These are challenging times for everyone.  It has been a very quick transition in society, organisations and their workplaces from face to face meetings, interstate and overseas travel through to facilitating workshops face to face with our clients.  We no longer have these options available to us anymore so we need to adapt and look at how we do things differently and still ensure we are providing quality support to our peers, colleagues and clients.

One of the areas that we have had to adapt quickly is in relation to facilitating workshops that have always been done face to face.  We still have demand from clients who want to stay ahead of the game to help them win bids, facilitate workshops, run training and engage with them to support them through their challenging times.  This was a challenge for us that we were keen to work with our clients to solve to ensure the bids, projects and initiatives they are working on could continue.

Through the great work of our team, we have quickly discovered not only the power of Zoom for video conferencing but also for facilitation of workshops, one on ones and many other applications for BRS and our clients.  It has some amazing features that we are now working with our clients in many capacities to utilise virtually as everyone is now home bound but very open to still collaborating with clients and colleagues.  Some of the features of Zoom that we are now using in our workshops when we facilitate include:

Use of sharing your screen:  This feature is terrific in that if you have documents that you are wishing to share with others, you can do so.  You may have software or reports you may wish to share which all can be shared.  Further, if you are in meetings with others who have documents or screens that they wish to share with the group, you can easily transfer the share screen function to them in the Zoom meeting;

Use of Polls:  This is a great feature for workshops such as risk and opportunity workshops, evaluation workshops or collaboration or training workshops where you are wishing to gain feedback from the group on key items, topics, evaluation criteria, risks or the like.  You can set these polls up either prior to the zoom meeting or workshop or during depending on what you are utilising them for.  Further, these are available to print or email post the Zoom session;

Use of recording the virtual workshop:  This feature may seem obvious but it is fantastic for those that cannot attend the session in real time.  Further, you have the ability to turn the recording on and off so that you may wish to record only select parts of the Zoom workshop or session.  Very easy to use and very valuable for being able to transfer learnings quickly to others who could not attend;

Use of the Q&A section and chat features:  Both these areas are fantastic for facilitation and for workshops.  I love the fact that this is happening during Zoom sessions either during parts of your workshop or at the end of each section.  Questions and chat discussions can be asked of the whole group or through to the moderator or facilitator.  Again, you have the ability to get these as recorded output notes post the session;

Use of virtual break out rooms:  This would be my personal favourite feature of Zoom from the perspective of a facilitator.  You have the ability to set up prior or during virtual break out rooms for members of your Zoom session or workshop to work together in groups using the whiteboard function or share screen function in small groups.  This also comes with the ability to then go in to each virtual breakout room as the facilitator and check in with each room and see how they are going.  You can then get each small group to present back to the main group or disband the small breakouts once they have finished their work. It is a great way to collaborate and can be used for many areas including working on parts of a bid, breaking management team groups in to different disciplines, working through small problems and challenges and bringing them back to the group, assessing risks and opportunities along with many other applications;

Use of virtual whiteboard:  Again a fantastic feature for a facilitator.  It is the same as having a 3M large sticky flipchart except on screen.  You can type, draw, paste in text or diagrams, have them prepared earlier and invite others to add to it.  They all save during your Zoom session and you can send them out post the session.  A great tool and really allows everyone to engage through the session either as a whole group or in break out rooms.

The other critical part of having an effective workshop is ensuring all participants are set up for success for working effectively at home.  Our IT service providers Cloud Networks have provided a fantastic checklist of suggestions for making the most out of working from home which can be found here.

Within BRS, we are starting to use this in a range of areas with our clients including training, workshops, bid strategy, risk and opportunity workshops, 1:1 Executive Coaching, Human Synergistic and Myer Brigg debriefs, procurement workshops and many other areas of our business.  The possibilities are endless in terms of how we can apply Zoom to work we have done in the past.

I am sure there are many other features that Zoom and other VC technology can provide that I have not covered above.  From my perspective, this challenging situation we have all found ourselves in is presenting some great opportunities to do things differently with our clients and colleagues which I hope will remain permanently with us post Covid-19. There are great learnings for all of us and one of my major ones has been dispelling the myth that I need to be face to face at all times to be impactful and collaborative in all that we do with our clients. Technology can be a key enabler to achieving this if it is used in the right manner.