Setting up and moderating an online workshop + 📹

Set up an online workshop, define the steps, add rooms and configure the steps. Add a Q&A, polls, dot voting, group input and breakout rooms

Stijn Zwarts avatar
Written by Stijn Zwarts
Updated over a week ago

In this article we’ll explain how to set-up, customize and moderate an online workshop on your platform. You’ll learn how to tailor the workshop functionality, hold live video meetings, and set up breakout groups to facilitate simultaneous group discussions.

If external participants have trouble with video, sound or joining the workshop, you can send them this support article that might help.

Below you'll find a step-by-step description that guides you through the main steps of setting up your very own online workshops.

1. Create a workshop

To access your workshops interface click on “Workshops” in the admin panel.

In this interface, you will see the option to add a new workshop. Clicking on this button will prompt you to pick a name and date for your workshop.

The slug defines the url where participants will find your workshop. E.g. if your slug is 'climatepolicy', the link to the workshop will be ''.

2. Define the steps

You can manage the different steps and activities of your workshop through the "Manage" button on the top right corner of the workshop screen. Once you've entered the admin panel, click on +Add step to specify the different steps that you would like to have in your workshop. Commonly, this includes a "Welcome" step at the beginning, a "Conclusion" step at the end and a few steps in between for discussion and break-out rooms.

3. Add "rooms"

You can add as many rooms as you would like for your workshop by clicking on the +Add room button in the admin panel and giving the room a name.

There are two types of rooms: a main plenary room, where all of the participants are together, and smaller break-out rooms, which the participants will sort themselves into for more interactive discussion. As a rule of thumb, one break-out room for every 5-8 participants seems to work well.

Each time you add a new room, you will be asked to configure the video chat settings.

  • Raise hand button: Do you want participants to be able to (virtually) raise their hand so that the moderators can see who is waiting to speak?

  • Microphone toggle / camera toggle: Do you want participants to be able to turn their webcam and microphone off/on along the way?

  • Start with microphone / Start with camera: Do you want participants' webcams and microphones to be enabled as soon as they join the workshop? (We recommend not enabling this setting for larger workshops, as having a lot of video and microphones on at the same time can create lag and noise)

  • Screensharing enabled: Do you want participants to be able to share their screens?

You cannot disable these settings for platform administrators and project managers. They will always have access to all of these (and more) options, regardless of the room configuration.

4. Configure the "roomsteps"

During this step, you need to define what needs to happen in each room during each step - we call this a "roomstep." You can do this by hovering at the intersection between the step and the room that you want to configure and clicking +Add roomstep.

When you add a roomstep, you have a number of participation methods to choose from. Each of these participation methods affects the interaction on the right side of the screen. The video is always visible on the left side of the screen, no matter what participation method you choose (see below for more details on each method)

  1. Q&A: the right side of the screen will display a series of questions that you define, that the participants can then respond to.

  2. Poll: ask your participants one or more multiple-choice questions.

  3. Dot-voting: Let the participants vote to help you decide which topics to dive into.

  4. Grouping input with tags: group workshop input that belongs together

  5. Info: the right side of the screen has a simple text box where you can input text and images.

  6. Breakout rooms: participants are asked to choose a breakout room to join, or are randomly assigned to a breakout room.

  7. Summarise discussion & Report out: facilitators (platform admin and project managers) can collectively author a conclusion of the discussion. When reporting out, discussion summaries from breakout rooms are all shown on the screen, allowing the breakout rooms to share their conclusions with all workshop participants.

5. Test it out and keep editing

You can always easily run through your workshop, test things out and check if everything is set up the way you envisioned.

You can advance steps by clicking on the "Next step" button on the top right of the screen. You can choose to immediately advance to the next step, or select a timer that lets everyone know that the next step will start in 10 seconds, one minute or five minutes.

If you want to go back and check one of the steps, open the 'Manage' interface, and click 'Go to step' on the step that you want to go to.

You decided that you want to change the order of the steps? No problem. You can move steps between each other in the Admin Panel using the Reorder Steps button. Click on the icon, change the order of the steps, and click on the icon again to save the new order.

To end the workshop, click on 'End workshop for all' on the top right-hand side of the screen, which leads all participants to an exit page where they can provide some feedback.

