Insight

by Jenna Lally, 4.17.2020

Staying Connected During COVID-19: Value of Virtual Workshops

COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon – most of us have had to embrace working virtually in remote settings. The truth is, we may be looking at a continuation of virtual work well into the summer. 

COVID-19 might have put our world on hold, but let’s not let it put a halt on your organization’s progress. Not sure how to continue to work toward your organization’s goals while working remotely? We’re here to help.

So far, internally, we’ve made a conscious effort to communicate frequently with video conferencing solutions and we’ve made strides in focusing on our personal health to bring our best selves to work with this new normal. 

In the last month, we’ve built a resource library for you to help your brand during this pandemic. We’ve advised how to manage your brand during crises like COVID-19, how to manage expectations during a crisis, and outlined lessons learned from how brands have responded to COVID-19 thus far. 

Now, we’re outlining a practice we’re seasoned with providing to brands of all types: workshops. The truth is, while in-person workshops are preferred by many, virtual workshops can be just as insightful and helpful for brands. 

If you’re new to workshops, take a moment to get acquainted with why no matter the industry or type, every organization can benefit from a workshop to further their success. 

Workshops come in many different shapes, sizes, and purposes. To keep things timely, let’s first focus on a workshop purpose that’s top-of-mind for all today.

How to Respond to COVID-19

Think about the media coverage we’ve seen around COVID-19 over the last month (indulge us for a moment, this exercise isn’t meant to bring on more stress!).

There’s been lots of headlines, trending hashtags, ads, and conversations from brands that stop and make us think, “what were they thinking?!” Some brands have cringeworthy promotions around their products of services, completely tone-deaf to the current climate. Take KFC’s ‘finger lickin’ good’ ad campaign as an example, the ad is a 60-second spot with different people licking their fingers – that’s it. Cheeky and catchy at any other time, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not a good look. The brand ended up pulling the ads, but not before being called out for being irresponsible.

Throughout the next few weeks, months, and into the aftermath of COVID-19 next year, organizations will want to ask themselves, “What is our brand trying to accomplish with our COVID-19 response?” Even further, “What value can our brand bring to help those in the age of COVID-19?

Thinking your organization should be publishing content related to COVID-19 but not sure what about? Want to know how to successfully handle clients in crisis mode during the pandemic? Curious about how to pivot your business offerings to be nimble in the current atmosphere? 

These are all things that can be explored through a virtual workshop. 

Having a third-party facilitate a workshop around your brand’s response to COVID-19 is beneficial. It brings niche expertise and unbiased questions to the table to probe and to bring the brand’s essence to the surface. It’s about digging deeper to find what your brand can offer to your audience. 

Revisit Your Brand Positioning

During COVID-19 and post-COVID-19, it’s important that your brand stands out for the right reasons. But, you already knew this, right?

The real question we should be asking ourselves is: what does our brand positioning look like? Making sure your brand communications align with what your audience needs and what your brand stands for is a best practice to keep your brand centered. No one likes a brand that capitalizes on the current atmosphere to boost sales or is inauthentic in their sentiments during sensitive moments like this pandemic. 

A workshop is a chance to explore where in your brand positioning there is confusion, or where there is lack of clarity around what your brand stands for.  Workshops are a blend of audits and creative exercises, a chance to dig deep and find out where your brand is today and where you want it to go in the future. In a workshop, we’ll uncover insights that will shed light on what kind of next steps are needed to successfully deliver your brand to your audiences. 

Workshops establish a fundamental relationship in bringing various stakeholders and perspectives to the table, which is key to working together to tighten all aspects of your brand. Virtual workshops take this a step further, bringing in team members from a number of locations, eliminating the scheduling logistics and challenges of coming together for an in-person meeting. Right now, while most are working remotely, taking the opportunity to come together remotely is powerful. With virtual workshops, there’s an ability to include a video recording of the workshop, helping all parties revisit ideas later on. Similarly, since everyone is joining from their own devices, it’s much easier to get everyone involved and everyone feels comfortable contributing to the exercises. In-person workshops, there can be a tendency for a few players to dominate the conversation. 

Tools and Tips We Like

What’s great about virtual workshops, is that it’s easier for all stakeholders of a brand to be involved. Stakeholders can join from the comfort of their own home (which is where we’re spending all of our time these days!). 

We’ve collected a few virtual tools that help us facilitate virtual workshops, but also encourage more collaboration from all participants:

  • ZoomOur agency has used Zoom for a while now to host virtual meetings, including virtual workshops when in-person isn’t a possibility. Zoom adds a level of humanness to virtual working, it makes us feel as if all participants are in the same room together.
  • Online Whiteboard – Whiteboarding sessions are helpful to inspire collaboration and collectively contribute around a central idea or exercise. Virtual whiteboards are a dream come true, inVision being just one of many online whiteboard tools. With inVision’s freehand whiteboard, participants can brainstorm together, list ideas, and the moderator can provide feedback all in one spot. 
  • Google Suite – Another great tool to use for not only virtual workshops, but day to day business is Google Suite (Google Slides, Docs, Sheets, and Forms). For a structured approach to the workshop, we leverage Google Suite for presentations, and a way to take live notes. It’s another great collaboration tool.
  • Polling Tools – Mentimeter or PollEverywhere are two tools to help with interactive polling. To ensure honest, candid feedback from participants, polls are a solution. These two platforms allow users to set custom questions and the audience then provides their answer using any device that can connect to the Internet.

We’ve also collected a few tips from our team on how to make the most of a virtual workshop:

  • Introductions can go a long way. Since workshops take a big chunk of time, it’s important to allow a few minutes at the beginning to introduce everyone involved in the workshop, the team facilitating and the participants. This serves as a way to break the ice and get people speaking early on.
  • Participation can be tricky, get personal and call on new people by name to start each exercise. It can be intimidating to be the first to speak on any important call, muchless a virtual workshop. This strategy also prevents one participant from taking over the entire workshop. It’s essential to hear from all stakeholders, not just one or two key players. 
  • Introduce the technology prior to the workshop. The facilitator should spend a few minutes at the beginning of the workshop to go over all the tools that will be used in the virtual workshop. If the technology requires more skill, send a demo to participants prior to the workshop.
  • Take breaks. It can be physically exhausting on the eyes to stare at blue light for hours and hours. Carving in a few minutes to break throughout the workshop will help get the most out of participants and have them returned feeling refreshed and ready to contribute.

Wrapping It Up

We’re just scratching the surface here on the value virtual workshops can offer your organization. 

Now more than ever, it’s important your brand is in touch with your audiences. Stay ahead of the upcoming trends, continue to add value and strengthen to your brand even during one of the most unprecedented situations we’ve experienced in our lifetime.

Interested in learning more about virtual workshops? Get in touch with our team at hello@beyond-definition.com for a free introductory call. Whether it be questions about the logistics of a virtual workshop, or if you’re interested in discussing the possibility of our agency partnering with your organization to help your communications and brand during this time, we’re here as a resource.

As COVID-19 pushes teams into remote, virtual workspaces, our “Staying Connected During COVID-19” series is here to help. Let’s commit to keeping ourselves, our families, and our communities safe, one step at a time. Follow us for tips on how we can further your mission together.

Jenna Lally's headshot

Jenna Lally

As Marketing Strategist, Jenna crafts customized digital marketing strategies and cross-channel content to connect with diverse audiences.

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