What are your favourite online facilitation tools?

The simple answer: Zoom.

But there are some aspects to consider. There are cheaper alternatives. And there are other, more specialised, options. More about those later.

What is so great about Zoom?

It's very stable and robust. And it offers good video quality. And after couple of sessions you can find your way around really easily. It's simple and there are just enough features. Everyone can use it. (And you like the virtual backgrounds! - Ed)

What is bad about Zoom?

It is not the cheapest. If you need multiple accounts, the cost can be significant.
And Zoom has many add-ons that hike the price even more. My advice: don’t use them. The plain basic (paid) version is fine for all meetings, events and workshops.

But what about security? We've never been Zoom bombed or had an uninvited guest. If your organisation's IT has blocked Zoom, of course we respect that. It's why we sometimes have to use Teams or something else.

Many corporations have lived firmly in the Microsoft ecosystem since long before the remote boom and are locked into Teams (or even Skype). Don’t get me wrong, Teams is not bad. It just doesn't feel like it was designed to be easy for workshops. It feels like a meeting tool. And those are not the same thing. And the Microsoft ecosystem requires an amount of background commitment and resources that seems unnecessary for us.

How do we use Zoom?

We rarely use Zoom alone. And with that I mean we never use just Zoom for workshopping without Howspace or Mural/Miro.

We do the talking in one channel and the “work” in the other.

And we don’t tend to workshop alone. We always have a team of facilitator and a copilot. The co-pilot is crucial in supporting the facilitator by admitting people, being a help desk and performing any other background duties to free the facilitator up to focus on the participants.

You can add as much tech as you want. Sometimes we break out all the toys. We have video and audio mixers, cameras, mics, studio lights and kilometres of cables. But sometimes just a basic webcam and headset is right.


Zoom alternatives

Google Meet - Cheap and easy to use. But the feel is not very professional. Basically, not enough features.

Microsoft Teams - The only choice for many corporations. Not bad but lacks some key features and easily adds a little dusty smell to calls.

Airmeet, Hopin and others - Built with the goal of bigger online events with multiple tracks and a conference feel. They typically create a keynote speaker-to-audience atmosphere that is not great for collaboration. For workshopping, Airmeet offers a social lounge where people can join a table and start a discussion. Hopefully, at some point, one of these new conference services will get the combination right - with Zoom's simplicity, video quality and ability to see all participants, coupled with flexible, adaptable conference features - but we haven't found it yet.

Wonder - An interesting alternative for specific events. In Wonder people can wander around the “floorplan” and pop into pre-set rooms or start a conversation with anyone they meet. Suitable for relaxed gatherings or “world cafe” type workshops where people can choose a place to contribute.


I hope online workshopping is here to stay as it is usually more economical, efficient and environmentally-friendly than meeting up face-to-face, especially in massive companies.

The video conferencing platform scene has been flooded with investment and I am really looking forward to whatever new innovative services we will see next.

But for now we'll stick with Zoom.

- See you soon, Miikka




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