The secrets about workshop facilitation that no one tells you

Have you ever felt like your requirements workshop is not going very well or feels a bit “run of the mill”? It is most likely because you haven’t explicitly been aware of the importance of these seemingly small but important aspects of human nature. Take these secrets to heart and you will be surprised at your workshop attendees’ positive responses next time you run a workshop.

SECRET 1: We all want to be loved

Building rapport even before the requirements workshop with each attendee will guarantee the workshop has the best chance for success! Before the requirement gathering workshop takes place, make sure you meet or at least phone each attendee! Have a chat to them about their understanding of what the session is all about; try to determine what is important to them; gauge how they feel about the content or simply about the fact that they are expected to attend. You can even call them to confirm they can make it and whether they have any questions prior to the session. By doing this first very basic step of engaging with each attendee individually you can build good rapport that will take you a long way to being received by an open, engaged audience.

SECRET 2: We all want to belong

An easy way to make someone feel like they belong is to recognize each individual in front of everyone else during the workshop facilitation session. We all love feeling special and especially so if we are recognized for something positive in front of a larger group. As part of your pre-workshop rapport-building you should now know what is important to each individual. Make sure that you use this knowledge during your session – the earlier in the session you can do it, the better. Try doing this by pointing out something good or constructive about each attendee’s input when they provide it. Encourage people to speak up, and ensure that you find something positive to say when someone does speak up.

STEP 3: We all want to learn

Stretch people by choosing an interactive format for the requirements workshop – it is important to require your attendees to actively participate in some way. Use posters, small group tasks, and have people report back to the group. Even just having participants get out of their seats to do something will help them feel engaged and like they are actively learning. If people feel that they are contributing actively, they will also feel like they got something in return for their time spent! This will have a great impact on how they feel about your requirements and it will build their confidence that all requirements were considered thoroughly.

SECRET 4: It is not about you

You may be the one standing up and leading the workshop, but guess what – it’s not about you. When you run the requirements gathering workshop remember that it is about your attendees and stakeholders. It is not about you, your nerves or what you can get out of it. It is all about the value you can deliver for the people attending the workshop. Focus on delivering as much value to the attendees by ensuring that you are well prepared, that the workshop is structured appropriately and fits within time constraints, that you use different tools to stimulate conversation, and that you keep on track with your objectives for the session. Take this approach next time you conduct a requirements workshop and your stakeholders will talk about how useful, valuable and successful it was. This will not only boost your own reputation but will greatly benefit the project you are working on.