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Facilitation, Workshops and Events

Miro is my new favourite tool for online workshops and training

Earlier this year I had to “convert” my face-to-face workshops into online events and I was keen to ensure I could make these as interactive and engaging as possible. I used to get great feedback about how practical and hands-on my face-to-face workshops were, largely as a result of the pairs and small-group working sessions that I build in to the learning designs.

I therefore needed some sort of collaboration tool that I could use across different online meeting platforms (I have clients using Zoom, MS Teams and Google Meet). I can’t recall how I came across Miro (formerly Realtime Board) but I signed up for a Consultant Edition licence and I’m glad I did. This means I can invite participants to use (free) editor access to the online whiteboards that I create for each workshop.

Miro has lots of templates in its “miroverse” and I do use some of those, often as a starting point for something I need to have in my workshop. Miro is, effectively, an infinite sized whiteboard but it enables you to create “frames” which act as containers for other content but, usefully, enable you to run a slide mode, moving from frame to frame.

Below is an example of part of a workshop Miro board. In the top left, I create a participants’ “welcome” area with guidance on how to move around the board and for them to write their name and learning objectives.

Miro lets you import PDF files and “unpack” their pages. I use that to import all the workshop slides (top centre) and the participants can also download the pdf, if they want to.

I break my workshops into 45-60 minute sessions, each of which has a background frame on the board. You can see 3 of these on this example. The session frames contain the relevant slides, each of which sits in another smaller frame so it can be shared in presentation mode during the workshop. I create breakout areas for pairs and collaborative work under the relevant slides and each exercise is also in its own frame. Some of the exercises require pre-prepared dots for voting or sticky notes for participants to capture their conversations.

During the workshop, I use frames containing each slide to lead the participants through the session and into the breakout areas. Miro has a “Bring everyone to me” function that allows me to keep everyone in the right place on the board. If you’re using Zoom, you can send people into breakout rooms and they can work on the collaborative tasks in small groups in their own area of the board. In MS Teams, at the moment, I send people off into separate “meetings” but I believe there’s a breakout room feature coming soon.

My participative activities include dot voting, quizzes, prioritisation matrices (e.g. Risk Analysis) and brainstorming/affinity diagrams.

The first session I ran was a bit nerve-wracking; trying to manage MS Teams and the Miro board but I’m now into the swing of it and quite comfortable jumping between various tools. I also jump into Kahoot to run quizzes in some workshops.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, or in the case of workshops, in the feedback! Here’s some recent feedback:

Very well presented and very interactive. Most useful and enjoyable zoom teaching I’ve received. 

Really enjoyed course! Was really well delivered and engaging with all the little activities and break room discussions, best online delivery I have experienced and I’m a big fan of Miro.

This course was excellent. It was well presented with appropriate tools and very strong levels of interactivity. Ian’s style of delivery was excellent. The content takeaway was strong and I feel like there was a very good practical takeaway. Great!!

The delivery, pace and content were excellent and the breaks and timetable fit perfectly for online learning. The level of interaction and group discussion really helped reinforce the learning and I was very appreciative of the ‘active’ learning style. This is honestly the best online training I have attended and has blown attempts from university and other external training providers out of the water.

My key tips:

Prior to a workshop, I send participants a “Welcome” document which introduces them to Miro, how to navigate, and gives them the link to join and complete their pre-work.

No session is longer than 60 minutes and we take breaks between each session. Typically, I have 2 sessions in a morning, break for 2 hours (lunch) and then 2 sessions in the afternoon.

There’s interaction at least once per 5 minutes. Less content – more interaction is critical!

Board design and layout doesn’t matter too much because presentation mode using frames enables you to move around the board easily.

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