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Keeping Participants Engaged When They Can't Join By Video

Asking your online workshop participants to turn their cameras on is probably one of the first things you do to ensure your workshop will be engaging. So what do you do when an issue like low bandwidth makes it impossible for your participants to join with video?

Barbara Covarrubias Venegas from #virtualspacehero has 4 excellent tips on how to keep engagement high even when your participants are having trouble joining with video.

Barbara CV's Top Tips For Keeping Your Participants Engaged When They Can't Join By Video

1. Interact more through chat, annotation and whiteboard

When your participants can’t see each other, the more avenues they have to communicate and express themselves the better. Consider posing questions in the chat box, preparing slides that participants can interact with using the annotation feature, or preparing activities to run using a virtual whiteboard.

2. Use reactions and emojis

Reactions are a great way to take stock of how your participants are feeling, especially when their cameras are off. You can quickly pause your session for some non-verbal feedback (“hit the ‘thumbs-up’ if this is making sense…”) or encourage them to give reactions throughout the session.

3. Use tools like Mentimeter, Slido and Kahoot! for gamification

Gamification is a powerful way to gain and maintain participants’ engagement. Tools like Mentimeter, Slido and Kahoot! let you create games, polls, quizzes and more, which allow your participants to engage with each other even if they can't see each other.

Check out this article if you’re interested in learning more about how Slido and Mentimeter can help you boost engagement in your online workshops.

4. Ask your participants to set a profile picture

Having your participants set a profile picture goes a long way towards building a sense of community and shared space in your workshop. This makes a big difference when your participants are unable to turn on their video - having your participants represented by a picture is far better than speaking into a sea of blank tiles!

Bonus Idea: using the Move Around feature in Seshboard

One of our favorite features in Seshboard is the ability to Move Around in a customizable virtual space. By letting participants 'vote with their feet' and get fully immersed in the conversation or activity you want to lead, you can spark engagement in your sessions even if your participants have had to turn their cameras off. If you're interested in learning more, consider booking a personal demo with us to see this feature in action.


It's far from ideal when your online workshop participants can't join with their cameras on. However, by following the four tips from Barbara described in this article, you can make sure to deliver as engaging an online workshop experience as possible. For more fantastic tips and resources from Barbara and the #virtualspacehero team, check out their website at

Interested in learning more about how to maximize your participants' engagement during online workshops? Check out the other articles in our Guide to Online Engagement.


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