Do you talk during online workshop breaks? Here are some thoughts.
I’ve been thinking about aspects of when we take breaks while facilitating an online workshop. For example, we may need time to set up the next activity, or people need a bio break, refill their drink or just to take a quick stretch. Should we be filling that time with chatter, music, or do we just stay quiet and let people have that time to rest?
I have a couple of different thoughts about this and would love to hear your opinion(s).
To chat or not to chat? That is the question…
One part of me is mindful that people may like that downtime to relax and regroup. Some people like to step away take a 5 or 10-minute break to decompress and rejuvenate for what is to come for the rest of the meeting. I know that if you’re running an intense learning session that it might be good for your participants to step away, stretch and just stop for a little while.
Keep the momentum going…
The other part of me thinks that sometimes breaks are an opportunity to answer some questions or connect with the next guest speaker. Sometimes if it’s a self-reflection or read the case study portion of the learning session, some soft music could be playing. However, some people find music distracting. Sometimes I play some music right before people return, as a signal that we are starting again, and it sets the tone or energy level. People have different learning preferences or needs and this can also impact the details you choose when facilitating breaks.
What is your preference?
A break with music or talking may be great for some, but others might appreciate the time to switch off for a bit. For those who welcome the downtime, they can always turn their sound down during the break, but will they remember to turn their sound back on, in time? You do run the risk of some people returning after you’ve started up again.
One option is to set a countdown timer with your shared screen so that if people do turn their sound off, they will see the countdown if they’re near their computer. Here’s a previous post on how to set that up: CREATE COUNTDOWN TIMER
Breaks with purpose…
As I mentioned before, an idea is to just let people rest and start music a minute before you are about to resume your meeting. You can also have an activity or mindful minute before you begin again. Consider asking someone ahead of time to lead a stretch activity, or share a video clip.
Remember to plan your breaks to give you time to set up the next activity or breakout room. If you are planning an intention break for your facilitation needs, then be sure to ask people to NOT leave the digital learning room.
Consider your participants and what their context and needs are when you handle online learning or meeting breaks. Another option is to conduct a poll, or ask your participants to write in chat. Sometimes the best way to serve your participants is to ask what they need.
I would love to hear your thoughts about what you prefer. You can add comments on YouTube under this post’s video.
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Patricia Regier is the founder of Regier Educational Services. Expertise in helping facilitators engage the variety of learning types in your audience. Education includes a Master of Adult Education, a BA in Psychology, and twenty years experience developing and facilitating workplace, community and collaborative training. Learning and Development Consultant, Facilitator, and Master Virtual Producer. Utilizing teaching adults best practices, and innovative multi-media resources to emphasize your message.
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