Back in the summer I shared some of the techniques I’d been using to reimagine my in-person architecture workshops as remote digital offerings with Miro. I’ve learned a few more tricks since then which I think are worth sharing.
My typical workshops usually range from 2 half days to 6 half days in duration spread over the course of 1–2 weeks. They’re a mixture of lectures and hands-on exercises. There’s a lot of content, both mine and generated by attendees, so it’s very easy for large boards to become a big mess.
I typically do 2 big, pre-planned workshops per-month run either publicly or privately. So I’ve had a good run of experimenting with ideas and iterating on techniques for managing the mess. Here’s my key learnings so far…
Choosing a Macro Structure
As more content is added to a Miro board the board becomes harder to navigate. This is annoying for attendees and facilitators, and it impacts engagement and energy.
I have been organising my content into modules. Typically, each half day (4 hour session) is one module. This also has the reverse of effect or forcing me to design each half-day around a very specific focus.
When the modules are laid on the Miro board, they provide the high-level narrative of the workshop.
In the image above, I have 1 frame for each workshop module (lasting 4 hours / half-day):
- Day 1: Intro to Strategic DDD & Finding Bounded Contexts
- Day 2: Messaging & Interface Domain
- Day 3: Core Domains and Context Maps
Laying Out The Structure in Advance
I like to put the whole workshop structure on the Miro board right from the beginning of the workshop so attendees can always see the full structure. They can see which topics are coming up, which is hopefully adding a bit of excitement and engagement.
Within each module, there are sections covering sub-topics within the module. These are visible from the very beginning of the workshop, however the content is hidden.
As you can see above, each section has a label and content. The content is hidden behind a Coming Soon cover but attendees can browse the sections in each module so they know what to expect during the workshop.
Hiding Content in Miro
Miro now has the ability to hide frames. I initially began using this feature for sections within each module. However, it became problematic for a few reasons:
- Too many frames on the board, making the frame navigation feature useless
- Frames take up a lot of visual space. The stand out with a shadow and have big text above them. I don’t want this noise inside modules.
- Only the board owner can unhide frames, so if you have 2 facilitators only 1 can unhide frames
- Nested frames have a few other UX glitches
So now I just use rectangles with the placeholder text and I lock them. Works fine.
Everything On The Board, Including Slides
One of the best things I’ve learned is to put literally all workshop content on the Miro board. This has transformed the workshop experience and increased collaboration and engagement tremendously.
At first I just wanted to solve 2 problems:
- avoid having to switch between Miro and screen-sharing my slide decks in Powerpoint/Keynote
- giving attendees access to slides
When you put your slides on the Miro boards, both of the above problems are gone. However, I discovered something even better!
As I was talking through my slides on Miro, people started to add comments, questions, links to related blog posts, and even jokes. I didn’t feel like I was talking into space anymore, the whole experience just felt more connected and engaging. And I think there is a lot more that can be done here to make the experience even more interactive.
I now encourage people in my workshops to think of the Miro board as a shared space for making notes. Add stickies, links, images, and any other useful content all around the slides. Let’s capture all of the good ideas we talked about. After workshops I put the board in read-only mode, so any notes added will live indefinitely.
Protip: Space out your slides so there is lots of room to add comments around them
Protip2: Lead by example: start adding your own post-its and links around the slides to show attendees it’s acceptable and useful
Be careful what you wish for though:
I recently began using Miro even for non-interactive lectures. I enjoy scrolling around a Miro board much more than jumping slides in a deck. It feels a bit more natural and puts me in a different frame of mind. I feel like I’m discussing ideas rather than putting on a big presentation. Here’s an example: https://ntcodingplay.herokuapp.com/speaking/talks/defining-socio-technical-boundaries-with-the-bounded-context-canvas
Welcome & Check-in
Having an attendee self check-in frame serves a useful purpose. Attendees can add a bio and their workshop expectations before the workshop begins so no time is lost doing that at the start of the workshop.
I use a welcome frame to add facilitator bios, an outline of the workshop goals, and useful bits of information that are useful for attendees to think about before the workshop begins such as how to use Miro or anything else that will allow them to get more from the workshop (like useful reading links).
Miro has a great feature where you can add hyperlinks between objects on the board. Sometimes I’ll have a TODO list of items on the Welcome frame which link out to other frames.
Miro is a great tool for running workshops. I hope you found these tips useful. If you have any questions or tips of your own, please feel free to leave a comment.
Maybe one day I’ll even write my articles in Miro…