July 30, 2021

6 Easy and Engaging Ways to Onboard New Collaborators to MURAL

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New to MURAL? New to facilitation? Visual collaboration unlocks the imagination and fun in meetings. Even though MURAL is an intuitive platform, many professionals can find the idea and practice of visual collaboration intimidating.  Imagine your first time facilitating a meeting with MURAL. No one on your current team has ever used MURAL. How do we get them up to speed so you can get to work?! The MURAL community has some advice

Pick a topic that resonates 

“One thing that I think is best avoided is to plan to do too much 'real' higher-stakes work too quickly, before clients have figured out the basics of how to navigate within MURAL. In other words, there needs to be a long-enough on-ramp for folks who are new to MURAL.” - Jonathan, Consultant

There’s nothing like learning a new tool when the stakes are high. Create an optimal learning environment by picking a topic for your meeting that is familiar to your collaborators and easy to accomplish together. Some examples to consider: run your daily stand up, do a retrospective, or brainstorm your next onsite. 

Anything your collaborators already know how to do is a great place to start. This way you are introducing a new platform — not a new platform and a new way of working. By choosing to start with something familiar and low stakes, you increase your collaborators’ cognitive processing to learn MURAL. 

Prep your collaborators

Steep learning curves negatively impact great experiences. New collaborators want to make sure they are ready and able to start contributing right away. There are a few ways to accomplish this and adjust based on what your collaborators are working together on. 

Many of our MURAL members create short videos to show collaborators a basic overview of the platform. You can also use ours to get started!

MURAL expert on demand @jeroen shares that the preparation for the session depends entirely on the length of the session. 

For a one time event, he uses welcome exercises that require members to use core visual thinking tools like add a sticky note, change text, and/or add an image or icon. Sometimes, he shares a 30-second video. This takes a short amount of time and gets everyone ready to participate. 

Whereas when starting a project, he uses sandbox style exercises that increase “awareness & confidence” while also working on the project kick-off. This makes the work meaningful and inspires better collaboration. 

Personalize the experience

Everyone learns best when the tool and project they are working on matters to their work and/or their personal experiences. Our MURAL members recommend sending blank murals for collaborators in order to increase confidence and decrease “day of” learning jitters. 

Creating this space for each member depends on what you want to accomplish and what your collaborators find engaging. Here are a few options to consider: 

  • Send a blank mural for people to play with
  • Create four MURAL-specific actions that will introduce them to the other meeting participants 
  • Build your pre work (videos, linked articles, and brainstorming or thought collection) and send it to the collaborators in advance
“Before any consulting session, I create a practice mural and invite everyone to the mural at least a week prior. Many introverts and technophobes like to be prepared, and they get stressed about the platform rather than focusing on the work. This has been helpful to avoid that. You can put a couple practice exercises in there too, if you have any specific tools you'll be asking them to cover.” - Ryan, Corporate Executive

Make it playful and fun

Learning happens faster and sticks around longer when things are fun. And MURAL brings the fun by default! Try using creative games or icebreakers to teach the skills you want your collaborators to have before you start your meeting. 

A good example of this is how MURALista Benji teaches first-time collaborators the basics of layer visuals by moving to the front or back. With his burger layout theory, he teaches them how to build unique and compiled visuals with a competition of who can build the hamburger the fastest and most accurately to win the game. 

Looking to teach some MURAL basics? The Obstacle Run is a fun way for collaborators to play and learn at the same time. 

“For my classes, I have a MURAL Challenge racecourse that my students have to complete before they can move on to the rest of my course. The secret is the link behind the present at the end of the race — it takes them back to a part of my course. It is an expanded version of a template in MURAL with a few videos embedded.” - Greg, Researcher

Leverage your MURAL Facilitation Superpowers™

Ready to make your meetings shine and stand out? MURAL’s Facilitation Superpowers™ are unique features that supercharge collaboration and make meetings more interactive, engaging and fun. 

⏰ Need to time a certain activity? The timer feature keeps your activities on track and lets collaborators know when to wrap up.

🎉 Looking to celebrate a key milestone? Facilitators can emphasize positive moments through delighting collaborators with a pop of confetti! 

🔎 Want to inspire confidence as collaborators brainstorm? Private mode enables facilitators to temporarily prevent collaborators from seeing each other’s new content to help generate diverse ideas and avoid groupthink.

💡 Looking for more facilitation tips? Check out MURAL Learning to get started building your skills. 

Set up your mural for success

As the facilitator, you have (virtual) control of the mural. One of the biggest struggles we hear from first-time collaborators is actually the simplest to resolve by locking the areas and images that you don’t want participants to be able to move.  Your collaborators will feel much more comfortable taking actions on the mural if they know they won’t accidentally move something as they’re engaging with the content. 

MURAL community member Cris W loves the process of gradual discovery. However, he considers the following to be his list of the most useful features and keyboard shortcuts to highlight for new collaborators:

  1. Locking 🔐
  2. Summoning 🦆🦆🦆
  3. "Z" + Drag to zoom 🔍️
  4. Highlight + right-click then Download CSV 🗄️”

Get connected and inspired

When you onboard new collaborators to MURAL, you give them — and the rest of your team — the power of visual collaboration. 

Looking for more inspiration or want to share what’s been successful for you? Join in on the conversation in the MURAL Community, where our global community members are innovating, problem solving, and inspiring one another.

Happy collaborating!


Amanda Petersen

Amanda lives and works from a little old farm house in Vermont. She brings 15+ years of experience as a facilitator, trainer, coach, and community builder to her current role as one of MURAL's community managers. Start a conversation with her now in the MURAL Community, or follow her on Twitter @amandarhiann

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