Note: When testing, don't add written input yourself. We currently don't have an easy way of erasing that test input later on. So you would need to completely redo that roomstep configuration in order to get rid of it!

6. Share the link with participants

When you are done with setting up your workshop you can share the link of the workshop with the participants. The URL of the workshop is the way to access the workshop.

Simply copy the URL and (e.g. '') and paste it in your message or put it behind a button in a project on your platform.

7. Detailed information per method


With this method, you can ask your participants one or more questions. You can then give participants the option to "post" (i.e., write their responses onto a digital post-it note) and/or "vote" (i.e., upvote posts). The maximum length of written answers is 255 characters, and you can choose for the posts to either be configured as square cards or as rectangular cards that are displayed in a list format.

You could also break this into two separate steps: in one step, you could ask participants to post their responses, and in the next step, ask participants to vote on the responses they agree with most.

Tip: Select 'Copy Q&A inputs from previous step' if you want participants' answers of the previous step to remain visible in the current step as well.


Let participants choose one of the options that you have predefined. First fill in the question of the poll. Then click on “Add/edit answer choices”. Here you can fill in the different answer options and you can also select the option for multiple selection.

When you enter the step with the poll you’ll need to activate the poll as an admin or moderator. Once you are done collecting input you can close it and the percentages will be visible immediately for everyone.

Dot voting

After collecting lots of input during a Q&A phase in workshops, you'd want to select the items to further discuss in a (breakout) group. And a voting round would help you decide which ones to dive into.

Also, voting gives participants another powerful way of expressing their opinion without the stress of 'speaking up' in a room full of people they don't know yet.

That's where the dot voting method comes in handy. As a facilitator, you give each participant a total number of votes, or 'dots'. They can freely cast them on any of the collected input items, and choose to vote more than once on the same item. The flow is very similar to dot voting in an offline setting.

1. Setting up ‘dot voting’

Select 'Q&A' as the participation method for the step and room where you want to make use of dot voting. Add one or multiple questions you want participants to share input on.

Select 'Dot voting' as the voting method and define

  • The 'Purpose of the voting'. This is shown to participants and offers them guidance on how and with what intention they should cast their votes. You can define your own purpose or pick one of the default options.

  • The 'Votes per participant'. This should be a number between 1 and 10.

2. Start voting

Once the online workshop arrives at the step with dot voting, and once the input has been collected, as the facilitator you can click 'Start dot voting'.

Important: Once you've started the dot voting, no more input can be added.

Once the dot voting has started,

  • Participants will be able to cast their votes, see the number of remaining votes, and filter on the items they have voted on. They won't see others' votes.

  • The facilitator will be able to do all the above, while also keeping track of how many participants started voting and how many votes have been cast so far. This information helps you to understand when people are struggling with this method, and when it's a good time to end the voting.

3. End voting

When everyone had a chance to vote, you can click 'End voting'. Doing so will show the voting results to all participants. As a facilitator, you can choose to sort the voting results by the total number of votes or by the total number of participants who voted.

After discussing the results, you can take one of the following actions

  • Move to the next question;

  • Move to the next step;

  • (Restart the dot voting, which will erase all previous votes).

If the next step uses the 'Summarize discussion' participation method, the dot voting results will be shown there as well, to help the group write a summary of the discussion.

Grouping input with tags in an online workshop

When collecting lots of input, it can be very challenging as a facilitator to guide a face-to-face discussion based on those individual items without losing the overview. That's where input grouping comes in. Through tagging, you can identify the bigger themes, needs, patterns, ... within all the input you've collected. This is how it works

  1. As a facilitator, you group the input that 'belongs together' (same topic, same need, same trend, ...) by giving them the same color-coded tag. All participants will see the tags you've added.

  2. Input can be sorted by tag to facilitate a face-to-face discussion on those bigger topics and trends instead of on the individual input.

  3. When collaboratively drafting a conclusion, you can take those input groups along to support you in the writing process.

  4. Retrieve all information in your export file.

Sharing information

This ‘method’ is good for information-oriented steps. You can share written information using the "Info text" text box. The info text box here (and in other steps) can be configured with basic text formatting options, including bullet points.

This step can also be used if you'd like to give a presentation. The share screen option allows you to broadcast a presentation or other media from your computer to other workshop participants.

Tip: use the "Full screen for all participants" button on the top left of the video screen to make all workshop participants go into full screen mode. If you combine this with sharing your screen, they will have a much better view of whatever document you are displaying.

