How to Get the Best Out of People in Creative Workshops


So, you’re the facilitator of a creative workshop. It’s the beginning of the day, you’re standing in front of a group of people and your job is to get everybody to come up with lots of great ideas. So how do you do it? Here’s a few suggestions.

1 Create trust

People will only generate new ideas if they feel comfortable with the people around them and if they confident that their ideas are going to be listened to. You can do this by:

(a) ensuring everyone who comes has the opportunity to contribute. Don’t let a few people dominate proceedings and encourage everyone to join in.

(b) making sure ideas are not judged or criticised too early, so the session gets some momentum.

2 Cheerleading

As all sports teams know, we respond well to encouragement. Your job is to give people lots of positive feedback. If you hear a great idea, tell them. If people need help, suggest some ways forward. If you hear a brilliant idea, clap and cheer and encourage others to join in.

3 Push!

If you feel people aren’t quite on top of their game or giving their best, then don’t be afraid to push harder. If you think the ideas are so-so, sometimes it’s good to tell people. If you can see ways the  ideas could be improved then suggest them. Be careful as you don’t want to demotivate people, so do so in a positive spirit. However, it’s important to maximise the brainpower at your disposal.

4 Mess around

Idea generation should feel playful, so make there’s space and time to have a bit of a laugh. This could be via the creative exercises, playing games and encouraging light-hearted interventions. The more relaxed people feel, then the more ideas they’ll generate.

5 Celebrate the idea generators

If certain individuals have come up with a great idea, then make sure they – or their team – is publicly acknowledged. It may encourage others to raise their game too. Be aware of creating  jealousy, but a bit of healthy competition is no bad thing

6 Choose the right creative tools and techniques

People need help to generate new ideas – hence the use of creative tools and techniques. Firstly, make sure you include them in your session as they really do encourage people to think differently. Secondly choose the right ones. There’s so many to choose from, so make they’re tailored to suit the topic you’re working on. Thirdly, use a variety of techniques that attack the brief from different perspectives.

7 Signpost

People feel relaxed and confident in the session if they know where they’re heading. So, don’t forget to tell keep telling people why you’re asking them to do certain tasks, what they’ve just done and what the next stage will be.

And finally remember its not about you its about them. Even though you’re in charge of the session, suppress your ego. Don’t showboat or proclaim your brilliance. Your job is to be a great supporter, to get the very best out of others the workshop.


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