Why bother with a workshop? Can’t we do a conference call instead?


We live in a time where the problems we are trying to solve are becoming increasingly complex – or ‘wicked’ as they’ve been coined by Professor Keith Grint. Brexit is the perfect example of this. It can’t be solved by just one person, nor is there just one simple answer.

The same applies to the challenges we face in communications. That is why we believe that workshops will always be an invaluable part of the strategic and planning process. Getting the right people around the table to analyse, question, solve and create solutions is the fastest way to seek alignment and move to action, rather than going around in circles on emails and conference calls.

Not only that, but the act of building something together, in person, has the powerful impact of creating a commitment to making things happen. People become personally invested in its success.  Run well, a workshop has the ability to become company folklore – the catalyst for positive change.

At MullenLowe salt, we run a variety of workshops for clients and, over the years, have refined our top tips for running a successful workshop. Here’s 9 tips on how to make your workshop work harder:

  1. Quality over quantity – don’t cram too much in to the agenda. It can be tempting to cover a lot of ground but you’ll get a much richer discussion if people have time to think and dig deep into one or two topics, rather than skim over multiple.
  2. Death by PowerPoint – a picture says a thousand words and is more thought provoking than a slide of text. Consider different presentation formats to keep the thinking fresh.
  3. Purpose – get really clear on WHY everyone is gathered together. What is the problem we are trying to solve? Get commitment from attendees but most importantly the main client so there are no surprises.
  4. Planning – where possible, aim to have the session in the morning when energy levels are high, rather than in the afternoon when people get tired and attention and focus slow down. Chose a location that is light and airy with enough space to breakout into teams of three or four.
  5. Diversity of people – have a good mix of attendees from varied backgrounds and ages to get a broad range of perspectives and solutions.
  6. Inspiration – select examples that are hyper-relevant to the challenges at hand, not just because they are cool or trendy. What can be learnt from them and applied to the topic under discussion? Also consider bringing in external speakers and experts to bring insight and stimulus.
  7. Mobile etiquette – agree mobile and email etiquette at the start. Ask “is it ok we don’t look at our mobile until a break?” and aim to get consensus from the whole group.
  8. Exercises and topics to discuss – keep the ask simple and the brief clear, especially when English is not the first language. Consider the needs of extroverts and introverts and allow enough talking and thinking time for both.
  9. Outputs and outcomes – end with an upbeat summary and be clear on actions as a result of the discussion.

And finally, don’t underestimate the power of sweets and snacks to keep up the energy (or the negative impact of carb-overload at lunchtime)!

If you would like to find out more about our workshops, or how we could work with you, then please get in touch at hellolondon@mullenlowesalt.com.

Photo Credit: https://uk.edubirdie.com.