Collaborating online gets less attention than straightforward video conferencing but it’s where the action is. Here’s how we use one of the most popular whiteboard apps in our meetings and workshops.
Emails, Skype calls and webinars offer a sliding scale of remote idea swapping, from the chance to share opinions in writing or verbally, to checking-in visually and sharing screens. Collaborating means going from the passive viewing and responding of many of the tools companies use to communicate ideas remotely, to actively inputting thoughts as a meeting, workshop or project evolves.
MURAL describes itself as a digital workspace for visual collaboration. It’s a freeform whiteboard space to use as you see fit, by posting virtual sticky notes, drawing shapes and arrows, and embedding images and videos. Multiple participants can add to a Mural, either with their name attributed or anonymously.
Multiple participants adding to a Mural
One of the elements we love is named “Facilitator Superpowers”, which offers tools well suited to professional facilitators and team leaders. These include the ability to “summon” everyone to a particular area of the Mural, set a timer and conduct a “dot voting” style session where participants vote on their favourite ideas.
Setting up a MURAL voting session
As well as the freeform whiteboard space, MURAL is home to a collection of templates that are ready to use, to help team members find solutions together. Templates include sticky notes for each participant to type their answers on to and place in the relevant area. Here are a few of our favourites.
The Importance/ Difficulty Matrix is often used in our workshops and MURAL brings it to life accurately online for or remote sessions. It is a powerful tool in either real or virtual use, enabling teams to clearly define their priorities.
The Team Charter (pictured below) is a more complex exercise but equally well handled on MURAL, proving bigger strategic tasks do not need to be reserved for in-person meetings. It allows individuals to comment on standards of quality, core values, group norms, roles, and metrics of success to “define a set of concepts and skills that focus and guide your team”.
The Project Planning template maps out every aspect of the task ahead, asking participants to define goals, measure success and define cost, participation and obstacles to success.
Another tricky area, agreeing how to communicate most effectively with interested parties, is handled in a template on managing stakeholder expectations. Working through the demands of each unique situation helps to get everyone on to the same page.
We usually use MURAL with Zoom, the video conferencing software, and have breakout groups chatting over audio while they look at the Mural using their web browser. Once participants have had a little practice flipping between Zoom and MURAL, and getting used to adding virtual post-its and annotations, the experience becomes remarkably like a face-to-face workshop.
Get in touch to find out how these technology solutions can help run successful workshops and meetings. We’d be happy to join you on a Zoom call and give you a guided tour of MURAL.