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AMA ft. Rachel Davis + Jonathan White - Distributed '22

  • 17 November 2022
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AMA ft. Rachel Davis + Jonathan White - Distributed '22
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Rachel Davis is a facilitator and workshop experience designer with a soft spot for creative problem-solving. After over a decade of the 9-5 grind, she now runs her own consulting business helping others create workshops, tap into their inner facilitator, and create immersive sessions. Rachel has created over 80 workshops, a combination of both in-person and virtual. Miro is her jam for virtual workshops.

 

Jonathan White is Founder & CEO of Hiro Studios, a facilitator and Miro Experience Designer. Jon and his team work with clients and colleagues all over the world to create amazing Miro Experiences that get audiences excited and engaged. Drawing from his 20+ years of experience as a Lean Consultant, Jon has a natural, warm, and entertaining facilitation style, and an uncanny ability to bring models, tools, and templates to life in Miro. Jon and Rachel are an awesome duo!

Through working together, they’ve not found a methodology or approach that can stump Jon (just try us!), so consultants, trainers, coaches, and facilitators can both exhale with relief and rejoice with him on their side. Jon loves movies so much that he has his own movie review podcast, so make sure to chat him up about your favorite flick! Jon is also wild for remote collaboration (thus his passion for Miro), so if your question is ever “What do we do?”, his response will definitely be “Create a Miro board!”

 

Ask Rachel & Jonathan About... 

  • Creating Space for Creativity in Workshops

  • Integrating Play into Remote Collaborations

  • Workshop Creation (Strategy, Activities, and anything else you can think of!)

  • Miro Tips and Tricks

🔗 Missed Rachel and Jon at Distributed ‘22? Watch their session recording here.

💡 Make sure to check out more from Rachel and Jon in the Miroverse.

 

Question, comment, and like below👇🏿


27 replies

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Throw those questions at us!! We can’t wait to give all the answers! 🙌

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I imagine, that, in working with clients and partners, your goal or inclination toward “adding play and creativity to a workshop” isn’t always welcomed immediately…. Like I picture a “serious-minded” business person saying “we don’t have time for that…” or “I’m not sure the boss boss is gonna appreciate this section…” … that people look at creativity or play in a workshop as childish, frivolous, pointless… basically do not see it’s value.

 

  • Have you found yourself in this situation?
  • If - so, How do you advocate for the value of creativity in the workshop
  • Have you had someone resistant “come around”? What got them there..? 
Userlevel 1

I’m totally new to Miro! What’s one exercise you’d recommend introducing Miro to your team with. To get them comfortable and excited using the platform? 

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I imagine, that, in working with clients and partners, your goal or inclination toward “adding play and creativity to a workshop” isn’t always welcomed immediately…. Like I picture a “serious-minded” business person saying “we don’t have time for that…” or “I’m not sure the boss boss is gonna appreciate this section…” … that people look at creativity or play in a workshop as childish, frivolous, pointless… basically do not see it’s value.

 

  • Have you found yourself in this situation?
  • If - so, How do you advocate for the value of creativity in the workshop
  • Have you had someone resistant “come around”? What got them there..? 

 

FANTASTIC question @Max Harper Its actually on of the questions I ask in some of my “Building Play into Remote Collaboration” workshops.

  • First of all you have to start with a shared vocabulary. What does PLAY actual mean to everyone. Many people think about that work differently. One of my favorite quotes from Gary Ware’s book, Playful Rebellion, is “Childlike is not Childish” - I have it on a post it right near me at all times now. 
  • When I talk about play its about wonder and curiosity. Wonder and curiosity then propels the generation of novel and different ideas. You can’t get there without it, you stay stagnant. 
  • Play does not have to be goofy, there are way to integrate characteristics of play in a way that is seamless to your work. 
  • It’s a mindset shift that play is different than work, in my mind play is essential to work.

This is not going to change overnight. Yes I’ve had people push back, and my mindset is if I can’t get them there they aren’t the client for me, they aren’t ready for it. Some approaches to get people there could include:

  • Shared vocabulary (like I mentioned above)
  • Examples of play integrated with work that led to novel ideas 
  • Leaning into new mindsets with your clients around what’s going to really get them to their goals -- asking questions like why isn’t what they are doing now working, what was the trigger for a workshop like this, and helping them see that doing it differently is going to get them momentum. 

Theres so much more but this is a start! Feel free to ask followup questions!! 