Breakout rooms

Want to have smaller group discussions? No problem. Use the "breakout rooms" participation method to create a lobby - it will prompt all of the participants to join a smaller break out room (these are the additional rooms that you added in Step 3: Define your rooms).

You can choose two options for breakout rooms:

  • Self-selection: Allow participants to self-select which breakout room they will join

  • Random assignment: Randomly distribute participants into a breakout room

To randomly assign participants to a breakout room, select the Random Assignment method. Once you have entered into the breakout room step, any workshop admin can click the button "Distribute participants to breakout rooms." This will evenly assign participants into the different rooms. Workshop admin will remain in the lobby and can join whichever room they choose.

Don't forget! You will need to configure each of the smaller break out rooms with their own participation method.

Do you have several break-out rooms that require the same configuration in a given step? Create the first room with the settings and questions that you'd like, and for the other rooms, check the box to 'Share the configuration' of the first room - it will automatically copy that configuration, including the info and the questions. When you make changes to the configuration of one room, it will update all other rooms sharing the same configuration. This can be a real time saver.

Summarise discussion & report out

These 2 ‘methods’ are parts of the same conclusion flow. Use the 'Summarise discussion' method in the last step where people are in smaller break-out rooms. This generates a text box that allows you to collaboratively draft a group conclusion (Note: anyone can type in and edit the text in this box. To edit the text, click the "edit text field" box above the text field - to allow someone else to edit the text, just uncheck the box.)

If you want to share these smaller break-out room conclusions with all of the participants, you can use the 'Report out' method in the next step, combined with bringing people back to the main plenary room.

This would be similar to bringing everyone back together from small groups to share what they had discussed in an "in-person" workshop. In the 'Report out' step, the discussion summaries that were generated in the breakout rooms are automatically shown for everyone to see.

8. Exporting the data

When you're done with the workshop, you can export all of the input that was provided through the polls, the Q&A cards, and the input conclusions step. In the admin panel, you'll find an icon at the top labeled "Export Data." It will automatically download an Excel spreadsheet with this information - one tab for each step in your workshop.

9. Troubleshooting video/audio problems for workshop admins

If you or your participants are having difficulty getting your audio or video to work, below are a few basic troubleshooting options:

  • Make sure to turn off any other video chatting application while doing a workshop, as other tools might be using and blocking your camera

  • Ensure that the camera and microphone are enabled in the Chrome browser. You can access these settings by clicking the padlock icon next to the URL in the address bar.

  • Within the video area, you can also check the settings of your microphone and camera by clicking on the microphone and video icons on the bottom of the video screen, and also in the Settings on the bottom right of the screen.

  • You can also try deleting the cookies on the site and sometimes, a good refresh of the browser will help solve the issue!

10. Important notes:

Workshop capacity

The workshops support up to 500 participants. If you have many participants, the speed and quality of the video may degrade. You can help to prevent this by setting people's cameras to be 'off' by default when they enter a room. If 500 people are already in the room, no one else will be allowed in.

Access and browsers

  • The workshop is only accessible on desktop devices, so not with a tablet or a smartphone.

  • The workshop is only accessible with Google Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge as the browser.

  • For people using company laptops and networks: check upfront if your Citrix/VPN/and other security settings allows you access to this link. Sometimes, there is an issue with how the networks are configured. If you are having issues accessing the workshop, contact your IT department to see if they can modify the firewall settings (open up on port tcp 4443 and UDP 10000 - 20000 on all addresses), or in a pinch, try using your personal laptop or personal internet network.

Adding an image into an info box

You can also add an image in the text box by inputting a URL where the image is hosted. The image needs to be hosted by a provider such as - make sure to use the direct link and copy/paste it into the text field.

Admin rights

Anyone who is signed into the CitizenLab platform as an Admin or a Project Manager can be granted Admin rights in the workshop. This means they can manage the workshop, add/edit steps, advance the steps and end the workshop.

Important: The first Admin or Project Manager who enters the workshop room is assigned 'superadmin' rights. By clicking on the three dots on the top right of any other Admin or Project Manager's video screen, you can grant them Moderator rights as well. This will allow them to mute and kick out participants.

Need more help or support? Contact our Support Team via the chat bubble in the admin panel.

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