Facilitation in the Digital Age: My Journey

Arne van Oosterom
3 min readJun 14, 2024


Yesterday I was interviewed by Cheska Teresa, Chief Growth Officer at Butter 🧈. They asked if I could share my workflow and experience with running engaging online sessions.

I really enjoyed the conversation and here are some of my reflections after the interview:

Before the pandemic, I rarely ran online sessions. I found them less impactful compared to in-person interactions. What I do is all about innovation, creativity, and empathy, which are so much easier and more impactful when you have people together in one room. However, the pandemic forced facilitators worldwide, including myself, to adapt to the online environment.

The Shift to Online Facilitation

The transition to online facilitation was not without its hurdles. Initially, it was awkward as both participants and facilitators grappled with unfamiliar technologies and the lack of physical presence. Creating human connection online was an obstacle. Tools like Miro and MURAL were introduced, but not everyone was comfortable using them initially. This led to a series of experimental sessions, like the Wednesday Web Jam, where we explored various technologies and techniques to enhance online engagement.

The Importance of Preparation

Meticulous preparation is crucial to the success of any facilitation session. I always emphasize understanding participants’ expectations and ensuring they are comfortable with the tools being used. I use SessionLab to design the session, which helps in scripting and time-boxing everything. Additionally, onboarding participants with short courses on tools like Miro ensures that technical difficulties do not hinder the flow of the session.

Keeping Engagement High

Maintaining engagement in an online setting requires creativity and flexibility. I start my sessions with personal and professional introductions, often incorporating simple games to break the ice. We want people to be in the room as individuals, not just as their job functions. Using Miro boards, where participants can see their names, expectations, and project details, helps create a sense of community and continuity.

Balancing Technology and Human Connection

Despite the benefits of online facilitation, the frustrations of using multiple platforms are real. If I could improve it, I would want everything in one place — video conferencing, capturing everything, and easy access for participants. Currently, the setup often involves juggling different tools like Webex, Zoom, Miro, and Dropbox, which can be cumbersome.

The Odd Replication of the Physical World

One thing I find particularly odd is our tendency to replicate the physical world — post-it notes, whiteboards, etc. — in the digital space. Why can’t we imagine something that is only possible in the digital space? It seems so unimaginative. We have this incredible opportunity to create new tools and methods that go beyond the limitations of physical objects, yet we often settle for digital imitations of what we know.

Dreaming of the Ideal Tool

Looking ahead, I envision a more integrated and seamless facilitation tool. It should fit with the way we interact with social media, accessible on phones, tablets, and computers. This tool would allow facilitators to give continuous challenges and support, blending into participants’ everyday work rather than being a separate entity.

Wrapping Up

My journey in online facilitation highlights the importance of adaptability, thorough preparation, and innovative engagement strategies. As technology continues to evolve, so too will the tools and methods facilitators use to create impactful and meaningful sessions. By embracing these changes, we can continue to foster creativity, innovation, and connection in both physical and virtual spaces.



Arne van Oosterom

Podcaster, Founder Future Skills Academy, Blue Sky Republic, Creative Leadership Coach, Founder DesignThinkers Academy and Group