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We can’t wait to see what other questions you have for Rachel and Jonathan! Ask more questions below for a chance to win! We will be gifting 1 person who asks a question in this thread exclusive Miro swag from our Miro Swag Shop 😎

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” … that people look at creativity or play in a workshop as childish, frivolous, pointless… basically do not see it’s value.

 

​​​​

Great points! I also think trying new ways of working can be very intimidating in a public work setting. Some feel expected to “play” and essentially add value, but the tools and environment feel awkward or inaccessible to them. A lot of people aren’t used to co-creation or using new tools on the spot. Especially outside of creative / design fields, I’ve found brainstorming is often done in the form of talking meetings and keeping meeting minutes / summaries.

I’d be curious how different moderators have found success with intro’ing Miro to new users or if they make them go through a basic training to learn basic UI tools? 

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I’m totally new to Miro! What’s one exercise you’d recommend introducing Miro to your team with. To get them comfortable and excited using the platform? 

 

Hi @Roya Shariat great question!

 

Here’s a couple approaches I use:

  • Before the workshop as you send out your agenda get people excited, Invite them to build with you during your session, make it an experience… How can you turn that pre-workshop moment into something they remember… not just a calendar invite. 
    • Maybe you record a quick video or loom showing them around Miro and getting them excited about it.
    • Maybe you include a little paragraph about Miro and a link to the using Miro as a participant video (its short and impactful!) - Participant onboarding video from Miro Academy 
    • Make sure you tell them ahead of time you will be using Miro and what it is :) -- A virtual collaboration tool to help us gather thoughts and ideas and immerse ourselves in the workshop. 
    • Maybe send a pre-workshop board with some onboarding (like in the templates below) and an asynchronous ice breaker activity. 


You can also use some great Miroverse templates to help people get a bit more comfortable:

 

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I’m totally new to Miro! What’s one exercise you’d recommend introducing Miro to your team with. To get them comfortable and excited using the platform? 

This is a fantastic question @Roya Shariat!

I like to think of Miro users in two categories: contributors and creators. Creators are those who take the time to create amazing Miro experiences for their teams and clients. Contributors are those who will come to a workshop or session and provide their feedback. The skillset required to be a creator are much more intensive than to be a contributor, as creators are required to know more about everything the Miro platform can do, and blend this with meeting the overall purpose of the workshop or session (solving a problem, obtaining feedback, managing a workflow, etc.).

When introducing people to Miro for the first time, you should choose a very simple activity that they can contribute to, typically an ice breaker (or ice melter as @Rachel Rachel likes to say). Use this activity to introduce Miro to the team, show them it’s focus on synchronous collaboration, and teach them the four basic tips that every new Miro user needs:

  1. navigating around the board
  2. zooming in and out
  3. selecting objects, moving objects, adding text
  4. undo

Here are a few great ice melters from the Miroverse that Rachel posted based on our Miro Improv sessions. Hope this helps!

https://miro.com/miroverse/warm-up-miro-newbie-to-ninja/

https://miro.com/miroverse/ice-melter-this-or-that-alien-style/

https://miro.com/miroverse/ice-melter-this-or-that-astronaut-style/

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Great points! I also think trying new ways of working can be very intimidating in a public work setting. Some feel expected to “play” and essentially add value, but the tools and environment feel awkward or inaccessible to them. A lot of people aren’t used to co-creation or using new tools on the spot. Especially outside of creative / design fields, I’ve found brainstorming is often done in the form of talking meetings and keeping meeting minutes / summaries.

I’d be curious how different moderators have found success with intro’ing Miro to new users or if they make them go through a basic training to learn basic UI tools? 

 

@McNisky I actually just answered @Roya Shariat above with some of those very approaches for introducing new users to Miro. 

 

I have some interesting thoughts myself on how to do effective brainstorming. 

 

As a facilitator, one of my goals is to help conversations unfold. Now tools can help that but you’re right they aren’t critical to getting to outcomes. It’s more about what can enhance the experience. I find Miro does really help with this. I would say you don’t have to have a fancy board, even if you are just capturing the thoughts on stickies, that’s a start to making sure you don’t lose the momentum. 

You can also just start with let’s say a loose structure for a talk -- I absolutely love to use Rose, Bud , Thorn as an actual brainstorming activity. It’s simple and straightforward. People talk about positives, negatives, and opportunities related to any challenge or even a “How Might We… “ statement. 
 

Then your buds (opportunities) give you a starting point for action and implementation. Maybe I should make this one into a Miroverse template 😉 I know theres a bunch already out there though! 

