to use Gallery View on video calls.
  • Use apps (e.g., Krisp) to reduce background noise instead of muting yourself.
  • Repeat yourself as distracted folks may not be fully following your narrative.
  • Use attention-grabbing phrases like “So in summary,” “Now this part is important,” etc.
  • Have more than one speaker to mix it up.
  • Use your camera and visuals.
  • Look at the camera and arrange your screen so that the speaker window is very close to the camera.
  • Keep your energy and excitement up.
  • Speak a bit slower than your usual pace in case of lag.
  • Light your face.
  • Clean up your desktop, tabs, downloads folder, etc., to avoid distracting people.
  • Move your mouse slowly and deliberately.
  • Ask people if they can see something specific on your screen.
  • Explain/demonstrate where your cursor is or what you want people to focus on.
  • Make windows full screen, enlarge your text, or zoom in.

Making use of the tools

  • Always keep video on.
  • Interact in real time (e.g., Miro, Screen, Tuple, etc.).

Using dual monitors

  • Duplicate the view: Use one screen to participate, and one to get a full view of the digital whiteboard and observe team activities.
  • View teammates on another screen while facilitating team activities to monitor for body language, sign language and other visual cues.
  • Use a separate screen for side-channel communication with other facilitators.

Other remote facilitation resources