How to run a workshop with remote participants

With all the current situations of everyone working from home, I have been getting a lot of requests for running workshops remotely. So I want to offer some tips and guidance on running remote workshops.



  1. Create a Challenge brief
  2. Agenda
  3. Pre-workshop preparations
  4. Setting up boards
  5. During the workshop.Post the workshop.

Creating a Challenge brief:

This document captures all the information required to plan his workshop. We need to understand what the challenge is we are trying to solve? Who are the impacted people? Who are the stakeholders and approvers of this project? For example, if the workshop’s aim is to enroll new data policy within an organization, it’s very important to understand what is the underlying problem with the current policy or without one, who is the target audience for this policy and who are the actors involved in creating this policy. This helps us to decide who do we need in the workshop and how to we set the stage for the audience.


The next step is the agenda. Any typical Agenda for the workshop is usually 1-5 days and this depends on the type of workshop; a single day workshop on policy discussion or a 5-day workshop running product sprint. So, what is going to change drastically for a remote workshop? Its time! Time is a scarce commodity when running remotely. Let’s accept the fact no matter how engaging the workshop is it is difficult to engage people for long hours sitting in front of their PC. Cut short the workshop to 3hours per day. Leave those break-out sessions like homework for the teams on the following day.


Talking about the limited time from our Agenda, pre-work plays an important role in making this workshop a successful one. Prework involves activities like,

  • Sending a workshop invitation to participants.
  • Share some resources for the participants to read and educate themselves during preparation for the workshop. Examples: If you are running a design sprint share some reading material on what is a design sprint? Some case studies on running a design sprint, how to use the online collaboration tools? Some YouTube link works great.
  • Let the presenter know in advance the topics they need to come prepared with. Let them know how long their presentation, their time slot, and the material format is. Make sure they also get instructions on how to present their content during the session.
  • Housekeeping. Prior to the workshop ensure all the participants have access to the online application, resources, test their internet connection, is there any firewall issues. If required give them a demo of the tool or how to use them. Remind them to keep the charging cable, pen and paper and bottle of water handy during the workshop.
  • Most collaboration tools offer app support on mobile. Keeping the app installed on the phone will help the participants to photograph their sketches and add them instantly into the collaboration boards. Some instructions to the participants on how to install those apps will be beneficial.Plan your breakout sessions? Are you using the same application or switching over to different applications?

Setting up boards

Start with your agenda as a reference. Make sure you create a board space for each item on your agenda. For example, if you have an ice breaker as your first activity. Create a board to do an Icebreaker session, clearly mark the instructions and how long each activity will take. For example, if my icebreaker is the one below. My board preparation as follows.

During the workshop

Time management is key. Brief the participants of the agenda. Move from board to board for each activity. Use a timer displayed on the screen so everyone is aware of it.Participants tend to get confused every time a new activity begins so make sure you guide them with examples. Encourage them to ping you in the chat window if individuals need support.Feedback is a critical piece of running these workshops. Make sure you get feedback from participants end of each day so that you can address any issues or concerns at the earliest. 

Example of boards below:

Example of an Agenda

Example of a board set up for team contribution. The avatars of the team are shown on the left. All their sketches and contributions are posted on a single board.

Example of a board set up for Individual contribution. Each member asked to pick an avatar and use one of the blank column space to add their entries. Manual dot stickers also used here to vote for features.