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    Mar 17, 2021    |   Psychometrics Canada

Two Ways That We Improve Engagement in Our Virtual Workshops

3 minute read

Written by Justin Deonarine, I/O Psychologist

1. Use Virtual breakout rooms often!

Indian lady lead videocall, pc screen view over woman shoulder

Breakout rooms allow participants a different way to recharge and reengage. They provide a more intimate atmosphere, and this change can be refreshing. They are especially helpful for those who are more introverted, and aren’t comfortable contributing in the larger groups (especially when those groups can consist of 15 or 20 people). Many activities that we used in person can have a breakout room component, so it’s a handy tool to implement into your virtual workshops.


Some conferencing platforms allow multiple configurations for your breakouts. For example, Zoom has the options of creating randomly-assigned groups, pre-selected (manually-assigned) groups, or breakout rooms where participants can choose their own (based on a criteria). Here are some activities to provide examples of how you can use the different types of breakout rooms in your virtual workshops:


Randomly-assigned breakout rooms
  • You can use randomly assigned breakout rooms for a Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode® activity where participants discuss which conflict mode that they would like to develop the most. Having a group with a mix of default conflict styles allows the “experts” to provide guidance or insight to those who are looking to develop productive use of that conflict mode.


Manually-assigned breakout rooms
  • During Work Personality Index® workshops, you can put together manually assigned breakout rooms based on their scores on a scale. During communication workshops, have participants explore how they handle input from others by looking at the Democratic scale. Split the groups up between those with scores of 1-4, 5-6 and 7-10, allow them to discuss when and how they seek input from others, and then have them come back and share their thoughts with the larger group.


Choose your own breakout room
  • A great Judging/Perceiving activity for MBTI® workshops allows the participants to choose their own breakout room. In this fictional scenario, participants are offered an all-expense paid, dream vacation. The caveat is that they have to leave immediately. No opportunity to contact anyone or make plans, they just have to leave. You can create 3 breakout rooms: “Couldn’t do it.”, “I’m in!” and “I’d have to think about it.”, and allow people to move into the room of their choice. The group then discusses why they picked the room that they’re in, and can change rooms if they figure out that they’re not in the right one.


2. Use virtual whiteboards for interactivity!

woman viewing virtual workshop on laptop making notes on paper with pen

Anytime you used a whiteboard in-person, you can use a virtual whiteboard. However, the advantage of a virtual whiteboard is that every participant can write on it at the same time. Virtual whiteboards are built into most conferencing platforms (and can be used in breakout rooms also), so it’s a convenient addition to your virtual workshops.


Whiteboards are especially helpful for group planning activities, such as “Start, Stop, Continue”, where participants determine activities, actions or behaviours that they want to start doing more often, stop doing as much, and continue engaging in. However, they can also be used for brainstorming or blue-sky thinking activities, such as:


Same word, different interpretations
  • This is a communication activity demonstrating the fact that the same message can have different meanings to different people. Write the word “SPACE” in the center of the whiteboard, and have participants add the first word that comes to mind around it. You’ll see themes such as physical distance and outer space.


Best boss, worse boss
  • This activity explores the common themes behind how people define good leadership. Start with the title “Best Boss” on the whiteboard, and have people list of traits. (You’ll see common themes such as support and empathy.) Then move on to another whiteboard with the title “Worst Boss”. (You’ll see themes such as micro-management, but you might be surprised by some of the other responses!)
Filed under: Team Building