 

 

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” … that people look at creativity or play in a workshop as childish, frivolous, pointless… basically do not see it’s value.

 

​​​​

Great points! I also think trying new ways of working can be very intimidating in a public work setting. Some feel expected to “play” and essentially add value, but the tools and environment feel awkward or inaccessible to them. A lot of people aren’t used to co-creation or using new tools on the spot. Especially outside of creative / design fields, I’ve found brainstorming is often done in the form of talking meetings and keeping meeting minutes / summaries.

I’d be curious how different moderators have found success with intro’ing Miro to new users or if they make them go through a basic training to learn basic UI tools? 

 

Out of necessity, my team has created a very basic Miro orientation board that covers the basics for new users @McNisky. It contains a basic overview of Miro, some basic tips to get started, a space to try things out, and then a focused ice breaker activity. We prefer to take folks through this myself so I can answer questions on the fly, but if folks want to go through it independently, we have provided visual instructions and video demonstrations wherever possible. Here it is if anyone wants to take a peek, set in our very approachable coffee shop theme :)

 

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Out of necessity, my team has created a very basic Miro orientation board that covers the basics for new users @McNisky. It contains a basic overview of Miro, some basic tips to get started, a space to try things out, and then a focused ice breaker activity. We prefer to take folks through this myself so I can answer questions on the fly, but if folks want to go through it independently, we have provided visual instructions and video demonstrations wherever possible. Here it is if anyone wants to take a peek, set in our very approachable coffee shop theme :)

 

 

 @Jonathan White that’s so fancy I haven’t seen what your team created yet --- THIS IS AMAAAAZING!!! WOW!

Great points! I also think trying new ways of working can be very intimidating in a public work setting. Some feel expected to “play” and essentially add value, but the tools and environment feel awkward or inaccessible to them. A lot of people aren’t used to co-creation or using new tools on the spot. Especially outside of creative / design fields, I’ve found brainstorming is often done in the form of talking meetings and keeping meeting minutes / summaries.

I’d be curious how different moderators have found success with intro’ing Miro to new users or if they make them go through a basic training to learn basic UI tools? 

 

@McNisky I actually just answered @Roya Shariat above with some of those very approaches for introducing new users to Miro. 

 

I have some interesting thoughts myself on how to do effective brainstorming. 

 

As a facilitator, one of my goals is to help conversations unfold. Now tools can help that but you’re right they aren’t critical to getting to outcomes. It’s more about what can enhance the experience. I find Miro does really help with this. I would say you don’t have to have a fancy board, even if you are just capturing the thoughts on stickies, that’s a start to making sure you don’t lose the momentum. 

You can also just start with let’s say a loose structure for a talk -- I absolutely love to use Rose, Bud , Thorn as an actual brainstorming activity. It’s simple and straightforward. People talk about positives, negatives, and opportunities related to any challenge or even a “How Might We… “ statement. 
 

Then your buds (opportunities) give you a starting point for action and implementation. Maybe I should make this one into a Miroverse template 😉 I know theres a bunch already out there though! 

 

 

Wait, this Rose-Bud, Thorn framework is just what I needed! 

I co-lead an ERG at work, and the 9-5 grind is weighing on the leadership team. We're thinking of doing an offsite early next year to get the juices flowing again. It'd be cool to use this Rose-Bud-Thorn concept because it seems like a fun but powerful way to have the let's go over past year's wins and fails discussion, but more freshly and engagingly. Looking forward to using this. 

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Wait, this Rose-Bud, Thorn framework is just what I needed! 

I co-lead an ERG at work, and the 9-5 grind is weighing on the leadership team. We're thinking of doing an offsite early next year to get the juices flowing again. It'd be cool to use this Rose-Bud-Thorn concept because it seems like a fun but powerful way to have the let's go over past year's wins and fails discussion, but more freshly and engagingly. Looking forward to using this. 

 

Amazing! :) Can’t wait to hear how it goes @McDaniel Jeantus!

Loving all of this info! How can one best use Miro or any other tools to foster creativity in a hybrid workspace, where half of your team may be working from home while the other half is in the office? 

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Loving all of this info! How can one best use Miro or any other tools to foster creativity in a hybrid workspace, where half of your team may be working from home while the other half is in the office? 

