Meg Bolger is a facilitator, creator, collaborator, and social justice educator. Meg’s mission is to facilitate a more beautiful, dignified, and loving world. They're super inspirational!
Meg is also the co-creator of Facilitator Cards, a deck of 60 activity cards that make it easy to plan, respond, and improvise for your workshops. Meg was kind enough to share their top tips for using Facilitator Cards and Butter.
Take it away, Meg!
Butter makes it really fun to plan and run online workshops. With so many features in your hands, there are tons of creative ways to take advantage of the platform—but it can be intimidating at first.
To help you facilitate your workshops like a pro, I’m going to share five facilitation activities from our Facilitator Cards you can run using Butter.
No matter who you're working with or what content you're facilitating, these processes are sure to invite more participation!
1. Anonymous Q&A 🥸
I love getting questions from my participants during workshops. But sometimes it’s tough for people to shout out honest questions in front of a big group—so we turn to Anonymous Q&A.
Having everyone submit an anonymous question makes sure that people don't feel alone in having questions, which is a very vulnerable feeling.
So how can you source anonymous questions during a live workshop?
Rather than have people send you direct messages over chat, you can use Butter’s Poll feature. By creating an open-ended poll, you can invite your participants to submit anonymous questions.
Here's the best part: because it’s a poll, your participants will have to submit something before they can see the other questions! So everyone has to ask a question.
Plus, if you enable voting on the poll answers, everyone can vote on which questions they most want to see answered. This makes it easier for you to narrow down to the most pressing questions and gives you a clearer picture of the energy of the group.
2. Hot Seat 🔥
As facilitators, we often highlight the experts in the room. When we’re tackling a narrow subject, they may only be one or two people with relevant expertise.
The challenge in these cases is to give these people a platform to share their knowledge without it feeling like they’re taking up too much space.
For these situations, we use the Hot Seat.
With Hot Seat, we purposely focus all the attention on the experts by giving them dedicated time in the spotlight. This way, they don’t feel discouraged to share, but we also include others in the conversation.
To do this, we use Butter's Spotlight feature. This highlights and magnifies one person’s camera for everyone.
You can then ask the group to use the "I have a question" feature. Each person can then ask their question to the person in the hot seat. After each reply, you can either take follow-up questions or simply move on to the next question in the queue.
3. Minute Papers ⏳
Sometimes the most powerful activities are the simplest ones. Minute Papers give your participants one minute to respond to a prompt.
Your prompt can be something like “What are you most hoping to get out of this meeting?” or “What is the thing you feel you really know about this topic already?”
To do the Minute Papers exercise in Butter:
- Ask the group to open up their personal notes.
- Tell them the prompt out loud and put it in the chat for reference.
- Have them answer the prompt in their notes for one minute.
- Ask for share-outs in the large group. Feel free to skip this part if you want it to be entirely self-reflective!
Not only do Minute Papers increase participation, but they also increase the quality of people’s responses.
Rather than everyone saying the first thing that comes to mind, everyone takes a moment to sit with their thoughts. The extra time gives people the chance to be more thoughtful and precise in their shares out to the group.
4. Go-Around Share 🙋
Whether it's to create connections or brainstorm ideas, we often want to hear from lots of people with a Go-Around Share. But passing the energy around the room is harder online.
For example, not everyone sees other participants in the same order on their screen, so that makes it hard to move quickly from person to person.
Butter's Queue feature gives you a fun way to hack that problem!
To hear from everyone, ask the group to click the ‘Queue’ button and then hover their cursors over ‘I have a Comment’. On the count of 3-2-1, have everyone hit the button at the same time.
This will instantly queue everyone up so that you can quickly hear from the group in an order everyone can see. Genius!
5. Subcommittees 🪆
Subcommittees allow you to break a big idea into smaller parts and then have participants opt into the subtopic they’d most like to discuss in a smaller group.
For example, if I were running a workshop on challenges new facilitators are facing, I might break that topic into subcommittees such as:
- Co-facilitator issues
- Imposter syndrome
- Fear of the unknown
Then, I’d allow participants to opt into whichever subcommittee they'd most like to dig into.
With Butter, it's really easy to allow participants to hop into specific breakout rooms that you've labeled ahead of time.
To create breakout rooms before your session:
- Go to your room setup
- Select ‘Breakout’ > ‘Create breakout’ > ‘Rooms’
- To create a breakout room, select ‘+ Add Room’
- Select the room title and rename the room.
- Repeat for as many rooms as you’d like!
- Select ‘Save for later’.
Check it out:
Bonus tip: Use a Miro boards for each subcommittee
You can also use Butter's Miro integration to give each group a space to take notes during their subcommittee discussions. This is helpful for two reasons:
- It creates a space for collective note-taking during their subcommittee discussions.
- You can easily monitor everyone’s progress and hop into the breakout rooms that seem to be stuck or stalled.
Combining this with the ability to “peek” into a breakout room allows you to easily know how each group is doing without breaking up their flow or interrupting them.
Double bonus tip: Broadcast to your subcommittees
When the groups have under five minutes left in their subcommittees, use the ‘Broadcast’ feature to send a message out to all the groups.
Encourage each group to select one spokesperson to share on behalf of their breakout room after you come back to the large group.
Even more ways to Butter!
If these activities have you excited about new ways to use Butter, we’ve identified even more Facilitation Cards that you can use with different features (and don’t they look snazzy on MIRO?).
📒 Related reading: Designing engaging workshops: 10 tips for remote facilitators
Get more workshop participation
Thanks for sharing, Meg! We encourage you to check out Facilitator Cards, and you can connect with Meg personally on LinkedIn.
To put these facilitation tips into action, you can get started with Butter for free.