• Douglas White

Can workshops work on the small screen: webinars and social distance

Fast as lightning our lives have changed. We are now seeing the wonder of technology as social isolation is transforming the way we work, play, buy, interact and virtually (I mean literally) all aspects of our lives. My task is to turn a 2 day intensive hands on social media workshop into a Zoom webinar!


  1. Managing conversations

  2. Keeping it interesting on the small screen

  3. Interactive

  4. Individual attention

  5. Group exercises

For over 5 years I have been guiding my self designed 2 day intensive social media workshop. I am pleased that after all these years it is sold out, but this year it requires serious change as it is “move online or die time”.

Online learning is not new and, for the most part, not interesting. I have been both student and teacher for online courses and they have been uniformly dull, education value low, retention lower and feeling personally relevant the lowest. So how does one go about redesigning a highly successful F2F/ Hands on workshop for the small screen?

1.Managing conversations:

Online meeting tools have become pretty good from zoom to holographic imaging. But for most of us it is still sitting and listening to someone talk, while watching a small screen.

Establish rules ahead of time for etiquette and of knowing when breaks are coming to keep people engaged. Understanding the attention span of your audience is critically important. Depending on the topic and the level of knowledge of your audience this can vary.

  • Make sure there is a group leader

  • Allow each person to finish a thought

  • Provide chat function for asking questions on the side

  • Keep people engaged by framing questions in a more informal manner that they can use personal experience examples and stories rather than hard facts


2. Keep it interesting on the small screen:

A big screen in an event room somehow makes us more focused while the common feeling of the small screen makes it easy to be distracted. There are tricks to hold people’s attention and most of it has to do with keeping change constant.

  • Use more dynamic and image intense slides

  • TV holds a camera shot for 3-5 seconds and then shifts, this is to keep our attention on the screen. Imagine a static slide for 2-3 MINUTES! Keep it moving!

3. Interactive:

Well phrased questions and dynamic slides will only hold peoples’ attention for a short while. Fortunately we are a culture of multitasking and multiple devices.

  • Use multiple screens. Most people have more than one device and they can watch and listen while performing small exercises or activities on another. When was the last time you watched a game or movie and not Googled something on the side?

4. Individual attention:

The most challenging of all. How in a group online meeting can you provide individual attention. This goes back to the setting of rules and a clear agenda. Individual attention is definitely possible provided a few conditions are met.

  • Individual attention when the topic is interesting and relevant to the entire group. Then the focus can shift to another’s screen or spend time engaged in that issue

  • During scheduled exercise time use break out meeting rooms or separate video connections

5. Group exercises:

Group exercises are too valuable for effective workshops to consider foregoing. They provide transfer of knowledge and experience, reinforce learning, create team building and are, usually, the most remembered aspect of any workshop.

  • If your meeting app allows break out rooms, enable this

  • Create exercises where the tasks can be divided among group members so they can do some work independently

  • The group exercise should start by requiring collaboration of a plan and strategy

  • The group exercise should end by requiring the individual tasks to be assembled in a single project

  • Assign group projects that can be presented, allow the groups to share their accomplishments. This means it needs to be webinar friendly

Covid-19 will transform the world in ways we can not imagine. Times of adversity usually fuel great achievements. I fully expect that we will come out of this with loss but overall far better to approach the future.

Much success,

Douglas White


#performancemarketing #digitalpivot #SocialMedia #SocialMediaMarketing #corona #covid19 #DouglasWhite #PRDAAsia #hongkong

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