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When is the Best Time for a Virtual Facilitator to Take a Break?

Not when you may think! The fact is, as we spend more and more time in virtual workshops, the time we spend doing virtual activity becomes more and more welcome -- but not necessarily for the right reasons.

First and foremost, as virtual facilitators we have to recognize that the time that learners spend doing activities is far and away the most valuable time of any virtual event. Whether this is a simple individual exercises, a group activity, a case study or an application, this is where learning occurs and if we, as facilitators, aren’t managing that time effectively, we run the risk of wasting learning opportunities -- so don’t take a break to catch up on your emails (yes, we know facilitators who do)!

The role of the virtual facilitator means that we have huge responsibilities before, during and after the activity itself.

1. SET UP: Participants in a virtual workshop have to know EXACTLY what is expected of them during an activity- especially because they will probably not have an easy way to ask, once the activity begins. So be very clear is explaining the:

1. Purpose: WHY we are doing the activity?

2. Process: What are the steps they need to carry out?

3. Product: What is the output/result they should bring back, and in what form?

2. MONITOR: Once the teams are sent to virtual breakout rooms, the facilitator shouldn’t heave a big sigh of relief and have a break themselves -- they should get to work! Most technology platforms allow the facilitator to visit each breakout room, just as they would in real life. Don’t miss the opportunity to “pop in” and:

- Ensure participants are on track with what they should be doing.

- Check that progress is being made.

- Discover learning points and material to weave into your debrief.

3. DEBRIEF: Remember what Thiagi said about debrief? He said, “if you aren’t going to debrief an activity properly, then you may as well not bother even doing it”. Your job, as a virtual facilitator, is to drive the debrief with questions that:

- Draw out the learning point(s) for the activity,

- Test for understanding (of the key learning points), and

- Illustrate how the learning can or will be applied.

So, rather than seeing the activity time as break, the virtual facilitator should “step up” to set up, monitor and debrief learning activities. Think of it as your busiest time, rather than your down time!

Would you like to know HOW to Set up, Monitor and Debrief virtual learning activities more effectively? Then email us at to receive our free checklist and guide.


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