Baking in progress: a wood table has a used sifter, four eggs on a dish towel, scattered walnuts, a second sifter on top of a jar of cocoa powder, a bowl of dark red jam, and a central bowl full of flour and cocoa powder. This last bowl also has a wooden spoon.
ATD Blog

Follow a Recipe to Create Successful Virtual Activities

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Share a piece of this advice for sweet results.

The difference between a webinar and live virtual training, says Kassy LaBorie, is that webinars consist of “knowledge-based” learning objectives, a larger number of attendees, are interactive, and are generally around 30 to 60 minutes long. Virtual training, on the other hand, is rooted in “skills-based” learning objectives, features a smaller number of participants, is interactive and collaborative, and is usually one to three hours long with breaks.

In “Irresistible Virtual Training! There’s a Recipe for That,” LaBorie, founder and principal consultant of Kassy LaBorie Consulting, provided strategies for how to use several activities in the virtual space based on a recipe that she first outlined. That recipe includes:

  • Identifying the goals of objectives. What do you need to accomplish? And what does that look like?
  • Determining what’s social. What objectives should be completed with other people to be most effective?
  • Mapping the interactions to the features of the platform you’re using. What features do you have available and how can you use them for interaction?

Rothstein - Sketch - Kassy LaBorie - Irresistible Virtual Meetings

The Virtual Ball Game

Consider an in-person activity that facilitators often use—tossing a ball to participants and having them reply to a cue, such as telling the others in the classroom something about themselves—as an icebreaker activity.

LaBorie demonstrated how this game can be translated into the virtual space by having participant images on a slide, posing a question, and “asking” a participant to reply by circling their image. After that person responds, they “throw the ball” to another person who then answers.


After explaining the activity, LaBorie asked attendees for what purpose they might use the virtual ball game. An icebreaker is one option, but attendees also suggested that the activity could be used for an elevator pitch, brainstorming, refreshing key takeaways, and team meetings.

Based on the “recipe,” the activity’s objective is to get people connected to each other and to the purpose of the session; the social aspect is initiating dialogue in an interactive environment; and the platform features might include a slide, annotation tools, audio, and a webcam.

Image Connect

LaBorie next shared how the image-connect activity—providing learners with nine to 12 numbered images and asking them to select the image that describes them, their role, their personal life, etc.—can be used virtually by displaying the numbered images on a slide.


Session attendees suggested that the activity could be used in a virtual training to describe your team’s culture, the status of a project, a product or service in the context of a sales team and customer, and more. Depending on the platform you’re using, you might use the breakout room feature, chat, or annotation tools.

Similarly, for a quotation-connect activity, the facilitator may post nine to 12 quotations (rather than images) that relate to the training topic, such as change.

Escape Games

When introducing the escape game activity, LaBorie gave a shout-out to Rachel Arpin and her TD magazine article, “ Get Out,” which describes an online escape room experience.

Then, LaBorie introduced a similar activity, centered around the objective of learning more about an online platform and its features by playing around with it—it could be Zoom, Teams, or Adobe Connect, for example. She presented a scavenger hunt-style activity and advised using breakout rooms for groups to solve the puzzles to “break into Zoom” (or whichever technology is chosen).

The session not only left attendees with LaBorie’s experience and wisdom on using virtual activities, but also ideas from others on how activities can be used in a variety of ways to further learning.

About the Author

ATD23 News is your source for news, updates, and session coverage for ATD’s 2023 International Conference & EXPO.

1 Comment
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Thank you for the excellent summary and PICTURE! If you would like more details on these activities and more ideas for additional ones, check out my book filled with over 75 of them here at the ATD Bookstore:
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