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Remote Facilitation with Brain Science at WIA Singapore

Updated: May 4, 2020

Can you hold learners' attention for 90 min in a virtual session? Yes, with the help of cognitive neuroscience principles, simple tools and breakout sessions in Zoom!

Remote Facilitation workshop at Women in Agile - Singapore was a second iteration on this topic for Kriti Jaising and me. Instead of lecturing about brain science principles and "4C Framework" we knew from Sharon Bowman's "Training from the Back of the Room" method, we chose to demonstrate them in action!

C1: Connection - connecting learners with each other and the topic

Tools: Zoom (chat, name box, participant window), Mentimeter


  1. Asking participants to update their name by adding location, turning on their camera, saying hello in chat.

  2. Inviting them to join a Mentimeter session and respond to questions:

3. Sharing "Suggestions for success" and asking for a "Thumbs up" agreement in participant window.

C2: Concept - "Tips for Remote facilitation"

Tools: Zoom chat, paper, pen

Activities: I used an interactive lecture with graphic organizer to share my favourite tips:

  1. Start with connection

  2. Use your camera

  3. Make the group small

  4. Plan for more time

  5. Keep it simple

A point about Camera. There are many hesitations people have when getting on the camera is still new to them. It is uncomfortable at first, however, (bandwidth permitting) it is a must for effective collaboration in groups.

We engage in communication through verbal expression, tone of voice and body language, with body language surprisingly being the loudest (55%) of all three.

Turn off you camera and you are turning off the major part of your communication. You also find yourself multitasking and paying less attention to the conversation.

And when you are the one, delivering a message to a grid of muted black boxes with names? Not pleasant. It triggers a fear response in you, affecting relatedness - one of the five social domains from David Rock's "SCARF" model.

C3: Concrete Practice

Tools: Zoom breakout rooms, Chat, Participants Window

Activities: This is where we created breakout rooms and instructed everyone to Teach Back - imagine that another person in your breakout room has just join the class. Your goal is bring that person up to speed with what you learnt so far. This activity is useful for solidifying the material and it is fun why to create a bit of personal connection in a large remote group. For a few people this was their first time in a breakout room. Their response?

One on one connection was valuable
Fun to meet someone new
I love teach backs - thanks!

Another activity we used here - Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down to enable quick recall, validation of the principles we taught. Using Thumbs icons in the participants window, everyone invited to provide a response to a prompt on the screen.

C4: Conclusion

Tools: Zoom chat

Activity: Quick write - in 30 seconds write the name of your favourite tool/technique you learn in this class or used in your own session.

Then take a 30 sec to read everyone's responses. This is a fantastic activity that let's you harvest lots of data in a very short time. Here are the tools this group likes (aggregated into a word cloud). And here is a link to a Trello board with more tools and ideas, collected and shared by one of the participants.

Deconstructing Part 1 of the workshop

Kriti Jaising did a fabulous job connecting the first part of the workshop with learning principles (''6 Trumps" ) and the instructional design model ("4C") from Sharon Bowman's method. As a true "guide on the side", she led us through applying all of the principles as we stretched ( "Movement trumps seating"),

we took notes on a Window pane ("Writing trumps reading"), used metaphors and pictures ("Images trump words"), engaged in another Teach Back in breakout rooms ("Taking trumps listening"), played with a short Soctrative quiz ("Shorter trumps longer") and engaged in variety of activities ( "Different trumps same").

Final C4 - virtual touch

Typical C4 includes a celebration of learning. While we were all in different locations, we played with a simulated "hands touch", which brought in the final burst of positivity we all needed today!

Blog post from one of our participant - Yogini Moodley with the coverage of this event.


Couldn't make it to this session?. Check out my other classes and community events:

Community Event at PMI NYC Chapter (May 8, 2020) -

Remote Collaboration Unleashed. Register here



May 12 - May 15, 202

(Australia/New Zealand timezone)

Experiential learning online! Re-imagine your facilitation, workshop delivery and collaboration with brain-based principles and Liberating Structures. Register here



May 16, 2020

Experiential learning online! Learn to facilitate DevOps Culture change with Lego and Chocolate Simulation Game. As seen in 15 countries, 50 conferences and private clients. Register here

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