A well-designed and effectively facilitated online workshop takes time and consideration of the issues that may arise when working remotely. But the process needs to be flexible, and the ability to adjust quickly in the moment is just as crucial to virtual facilitators (the person who ensures the workshop runs smoothly and engages participants) as it is for in-person facilitation.

A successful online meeting or workshop requires a balance between sharing of information, group discussion and engagement activities, while also dealing with the logistical issues of poor technology, inadequate time management and note-taking. Virtual facilitators are typically responsible for these duties, which can be stressful and challenging particularly if the meetings are poorly managed.

Virtual facilitation is becoming increasingly frequent as groups work remotely and organizations have to cope with the demand for flexible meetings. It’s a technique that is best learned through experience and it’s similar to facilitation in person, but with the additional challenge of keeping remote participants active and engaged throughout the course of the meeting.

Numerous studies have highlighted the need to tailor VF to each individual site’s particular organizational structure and culture. This was emphasized in particular by Fox et al., who provided facilitators with guidelines for a certain number of virtual facilitation interactions per center. Other studies, such as those by Malone et. and. and Hartmann included a part of training for internal facilitators that focused on building skills, competencies and knowledge that are specifically related to virtual facilitation.