Virtual process methods

Use different process methods actively to support the purpose of your session

17 November 2020

Are you looking for process methods to inspire you and take your virtual facilitation further? Here, we have collected a series of great virtual process methods that we would like to share with you.

In many organisations, the standard process method is a PowerPoint presentation. However, you can do a lot more in a virtual session than communicating one-way. If you open your eyes and use your creativity, there are endless opportunities.

With just a small adjustment or a different process method, you can do a lot to catch the attention of your participants. Maybe you just need to adjust your method slightly using a different format than PowerPoint for your presentation, e.g. coloured cards, drawings or flip charts. Or maybe you need to go for something completely different.

What are “process methods”?

We use the term “process methods” to refer to the way you facilitate the main part of your session. Thus, we do not talk about openers, energisers or closers, even though these parts are also important. We refer to everything you do in between – i.e. the way you and your participants spend time together during the session.

Adjust and choose process method based on the purpose of the session

We use different process methods to create maximum attention, engagement and impact in our virtual sessions. As a facilitator, you therefore need to have a repertoire of methods to be able to choose between different options.

When choosing which process method to use, the most important thing is for you to choose the method best suited for supporting the purpose of your session. And sometimes, the best choice is a PowerPoint presentation – because you should also remember that if it works for you and your participants, there is no reason to change it.

Telling, selling, testing, training and co-creating

Another key thing to be aware of is the kind of session you are facilitating. In our book Virtual facilitation, we talk about different types of sessions with different characters of purpose. Depending on the character of purpose and the type of session you want to facilitate, you can use different process methods to reach your goal.

We talk about telling, selling, testing, training and co-creating as types of sessions to facilitate, each with a different character of purpose. The different types of sessions call for different kinds of process methods which include more or less involvement of your participants as well as determine the degree of control you have of the content as the facilitator.

  • Telling is a type of session where the character of purpose is to pass on a message. Telling sessions are typically information meetings with a low degree of involvement and a high degree of control.
  • Selling is a type of session where the character of purpose is to create engagement in a new idea or solution. The degree of involvement is still quite low, as the solution being sold is not up for discussion. But as you need to explore the solution with the participants, the degree of involvement is a little higher than a telling session, and the degree of control is a little lower.
  • Testing is a type of session where you look into one or more proposed solutions and seek input on how to improve them. The degree of involvement is medium, and the degree of control is also medium.
  • Training is the specific kind of virtual session where the purpose of the session is for the participants to learn a skill. It could be virtual facilitation, virtual selling, leadership training or something completely different. The degree of involvement is high, and the degree of control is low.
  • Co-creating is a type of session where you actively involve your participants in finding the right solution. If you have a problem, you and your participants can co-create a solution. This is the type of session with the highest degree of involvement and the lowest degree of control.

Create your own personal toolbox

We have collected specific process methods related to the types of sessions mentioned above.

If they are relevant to your session, purpose and participants, you can use the methods as part of your toolbox – or feel free to be creative and adjust them to make them fit.

We also highly recommend that you stay curious and sign up for virtual sessions simply to explore what other facilitators do. If you come across methods that are really cool, use them as inspiration and take notes, screenshots etc. to incorporate them into your personal process method toolbox.

You should not forget your process methods for physical meetings either. After a little reflection, most of these methods can be adapted to a virtual format. If you want more inspiration, you can download the free app “Liberating Structures” with loads of facilitation methods.

Top tip: Virtual sessions do not have to be purely virtual. You can easily add physical elements such as a walk and talk on the phone, drawing an illustration by hand and uploading a picture of it or other physical elements that may be a welcome variation from a purely virtual format.

You may come across handy process methods that use other platforms, thus requiring a little more technical skills from your participants. In our experience, it can be worth investing the time in introducing your participants to these new platforms, especially if you are looking for a high degree of involvement or if you are running several sessions with the same group of participants.

If you are running continuous meetings or workshops, also make sure to give your process method a twist each time. While it may be nice for you and the participants to stick to a structure you know, you also need to make sure to add some variation to keep people’s attention.

Make it human – make it meaningful

Finally, we encourage you to test out different process methods. Do not just go with the standard PowerPoint but try to humanise your virtual session.

Sometimes we experience pushback on our ideas with comments such as: “That approach might work with another group, but these are very important people, so they do not want to spend their time on that”. But in practice, we are all humans, and no matter the rank in the hierarchy, it is our experience that people like to engage in meaningful ways – even at work.

Consequently, when facilitating virtual sessions, you can do almost whatever you want, as long as it makes sense for your participants.

If you want to know more about how to design and execute a virtual session, you may be interested in reading our book Virtual facilitation.

Want to know more?

If you have any questions, please reach out.