Cyber Workshopping Lessons Learned

LPDA and Draper Aden Associates recently facilitated a successful digital workshop for a 40-property best use study in the Middle Peninsula region of Virginia. The gathering was originally planned as a 15-person interactive afternoon workshop, but in attempt to be more accessible, LPDA coordinated with DAA and the Middle Peninsula Alliance to translate the workshop into a series of group exercises and a complementary online survey.

Approximately a dozen stakeholders and four facilitators took part in the workshop. The insights gained through the workshop will be used to inform the next phase of the best use study.

With this being our first digital workshop, valuable lessons were learned. Some of the most actionable points are listed below.

1. A welcome message should be distributed to the registered attendees several days prior to the event date, in order to ensure the meeting goes smoothly and attendees are properly informed. This message should include instructions for joining the meeting, how to use important features within the meeting platform such as chat or hand raising, an explanation of meeting procedures, and a description of the ground rules.

2. Digital meetings will generally take longer than those that are in person. Aside from attendees having to login to a new platform, the formality of calling on people to respond digitally takes a substantial amount of extra time. Planning for an additional 25-50% of time for meetings that will take place online as opposed to in person is a good idea, to prevent scheduling problems and assure a sufficient amount of time is allotted.

3. Including a chat bar function for the meeting is very beneficial and allows meeting attendees to document their thoughts while the speaker is talking.

4. Meeting leaders should assure that only the person speaking has their video running at any given time, to assure the meeting platform is able to run at full speed.

5. The round robin method worked well for receiving input and feedback from our stakeholders.

6. Meeting facilitators should establish a sideline of communication which will be used during the event, to ensure the event runs smoothly. Email or text conversation are both sufficient, with text being the best choice for facilitators who won’t have dual monitors available.

We look forward to using these lessons to facilitate future digital workshops at LPDA.