There are many factors that will influence the outcome of a co-creating meeting or workshop. This spans everything from using a moderator who is clear and enthusiastic, the questions you have selected for discussions, modern technical support and time estimated for different sessions. Yet, there are usually a number of practical things that are often overlooked. To bridge this gap, these are some tips that are worth considering even before you choose the venue for your event or meeting.
- Step down from the bleacher
Using a conference app with mentometer- and real-time dialog will typically improve interaction with the audience in a ”movie-setting”. However, if you really are interested in expanding your participants’ horizons or have them share their ideas, they need to be able to talk to each other in larger groups than two people. The symbolism with sitting in the audience and listening to executives and other experts also reinforce the expectation of sitting back and be passive.
- No more than six individuals to promote group dynamics
A workshop group should consist of no more than five to six people since optimizes the energy within the group and prevents the group to split up in sub-groups. Groups consisting of 5-6 individuals are also more likely to promote engaging conversations.
- Pick a big venue with many small tables
An obstacle that many workshops suffer from is the sound level at the meeting venue. On one hand, the sound level is a health sign since it reflects the energy in the conversation. One the other hand, if you don’t hear what people say in the group the sound level becomes a problem. Consider this by choosing a venue where you can spread smaller tables, allowing people to sit closer to each other. This will bring down the overall sound level since people will hear each other better and thus lower their voices.
- Stand up or take a short walk
If your workshop is no longer than 90 minutes, high tables may be something to consider. Standing up will promote blood circulation and send a signal to our bodies that we should be active and alert. Maybe your participants shouldn’t sit – or even stand still – at all? Why not use a conference app and send your participants on a workshop-walk? Or make it interactive with interactive dialoging as they get stimuli from visiting different workshop stations? One thing is for certain, having your participants sit still at a table in a boring surrounding is a well-proven way to kill creativity and great ideas.
- Spread the light
It is important to have a pleasant and comfortable overall light at the venue. Many conferences take place in dark settings with sophisticated illuminations at the stage. Unfortunately, this will just emphasize that the most important person in the room is the one who is talking on the stage and not the participants. The darkness in the room will also make us tired and inactive.
- Background music or not?
My experience with using background music at different workshops is 50/50. About half of the participants tend to enjoy it, while the other half are disturbed by it. My advice is that you include the possibility to play background music if there is a risk that your participants will get tired or that they need a boost of energy for some reason. But you should carefully consider this option. If you choose to include background music it should be instrumental and not very well-known. If you play music that many of the participants have associations to, they will most certainly get side-tracked instead of focusing on being creative in the workshop.
Best of luck!
Author: Tommy Brotte