Here we’ll touch on three session formats; in-person, online, and hybrid (simultaneously has an audience online and in-person).
It’s also worth considering how you facilitate your event if you’re recording it. Consider the purpose of recording the event. Do you want the recording to enable participants to have an aide-memoire for later? Or do you want the recording to become a resource that people who didn’t attend live can get an equivalent outcome to the live participants did? Consider if recording the session will impair the openness of discussions or conversations. In you are recording a live event ensure that you have the expressed permission of the audience members and anyone else involved.
Regardless of your session format there are some common tips.
When planning the session think about how many facilitators you need to effectively run the session. The more participants or technology involved will typically require more facilitators.
Take care not to cram too much into a single session. Be realistic about how much you can achieve in the given time. You can always plan for more but adapt on the day, in response to your audience.
Don’t try to be both a participant and a facilitator simultaneously. Consider which tasks you can usefully delegate to participants. This could include things such as note taking, spokesperson, time-keeper for a specific activity and so on.
Remember to build in thinking time, silences and pauses. Your audience will likely consist of people with a range of learning styles so it’s worth aiming to use a range of approaches to appeal to everyone.
Start the session with house-keeping. If you’re in person this should include the location of fire exits, toilets, drinking water/refreshments and if a fire drill is expected. If you’re online, you might want to invite folks to switch on their cameras and mute their microphones. You may wish to say if you’ll take questions throughout the session or at the end and if you’ll do this via the chat or raised hand and so on.
Set out how the session will run. Set the expectations of your participants, tell them the format of the session, when breaks will be (and how long for), the nature of any interactive tasks, and when can they ask questions. Take this opportunity to let the participants know how you plan to facilitate the session, especially if you’ll step in to stop a discussion in the interests of time or going off topic. Ask the audience ‘What are you hoping to come away with?’, ‘What are you hoping to get out of this session?’, ‘What do you want to achieve in today’s session?’.
End the session with a brief recap or review. Summarise any actions and next steps at the end of the session. Encourage the participants to do this for themselves. Thank all for their participation.