We are getting the hang of facilitating mixed virtual and physical groups.
We are innovating with small but significant incremental improvements.
This group has people who attend physically, we also have people attending from all over the UK and also from Continental Europe.
Readers of this blog will know that we have tried video conferencing, and played with telepresence with mixed success.
We have come to the conclusion that the off the shelf technology (Skype) is not quite up to the task at the moment.
We still want to involve people and give them a meaningful two way communication between those present in the room
What worked this time
- We abandoned video conferencing and pre-prepared virtual attendees so they knew it would be voice only
- We used two facilitators:
- one to manage the room(F1)
- a second person managed the virtual attendees (F2)
- We used the Skype instant messaging facility for virtual members to communicate with their facilitator (F2) in the room
- At appropriate times F2 helped draw attention to comments made by the virtual attendees, then we turned up the sound on the laptop and let them speak for themselves to the room.
The benefits of this approach:
- This made the people attending vitually feel included
- The main facilitator (F1) could manage the flow of content in the room
- The backup facilitator (F2) was the virtuals’ champion in the room and as respected by everyone.
We’ll continue making improvements and will tell you how it goes..