Workshop Facilitation Tips

Here are some tips for facilitating workshops.  Preparation is key!

General Workshop Facilitation Approach

In general, the approach to facilitating any workshop (be it a design sprint, problem mapping, or planning) is:

  1. Understand the outcomes so you start with the end in mind.
  2. Create a clear agenda. I like to use a Kanban board for the agenda so we can prioritise/deprioritise topics as we go.
  3. Frame up the workshop/design sprint by setting the scene and articulating the deliverables/approach and most importantly “why are we here”
  4. Create a collaborative and safe environment by ensuring everyone understands their role in the workshop/design sprint. You can use techniques like gathering individual thoughts using post-its, then grouping into themes. You can then talk to what we could/couldn’t cover in the workshop.
  5. Listen to the read.  Be able to read energy levels and pivot where necessary.  Consider appointing someone as a “Zen Master” who watches out for energy levels and suggests exercises for refreshers and calling breaks.  Often, this person is you, as the facilitator.
  6. Outline any workshop principles and expectations. You could co-create these by creating a workshop charter.  Some common examples are “Put your hand up if you have a concern.” or “Put your phones away”.
  7. Be fully present as a facilitator so you can support the team to get to their outcomes.

Preparation Tips

Here are some tips to prepare for a workshop:

  1. Work with stakeholders and the sponsor on co-creating the workshop outcomes.
  2. Use a meeting facilitator canvas, such as this one by Mike Sutton.
  3. Prep using the 7 P’s.  You can print them out from page 12 of this workbook.