Manage participant's energy

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TL;DR recommendations
—Use micro and macro engagement moments throughout the session —Plan enough breaks —Use different conversation formats to tap into the knowledge and skills already in the room —Infuse your sessions with movement —Bring music into your session —Use short meditations for grounding —Be an example of the energy you’d like to see in the session

This is what it all boils down to for many of us: How do we manage energy during sessions and keep everyone engaged?

Distractions, lack of feedback, and monotony are the usual culprits, but luckily, a thoughtfully designed session will boost interaction, attention, and engagement.

A skilled facilitator knows that managing energy levels can help participants stay focused and engaged throughout the session, improving their learning outcomes. When participants feel energized and engaged, they are more likely to participate in discussions, ask questions, and share their thoughts. This increased participation can lead to a more collaborative and engaging virtual learning experience.

We often believe that the energy needs to be constantly high during our sessions, and that’s not always the best. Certain activities require us to slow down, and enter a contemplative and reflective state for the best outcomes. The key is knowing when to speed up and slow down.

We’ve compiled seven more tips for smooth and engaging sessions:

👉 Tip #1: Use micro and macro engagement moments throughout the session (thank you Mischief Makers for the tip!)

Interleave macro interactions like breakout conversations, virtual whiteboard activities, and main room debriefing with small interactions throughout the session: emoji reactions, soundboard, chat, interactive Flashcards, and polls. Small engagement hacks invite quick and easy interaction, while macro engagement hacks allow space for deeper conversations and spotlighting of participants’ individual contributions.


Jan Keck’s uses the so-called “Engagement Spiral” as a blueprint to engage participants and have everyone’s voice heard in a virtual session.

The framework has four steps:


Allow silent time for participants to gather their thoughts and form opinions before sharing. In Butter, you can ask them to use Private Notes.


Open breakouts and invite participants to share in pairs or small groups and build on each other’s thoughts.


Invite participants to bring everything they discussed, learned, and processed in the chat or on a whiteboard. Give them time to collect their thoughts.

Step 4: SHARE

Based on the written contributions, invite some participants to elaborate on their thoughts before the group and spotlight them as they share.

🎥 Watch the session recording and a live example of the spiral in action.

👉 Tip #2: Plan enough breaks

We have limited cognitive load and attention spans, and if your design doesn't include breaks, your sessions will be draining, and your participants will disengage, no matter how great your design is. Taking breaks allows them to process the information better and avoid mental fatigue. Especially important for the virtual environment, where the screen blue light can add extra strain to our eyes and impact our focus.

👉 Tip #3: Use different conversation formats to tap into the knowledge and skills already in the room

Conversations with other participants and often mentioned as workshop highlights: everyone has something interesting to share, so how can you harvest the creative energy in the room? Conversation formats You can experiment with these conversation formats in your sessions: —World CaféFishbowlLean Coffee

👉 Tip #4: Infuse your sessions with movement

Sitting in one position for an extended period can lead to physical health problems such as back pain, neck pain, and eye strain. Luckily, you can infuse your session with movement small activities like stretching and moving around in their environment. You can start experimenting with these low-key movement activities and notice an instant shift in energy.

Finger Disco is a simple and fun activity you can do to energize the room with micro-movements. We’ve learned it from Jan Keck.

Play upbeat music, and invite everyone to raise one pointing finger and start moving it. Then the second one. Then move both hands from the wrists. Then both arms from the elbow, and make the movement wider and wider. As a facilitator, set the energy tone high and model the behavior.


👉 Tip #5: Bring music into your session

One of the simplest ways to manage energy levels in your sessions is to use music to your advantage. Upbeat when you start the session or before a brainstorming session. And soothing for reflection moments or focus work. Here are three of our most popular playlists you can steal: Silly Walks It’s house (90s edition) and Calm Focus Playlist.

👉 Tip #6: Use short meditations for grounding

Sometimes you will want to center and ground your participants before moving into a focused activity that requires their full attention. You can bring in short visualization meditations or breathing techniques into your session, which will help everyone be present and grounded.


👉 Tip #7: Don't underestimate the power of example

One of the easiest ways to infuse your sessions with energy, is to be energetic yourself. Modeling the type of behavior and engagement you'd like to see will most likely influence some of the participants to “follow your lead”.

🧰 For your toolbox: