Business Simulations; Face-to-Face, Virtual or Hybrid?

Article by Ken Thompson, last updated July 2021

As we start to move from totally virtual working it is important to understand the different options for running Business Simulations

You need to decide in advance what type of Business Simulation event you are hoping to run and then plan and prepare accordingly.

This short guide introduces 4 group engagement options and 2 facilitation options for post-lockdown working.

To run a Business Simulation you need to:

a) Engage with the participant group as a whole (plenary) and in teams (breakout groups)

b) Facilitate (directing, guiding, answering questions, offering encouragement, sharing observations and leading discussions) to the whole group, specific teams and individuals


There are 4 different modes you can engage a group around a Simulation:

1. Virtual Meeting Mode

Typical Video Conference call (e.g. Zoom, Teams, Hangouts) with all participants remote.

Team engagement using virtual breakout groups.

Team leader shares screen with breakout room colleagues.

Teams can independently access e-documents.

2. Traditional Meeting Mode

Typical pre-covid setup.

All teams in the one room for plenary sessions with space or adjoining rooms for team-based discussions.

Teams huddle round a single team computer to run the Simulation.

Extra Preparation Required:

  • For independent document access hard copies must be circulated to team by the Facilitator.
  • Only 1 internet connected computer needed per team but screen needs to be big enough for all team members to see.

3. Physical Meeting with electronic documents (Hybrid type 1)

As per 2. (Traditional Meeting Mode) but each team member also has their own internet connected device (computer, tablet or smart phone) which they can use to independently access the e-documents.

Extra Preparation Required:

  • Participants need to be reminded to bring their own devices

4. Physical Meeting with Virtual Meeting support (Hybrid type 2)

As per 3. (Physical Meeting with electronic documents) but with a Video Conference call also running for all participants.

This allows some teams to be remote and some participants also to be remote within the teams - thus this option is the most flexible for any hybrid sessions but requires careful planning!

Extra Preparation Required:

  • In this scenario you essentially have a virtual call but with some participants in the same room. This presents a problem on the audio side with the potential for audio feedback and pickup of unwanted background noise. To address this participants need to be guided and reminded to mute their microphones and use headsets. 
  • The facilitators and all participants need to be mindful of any virtual teams and participants so they dont feel excluded or not fully participating. It is very easy to concentrate on the people who are in the room at the expense of the virtual participants who can be forgotten. Thus all plenary conversations should use the virtual platform to fully include those not physically present.
  • Participants need to be reminded to bring their own devices (including headsets).


There are 2 simulation facilitation modes:

Physical Facilitation

The Facilitator is physically present with the group. This works in all cases except, of course, case 1 (Virtual Meeting Mode).

Virtual Facilitation

The Facilitator is remote. This works in all cases.

In cases 1 (Virtual Meeting Mode) and 4 (Physical Meeting with Virtual Meeting support) the Facilitator is part of a virtual call just like everyone else. In case 4 they will not be present in the room with the other participants.

In cases 2 (Traditional Meeting Mode) and 3 (Physical Meeting with electronic documents) there needs to be a virtual call setup between the Facilitator and the group (who are all together). Note the Facilitator may only be able to engage with the group as a whole (plenary) and not with individual teams - if this is a key requirement consider switching to case 4 (Physical Meeting with Virtual Meeting support).

Extra Preparation Required:

  • This requires a dedicated computer which makes the remote Facilitator's screen, webcam and voice accessible to the whole group (usually projected on a large screen).
  • There may also need to be a conference microphone in the room so the Facilitator can properly hear the participants questions etc.


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Ken Thompson

Ken is a practitioner, author and speaker on Leadership, Collaborative Working, High Performing Teams, Change Management, Project Management and Business Acumen. His work has featured in major publications including The Guardian , Wired Magazine, The Huffington Post and The Henry Ford Magazine. Ken has also spoken at many international events including TEDx, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Learn Tech (London) and NASA.

Ken is Founder of Business Simulations Ltd.

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