The Importance of Virtual Facilitation

A well-planned and efficiently run online workshop requires time and consideration for the challenges that can occur when working remotely. Virtual facilitators (the person responsible for ensuring the workshop runs smoothly and is actively engaging the participants) must be able to adjust quickly on quickly as the situation changes.

A successful online workshop or meeting requires a balance between information sharing and group discussion activities, as well as addressing the logistical concerns of inadequate technology, time management and note-taking. Virtual facilitators are usually responsible for these tasks, which can be difficult and stressful – especially if the sessions are poorly managed.

Virtual facilitation is becoming increasingly frequent as groups work remotely and organizations have to cope with the increasing demand for flexible meetings. It’s a skill that can only be learned through practice and is not that different from in-person facilitators with the additional problem of motivating and engaging remote participants throughout the session.

Numerous studies have pointed out the need to tailor VF to each individual site’s unique organizational structure and culture. This was particularly emphasized by Fox et al., who gave facilitators guidelines for a minimum amount of virtual facilitation sessions per center. Other studies, like Malone et al., and Hartmann et al. included a formal training component for facilitators at the internal level that focused on enhancing capacities and skills that are specifically related to virtual facilitation.