 

Good question @Arianna Davis!  I think creativity is fostered through inclusion, and Miro really shines in this space.  Hybrid meetings and events can often leave the remote attendees feeling left out or lacking, as they are not in the live room where a lot of the attention is usually focused. A good hybrid event or meeting will make the remote attendees feel as included as the in-person attendees.

Really think about this when considering your next meeting or event. If you have a problem to solve, using stickies in Miro to give everyone the opportunity to brainstorm or ideate is much better than opening the mic for whomever has an idea. Often, introverts will take a back seat to the loudest voice in the room, and some people are intimidated by the highest paid person (Hippo!), so they will not speak up or put a spotlight on themselves.

In Miro, we can all have the same voice and if we create our workshops with this in mind, we can get more, better ideas out there to consider. Just because some people are quiet doesn’t meant they don’t have the best ideas, so get everyone involved by building your workshops with tons of structured time and space to get introverts and those connecting remotely involved!

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We still have a whole half of a day left! Throw those questions at us! A little MidJourney illustration for your pleasure. @Jonathan White and I are considering a Miro Improv session using some MidJourney assets in the future!

 

 

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We still have a whole half of a day left! Throw those questions at us! A little MidJourney illustration for your pleasure. @Jonathan White and I are considering a Miro Improv session using some MidJourney assets in the future!

 

 

WHOA! This is very cool!

Rachel, what made you do the jump from a 9-5 to running your own business? Any tips to those who want to follow suit?

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Rachel, what made you do the jump from a 9-5 to running your own business? Any tips to those who want to follow suit?

 

Hi @Joseph Zambrano this has been a zig zaggy road for me :) I’ve done everything from work for start ups to nonprofits and large (like huge) corporations. I was wanting a bit more freedom to take on projects that aligned with my own purpose -- Bringing joy and energy to immersive workshop experiences (this is both virtual or in person)

Even while in other jobs I’ve always been an intrapreneur -- and entrepreneur just within another company!

I like to work the way I work best and this is the way to do it. 

My advice for other who want to jump ship and do the same:
➡️ Really get clear on your purpose of what you’re doing -- have a point of view 

➡️ Start to build a personal brand around that point of view, join related communities, make your voice heard out there (like on LinkedIn), speak at conferences, anything that aligns 

➡️ Always check in with what you’re doing and ask yourself - is this aligned with my ultimate goals, does this activity help me get there, and if not, it’s ok to say no! 

➡️ You’re not alone, there are a ton of communities and people out there to build relationships with and have support. Don’t be afraid to ask questions (like you’re doing now) -- no one knows EVERYTHING. 

➡️ It doesn’t have to be perfect to start -- I repeat don’t wait for perfect… just hit the ground running, pick up some clients on the side of your 9-5 to  get a taste of it (but don’t overwhelm yourself, you don’t have to do it all at once) 

 

Here’s a little tip about narrowing in on what you really want to do -- 

➡️ Make sure you are doing what you really want -- there’s a skills wheel that I actually adapted from a Miroverse template, list your skills around it, mark where you currently are with those skills and where you want to be in terms of expertise. THEN you take 3 hearts and place them on things you would gladly do all day every day, then take 3 Xs and put those on things you never want to do at all…. (This can be done even for a full time job too) 

 

 

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Rachel, what made you do the jump from a 9-5 to running your own business? Any tips to those who want to follow suit?

 

Hi @Joseph Zambrano this has been a zig zaggy road for me :) I’ve done everything from work for start ups to nonprofits and large (like huge) corporations. I was wanting a bit more freedom to take on projects that aligned with my own purpose -- Bringing joy and energy to immersive workshop experiences (this is both virtual or in person)

Even while in other jobs I’ve always been an intrapreneur -- and entrepreneur just within another company!

I like to work the way I work best and this is the way to do it. 

My advice for other who want to jump ship and do the same:
➡️ Really get clear on your purpose of what you’re doing -- have a point of view 

➡️ Start to build a personal brand around that point of view, join related communities, make your voice heard out there (like on LinkedIn), speak at conferences, anything that aligns 

➡️ Always check in with what you’re doing and ask yourself - is this aligned with my ultimate goals, does this activity help me get there, and if not, it’s ok to say no! 

➡️ You’re not alone, there are a ton of communities and people out there to build relationships with and have support. Don’t be afraid to ask questions (like you’re doing now) -- no one knows EVERYTHING. 

