8 Tips to Running a Successful Workshop

Make Things, Make Sense Podcast
Episode 8
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Workshops are a way to get the right people in the right place at the right time, they are a way to ensure commitment to solving an issue and if done right, a surefire way to align all stakeholders in the right direction.

We have all been in tough situations where people with common goals seem to have opposing ideas on how to reach those goals, or worse yet, no idea how to reach them. This is where workshops come. Whether they are following a specific module like the Brand DNA Workshop we shared in our last podcast or whether you are brainstorming with rules, also known as Gamestorming, a great book a good friend shared with me many years that really change the way we develop our custom workshops to help our clients reach their desired future states.

1. Prepare for the workshop

Here’s a sentence with a lot of p’s that highlights the importance of preparation. Proper preparation prevents poor performance.

  • Set a workshop goal: When expectations are not properly set and the goal of your session is not defined, the workshop will quickly devolve into unproductive conversations and your team will become demoralized;
  • Finalise attendee list and gather pre-meeting feedback: Involve everyone who will be part of the workshop as well as important stakeholders: whoever understands the budget, sales team, CEO, marketers, customer service reps, you name it, make sure they are in the right mindset to achieve the desired outcome of the strategy, don’t spring it up like a surprise, give people the time to plan and research;
  • Do your research- Look at your competitors: Who are your competitors. Perform a SWOT analysis on them and analyse what they are doing to bring more relevant information to the table
  • Prepare an agenda: Have a clear agenda for the workshop pre defined and don’t forget to finalise how long it’s going to run for. These workshops can take a fair amount of time and energy so be well prepared for it!

2. Start the marketing strategy workshop with impact

Starting the workshop strong sets the scene for the entire workshop. Make sure your introduction is impactful. If you’re so inclined, give it some flair, some music, throw a hat in the air and make it memorable, this is not your average meeting. This is anywhere between 2 to 8 hours to potentially days of working hard together as a hive mind to conquer. Give it the respect it deserves.

Set the Stage: Give an overview of where the company currently stands, set the stage for discussion of where you want to be and introduce the goals for the workshop.

Share some examples of how competitors or other known companies have solved problems to create some buzz and get people thinking creatively about your own challenge.

3. Learn your team’s personalities and speaking styles

Everyone communicates differently, as a quick example, there are 3 methods of communication we keep in mind at GG. Speaking in the provisional, which is what I do a lot of, where everything is an idea out in the open and ready for debate. Speaking in the planned where things are thought through, by the person and in their mid nearly ready to launch, so debate is less welcome and speaking in the promise where what we say is what we 100% do.

We also suggest knowing other’s personalities, whether you do a DiSC profile, a Myers Brigg test or any plethora of test out there, having a common way to address each other’s personality and mind set types, will not only give you good insights on how to leverage communication styles with those around you but also give you an opportunity for introspection to understand how you can be a better team player and brainstorm guru.

4. Get creative as hell

Creativity is key as you’re rethinking everything you’ve so far. There’s no such thing as a stupid idea in a strategy workshop… it should be a safe space to talk about even the craziest ideas. Allow people to think of ideas but remind them of marketing constraints in a gentle manner so that the discussion doesn’t go off track on ideas that aren’t viable due to budget, time or other parameters.

5. Don’t get derailed

These workshops can often go off-topic, especially if you don’t have external marketing experts running the workshop for you. It’s critical that you keep everyone on focus on the agenda and don’t waste time going off track. It can ruin the flow of the workshop and have big impacts on the outcomes. As hard as it may be, avoid unnecessary breaks, avoid breaking the overall focus of the group. Run your workshops, with your phones on silent, emails off, all chats off, just focus, it’s not often that a group of people sit in the same room to solve a problem, and every distraction takes a lot away.

Your 5 minute phone call, could throw people off for 15 minutes. 15 minutes multiplied by 5 people in your room, who have a value of €50 per person per hour, just cost the company €937.5! 

6. Intelligent Documentation

Your documentation This is pivotal to later success. There will be some key nuggets that you may not remember that can help define and implement the marketing strategy.

Find a tool to make your life easy, either ask us for any of our templates or use something awesome like Miro.com or any other workspace or white board tools out there that enable multiple to simultaneously edit a board and share ideas.

7. End on a high note and create a follow up plan

The roadmap is fundamental. You must end with a solid summary and a clear follow up plan. This is the first step towards your new marketing strategy. Use SMART goals and make sure everyone has their action points with clear timelines. Send the results out within 24 hours of
finishing the workshop and ensure that withing 48 hours everyone has acknowledged that what you sent out is the agreed understanding and next steps!

8. Provide Healthy Nourishment

If you’re in this for the long haul, i.e. 3+ hours add fruit and nourishing food, ideally not too sugary food to the table when you have a longer than 3 hour workshop, the right food is key to keeping people calm, not agitated, so that means not too much coffee, and focused on the goals.


For more insights on running a marketing strategy workshop you can refer to our blog here. If anyone needs any further guidance Growth Gurus can provide expert consulting and courses to help cause this is our bread and butter.

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