Thinking in opposites: a workshop idea

One of my favourite tasks is finding and designing activities for workshops that will get participants thinking and working together. The more workshops you run, the more you’ll look for inspiration from all places to create these.

You might come across a story or case study, a game or an interesting question that gives you an idea for an activity you can run with your team or client to stretch their thinking.

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Facilitating your first workshop? Start here.

You’re about to run your first client workshop. There will be quite a few people coming and it seems like a daunting task. You’ve been a participant in some really great workshops before, but you’re not quite sure how the facilitator did it – they seemed to work some kind of magic.

But facilitation is not some kind of “mystical” talent that a few people have. It’s a skill that can be learned and improved with practice. From my own experience, I’ve seen that there are three stages to building confidence and skills in workshop facilitation. In this post, I’ll break them down so you know where to start.

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The value of visual frameworks in workshops

When you’re in the process of designing a workshop, you’ll be thinking about the right questions to ask your participants. This is more than just sitting around a table and going through the questions one by one – it’s also about the way that you ask them, and the activity that you craft around the questions to encourage participants to think differently. There are ways to design the workshop experience to make it much more interactive and engaging.

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How to run a productive team workshop

Throughout May and June, I’ve been focussing on “Doing, not talking” –  practical tools that can be introduced to teams, to actively help them work better together. For the last post in this series, I’ll address the team workshop.

Workshops are a great time to experiment and explore. But whilst they can be fun and energising, it can be difficult for teams to stay focussed, and also to keep the momentum going after the session.

Here’s an overview of how I plan project team workshops for productive results.

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Principles for a good project kickoff

The initial stages of a project can make all the difference to its overall success, so the kickoff meeting needs proper planning and consideration.

It might be your role to bring the team together, or you see a need to run your project kickoffs more effectively. Either way, it’s pretty hard to find comprehensive and/or up-to-date guides for how to run them.  Much of the material is loaded with traditional project management terms (Collaboration Catalysts are often not formally trained as project managers), not tailored for a creative environment and do not place emphasis on how interactive they should be.

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Get your meetings moving

Meetings get a lot of bad press, and not without reason. If run ineffectively they can be time-wasters and an energy suck. But if done well, meetings are often the best way of getting team members together to move a project forward, or to brainstorm.

The problem is that meetings are often a passive activity, with attendees not engaging, checking their smartphones and wishing they were somewhere else. I’ve been wondering how to bring a bit of energy into the usual ‘sit down’.

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