➡️ It doesn’t have to be perfect to start -- I repeat don’t wait for perfect… just hit the ground running, pick up some clients on the side of your 9-5 to  get a taste of it (but don’t overwhelm yourself, you don’t have to do it all at once) 

 

Here’s a little tip about narrowing in on what you really want to do -- 

➡️ Make sure you are doing what you really want -- there’s a skills wheel that I actually adapted from a Miroverse template, list your skills around it, mark where you currently are with those skills and where you want to be in terms of expertise. THEN you take 3 hearts and place them on things you would gladly do all day every day, then take 3 Xs and put those on things you never want to do at all…. (This can be done even for a full time job too) 

 

 

@Rachel posting gems here. Going out on your own takes a lot of time and consideration. If you have some capital to get going, you can jump start a lot of the basics, but if you are looking to transition slowly over a period, then definitely get a side hustle going and see if you can get even 1 person to pay you for your services. Do not invest in infrastructure (website, CRM, branding, marketing) before you have an idea you know you can run with. You can invest tens of thousands of dollars on things that will not grow your business if you do them too soon. Sometimes you have an idea so good that it explodes, but for most of us, It’s just a grind at the beginning, plain and simple, and it can take years to get established.

I can safely say that being a solopreneur for the past 5 years has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life. The highs and lows both hit harder than a 9-5 ever could. Because you answer to no one, there is a constant pressure to produce and deliver, and if you don’t balance your personal life and health, nobody else is going to do it for you. But after all the time and effort, when it works, it is insanely rewarding. And the people I have met, small business owners and startups who are all in similar situations, are all incredible in their ability to share their experiences and support each other regularly.

Going solo? 10/10 Highly recommend, but it is definitely not for everyone. Having passion is key, but this passion must be tempered with reality and what you can offer in terms of value that people will pay you for. Good luck if you take the leap @Joseph Z, and remember that we are always here to support you!

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@Jonathan White jumping in with all the knowledge bombs about going out on your own!! YESSSSS!

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Don’t forget that one lucky question asker will get a code for some MIRO SWAG!! We will be announcing the winner tomorrow so get your questions in. 

 

 

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Out of necessity, my team has created a very basic Miro orientation board that covers the basics for new users @McNisky. It contains a basic overview of Miro, some basic tips to get started, a space to try things out, and then a focused ice breaker activity. We prefer to take folks through this myself so I can answer questions on the fly, but if folks want to go through it independently, we have provided visual instructions and video demonstrations wherever possible. Here it is if anyone wants to take a peek, set in our very approachable coffee shop theme :)

 

 

 @Jonathan White that’s so fancy I haven’t seen what your team created yet --- THIS IS AMAAAAZING!!! WOW!

Definitelyyy going to use, this – Such a great primer and looks fun

Userlevel 6
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Out of necessity, my team has created a very basic Miro orientation board that covers the basics for new users @McNisky. It contains a basic overview of Miro, some basic tips to get started, a space to try things out, and then a focused ice breaker activity. We prefer to take folks through this myself so I can answer questions on the fly, but if folks want to go through it independently, we have provided visual instructions and video demonstrations wherever possible. Here it is if anyone wants to take a peek, set in our very approachable coffee shop theme :)

 

 

 @Jonathan White that’s so fancy I haven’t seen what your team created yet --- THIS IS AMAAAAZING!!! WOW!

Definitelyyy going to use, this – Such a great primer and looks fun

Y’all have inspired me to submit this orientation as a Miroverse submission! 

Userlevel 1

I’m totally new to Miro! What’s one exercise you’d recommend introducing Miro to your team with. To get them comfortable and excited using the platform? 

 

Hi @Roya Shariat great question!

 

Here’s a couple approaches I use:

  • Before the workshop as you send out your agenda get people excited, Invite them to build with you during your session, make it an experience… How can you turn that pre-workshop moment into something they remember… not just a calendar invite. 
    • Maybe you record a quick video or loom showing them around Miro and getting them excited about it.
    • Maybe you include a little paragraph about Miro and a link to the using Miro as a participant video (its short and impactful!) - Participant onboarding video from Miro Academy 
    • Make sure you tell them ahead of time you will be using Miro and what it is :) -- A virtual collaboration tool to help us gather thoughts and ideas and immerse ourselves in the workshop. 
    • Maybe send a pre-workshop board with some onboarding (like in the templates below) and an asynchronous ice breaker activity. 


You can also use some great Miroverse templates to help people get a bit more comfortable:

 

This is so helpful, I didn’t know these types of templates were available! Thank you so much. Can’t wait to dig into this more. 

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