What we’ve learnt from running IRL workshops (again)
At The Future Kind Collective, we are big fans of running workshops and we have been pretty excited over the past few weeks as we have planned and facilitated our first few IRL gatherings in over 18 months.
But, like everyone else, this long period of working from home meant that we were a bit out of practice and we’ve had to learn a thing or two about what it means to go from online to physical workshop facilitation. We’ve had to reflect with fresh eyes on what works, what doesn’t and what we’ll be doing differently next time.
As we all prepare to transition back into more face-to-face gatherings, whether it’s a meeting, workshop or team away day, we hope that our reflections below help you ease back into all of your real life events.
Be prepared to go tech-free
We’ve all been there, where the tech just doesn’t want to work. So, if your slide deck won’t load or that workshop soundtrack doesn’t play, make sure you know what you want to say and the tone you want to set when kicking off the session, regardless of slides and prompts. Be clear on the purpose of the event, know your agenda and be prepared to set the right energy and environment from the start without relying on technology to make it happen.
Energy levels are different
For many of us, our bodies and brains have adjusted to a new, slower way of working over the past 18 months. Now they’re having to adapt once again, but this time to being around people, rather than being away from them. Consider this as you plan your workshops; energy levels will differ from what they used to be, and fatigue may set in sooner, so it’s important that the workshop agenda and activities accommodate this.
Make the most of the power of the group
Being back in the room with people is a powerful thing; it enhances creativity, collaboration and connection. We recommend saving individual work for outside the gathering, either as part of pre- or post-workshop homework, so that you can really make the most of the time together. We like to provide participants with a workshop pack that enables them to do individual thinking and get in the right headspace ahead of the workshop.
Virtual and IRL time are not the same
Time flies when you’re having fun… and when you have a room full of people who haven’t seen each other in person for almost 2 years. Build in time for ad hoc conversations, debate and discussion, and be prepared to pivot and adapt your workshop activities to accommodate unplanned eventualities. Your participants will appreciate the time to reconnect, plus the ability to take their time.
Embrace opportunities to build deeper connections
Whether it’s a casual conversation, the ability to read someone’s body language or meeting a team member for the first time, being in the same room allows people to establish deeper connections. Don’t be solely focused on the activities and outputs of the workshop, think about how you want people to feel in the session and how you can create environments that encourage those connections.
As we transition into a more hybrid way of working we need to be intentional about how and why we meet, whether that be online or face-to-face. To ensure our gatherings are successful we need to be clear on why we are meeting, who needs to be there and how we can drive the most impact from our time together. With this in mind, we also explored how we can improve our online gatherings, which you can read more about in our article “5 tips for making meetings more meaningful”.
Here’s to creating more memorable experiences wherever we meet!
About the author
Alicia is one of two co-founders at The Future Kind Collective which exists to build a world that is kinder, fairer and more creative, where all people have the opportunity to do great things.
Alicia is a strategic designer with a passion for creating experiences and environments that enable insight, creativity and growth.
After starting her career in the art world, she went on to apply her creative thinking to the marketing, design and strategies of start-ups, scale-ups, government organisations and FTSE-100s internationally.
Throughout her career she has worked closely with business founders, supporting and guiding them in the successful launch of products, services and companies in international markets. She has led the development of government programmes that embed service design capabilities into organisations, helping them to grow their impact through better understanding their consumers and establishing customer-centric cultures.
About The Future Kind Collective
The Future Kind Collective is a purpose-driven consultancy which exists to build a world that is kinder, fairer and more creative, where all people have the opportunity to do great things.
We help start-ups and scale-ups to define their purpose, design their culture and grow their impact, while also embedding the skills they need to unlock their power.
We’re here to challenge the existing consultancy model and prove that by putting people and purpose first, you can create businesses that are more profitable, impactful and equitable.
To find out more or to chat over a challenge you’re grappling with, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’d love to hear from you!