Here’s what we’ve learned from facilitating over 500 creative workshops

Here’s what we’ve learned from facilitating over 500 creative workshops

We made all the creative workshop facilitation mistakes so you don’t have to!

Myself and my team have run thousands of brainstorms, workshops and training sessions (that’s Anahita above facilitating with Google). We’ve spent many hours designing and re-designing to create and deliver exciting, impactful, useful sessions. The art of facilitation requires a whole bunch of in-demand skills and good prep is one of them.  And we’re sharing some of our go-to tools here to help.

Try new tools and and adapt the free brainstorm template, alongside the tips here, and flex it to your own style and project needs.

As I’m sure you already know, there is no one or right way to run any creative session.  Where we can help is to provide some structure and ideas you can swipe.

Do you know the definition of facilitation? It means ‘to make easy’. We also think of it as the:

  • Process that assists meeting participants to work to their objectives and achieve their goals
  • Focuses on the participants, not the facilitator
  • Way to create a safe space for everyone to express their thoughts (see our blog on psychological safety)

What we’ve learned:

  1. There is no one-size fits all. BUT the one thing that will never fail you is prep. What you do outside of the room matters as much as what happens in the room. And by room we mean real or virtual.
  2. What is the problem? Write it down as simply as you can. Then write it 5 x differently – change the verb, say from attract to lure to encourage to enable. Ask everyone to write their ‘Twitter’ brief – say it in 280 characters or less. What’s life or death? Read more about briefing here.
  3. Explain it to your gran – get rid of jargon
  4. Ensure you have stimulus – customer insights, imagery, the results of any research or product information and your chosen creativity tools
  5. Break the group into pairs or trios – not involving the whole group, all the time
  6. Allow time for generating ideas and separately for evaluating them
  7. If it all goes Pete Tong – take a 5 minute comfort break and regroup
  8. Make sure you have prepped and resourced yourself – have you done everything you can to prepare yourself, mind, body and spirit so that you can be fully present and engaged and create a playful atmosphere and environment for creativity and collaboration?

Check out these resources and free templates:

  1. Use trends as resources – have 5-10 relevant trends ready to use and use as triggers for your challenge
  2. Use the candor app – have a remote brainstorm with one of our favourite online tools 
  3. Get to the root of the problem with the five Whys
  4. Do the opposite of what’s expected with this ‘reverse your thinking’ tool
  5. Scamper – this is one of our favourite ways to oil the creative wheels

We have created a short, practical ‘How To Brainstorm and Facilitate Like A Pro’ module as e-learning that you can take at your own pace and work through your own challenges to get prepared. It costs £30 + VAT, to use in even more depth alongside the template. Find it here.

Or join one of our open training workshops or book an in-house session for your team. Contact

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