Monthly Archives: May 2014

What to Pack For a Workshop

I was with a gang of facilitators a couple of weeks ago comparing notes on how to manage workshops and we started to discuss what we pack for workshops and the hints and tips we’ve developed over the years. So…here they are.

1. The basics


For every workshop you will always need: coloured post-it notes, masking tape and fat pens. With this basic kit, you’ll always survive a workshop. This assumes that biros, flip chart paper and writing pads are available in the facility – which is almost always the case.

However please note:

– always use Post-It branded post-it notes. They’re expensive but much better than other brands which don’t always stick

– go for 2 sizes of post-it: the ‘standard’ and the ‘large’ and get a variety of colours (not just plain yellow)

– go for fat pens so wrIting is always legible. We used to have scented (smelly) pens at my old agency, but my favourite brand is Berol

–  avoid Sharpies. They’re great, but the ink is permanent. (at least the ones I’ve used) I’ve ruined so many shirts with these. Whatever you use, they’ve got to be water-soluble

–  Blu-tack is great as a back up and is still useful…but I’m now a big fan of masking tape: quick, easy to use and won’t mark walls

2. Added Extras


Hooters or horns are great if you’re running a big workshop as they’re brilliant for attracting attention, getting people to come back from coffee breaks. Plus they’re fun to play with.

Dots or heart stickers. Great for voting for ideas, highlighting specific outputs, etc.

Toys are great to add playfulness and fun to a session. The favourites are bendy men, play doh, lego and juggling balls. They can be used for energisers too.


I’ve recently started bringing A3 drawing pads to session where people are going to working in 2’s or 3’s, particularly in creative sessions. Having a drawing pad immediately puts you in a creative zone and they’re easy to carry and display your work

Pack a few ‘clouds’ too. Great for directing people to the workshop and acting as headers for different sections.

Not forgetting pritt-sticks and scissors for cutting up magazines and creating mood boardsImage

I also love those portable – stand up flipcharts. Great for working in small tables or where wall pace is limited

3. Preparing Your Kit

The biggest discovery for me in recent times has been the zip-lock plastic bag. Perfect for separating out your various bits and bobs and making the pre-workshop set up fast and efficient. Either separate out your various bits e.g. post-its, pens etc or combine them as ‘sets’ for each table group. Getting your room  set up as efficiently as you can and stopping your stationery spilling everywhere is essential


And finally, get yourself a nice wheelie bag to transport everything in. My favourite is the Eastpak TransverzS. Light, nice size, lots of compartments and expandable. Just perfect.

So, here’s my suggestions for what to pack for workshops. I’m always looking for new ideas, so if you’ve got any suggestions, please get in touch.


How to create a brand positioning – top tips


I’ve just recently completed a series of positioning workshops, so thought I’d share some of the tips I picked up along the way. So, in no particular order:

1. There’s a logical sequence

With a positioning template…Brand Key, Bullseye, Pyramid…whatever you like to call it, you need to complete it in a specific order. This is it. (a) agree a market definition and name the key competitors. (b) select your target audience and capture the key consumer insight. (c) move onto the benefits and reasons to believe. (d) pin down your values and personality. (e) finally, articulate your essence / differentiator.

The positioning should tell a story and if you complete it this way, then each element should build on or link to the previous one.

2. Everything is in pairs

As you’ve probably noticed each element of the positioning has a natural pairing. For example: at same time as defining your target audience, you articulate your insight. Work on your values and at the same time bring it to life via the personality. Identify the key brand benefits and then see how these are supported by reasons to believe

Working in pairs makes it easier to complete the different elements and forces you to think about how they connect together

3. Avoid blah, blah words

In a positioning, every word counts, so avoid generic language that could belong in any positioning document. These include words like ‘ high quality’, ‘great value’, ‘gives me confidence’. Most (all?) brands would claim this. I’m not saying these are not important, but you should express them using more ownable, distinctive language. The words need to sing from the page.

4. Use creative tools and techniques

Creating a brand positioning should not be a box filling exercise. Use creative techniques to help push your thinking further. For example, use visuals to help bring your brand to life, use projective techniques to help express your brand’s personality. Role play an ‘elevator pitch’ to explain your brand positioning to a senior manager

5. Make sure it’s distinctive and ownable

Your positioning needs to be strong and distinctive. It needs to stand out in a crowded world. If your brand looks and feels similar to something else, then push yourself to create something which is more differentiated. Ask yourself, could you replace the brand with another one? If so, then you need to work harder.

6. Whatever you say has to be credible

Behind every great brand there’s a great product / service. Don’t make stuff up and invent claims or benefits and focus entirely on brand imagery. What you say has to have substance and it must be backed up by some real product truths

Creating or re-positioning a brand is a really enjoyable and challenging exercise, but make sure you do it properly. Once you created something you’re proud of, bringing it to life for consumers becomes so much easier