Interactive Online Session Design 101

Interactive Online Session Design 101

Publish Date
Feb 12, 2022

The 5 Design Elements That Will Cure Zoom Fatigue

This is a guest post by Facilitator and Experience Designer Gwyn Wansbrough.
Have you ever struggled to make your online sessions more interactive?
During the pandemic, I have led hundreds of online sessions on Zoom. I immersed myself in everything there was to know about virtual facilitation.
I learned that there were some core design elements that would, without fail, increase engagement and interaction in my sessions.
I use these 5 design elements in every session I lead.
Using these elements will save you time and guesswork when you design your virtual sessions. Your group members will participate more. And you'll get better results.

Unfortunately, most online sessions aren't designed for interaction.

A lot of people still default to lecture-style content delivery. But the best online sessions combine great content delivered in an interactive and engaging way.
Once you learn these design elements you'll have a template that you can use over and over again.
Here are the 5 elements:

Element 1: The Welcome

The first minutes of a session are mission-critical for success. It's when participants decide whether they trust you and want to participate. That's why designing a warm welcome is so important.

Element 2: The Warm-Up

Athletes know the importance of warming up. The same goes for group work. Warm-ups help people feel safe, connected, and creative. And it can be as easy as a quick group check-in.

Element 3: The "3 A"s: Aims, Agreements, Agenda

So much group time is wasted when the purpose of the session isn't clear. That's why you need to be explicit about the session aims, agreements, and agenda. This will help you and your group to get aligned.

Element 4: The "1-2-4-All" Rule

The 1-2-4-All rule helps you design for individual work (1), work in pairs (2), in small groups (4), and in the whole group (all). This will unleash more energy and creativity in your group.

Element 5: The Closing

Like every good story, every interactive session has a beginning, a middle, and an end. We need endings to make meaning and take action. The best closings give everyone an opportunity to share something they've learned.
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Gwyn Wansbrough is a Facilitator and Experience Designer based in Barcelona, Spain. She empowers people and organizations around the world to create dynamic and empowering online experiences.
She runs a 4-week live cohort-based course called Breakthrough Facilitation. She writes about facilitation, creativity, and learning in a weekly newsletter called The Quest. Subscribe here or visit to learn more.