Designing and facilitating a successful virtual workshop

I recently had the opportunity of facilitating a virtual design workshop for the SheHacks Hackathon. Running virtual design workshops are distinctively different from in-person. There’s a lack of insight into energy levels, what participants may be struggling with, and visual cues.

Pavi facilitating the virtual workshop for SheHacks

The needs and constraints:

  • 100+ participants
  • I won’t be able to see any of the participants
  • Hopin(webinar tool) doesn’t have breakout rooms
  • Interactive workshop and different from a generic design thinking workshop

Since the pandemic, virtual workshops are something I’d have to do from time to time at work. However, leading a workshop with over 100 participants, where I’m unable to see nor interact face to face, made planning this a challenge. Here’s my approach to making the virtual workshop successful.

Step 1: Workshop Value

Step 2: Resources & Tools

The canvas from Solving product exercises recreated on Figma

I used a problem from the book as a sample for myself and the participants to work through together. To make the workshop interactive and beneficial, I opted to use Figma, considering it’s an industry tool used by product designers and is available for free.

Step 3: Setting up

The Workshop

At the end of the workshop, I asked for feedback and provided my contact info on the Figma file so they can reach out to me anytime for questions. Several participants who were either beginners or who understood Figma responded, saying they found the workshop incredibly helpful and learned new things.

“Really mindful of the fact that we’re actually beginners and that on the stream, she paused and made sure we understood. She also moved at a good pace, not getting caught up with a bunch of questions (i.e., pushing repetitive and small things towards the end and asking people to stay). Comparatively clearer and more efficient than the first two workshops!” — Workshop participant

Learning for next time

Overall, this was a memorable and fun workshop. I look forward to having more similar opportunities to share my learnings and help early designers grow their understanding.

Toronto-based designer specializing in user experience and visual design.