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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.
- 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