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About the webinar

In this webinar, Dr Penny Pullan shares insights into how to deliver lasting results collaboratively through in-person, virtual and hybrid workshops.

  • As a program or project manager, do you need to be able to run really effective meetings and workshops as part of your role?
  • Would you like to feel confident working with challenging and diverse groups, and with senior leaders?
  • Do you want to deliver lasting results collaboratively, whatever the environment?

Most program and project managers have no training in facilitation skills and yet they need these skills more than ever in these days of virtual and hybrid working.

This event will cover the process of designing and delivering engaging, well-run and effective sessions, starting with an initial idea and through careful, step-by-step preparation to running them successfully, despite the inevitable challenges.

We’ll touch on design for virtual, hybrid and in-person workshops and explore how to make it likely that actions will happen as a result. The webinar will also draw on aspects of neuroscience, social psychology and facilitation theory to explain where all of this comes from.

You’ll leave with ideas and tips that you can apply immediately to improve your program or project workshops and meetings, an understanding of why they work and, we hope, a curiosity to find out more and become even better at workshops.

About our presenter

Dr Penny Pullan is recognized for creative collaboration for project professionals, plus Virtual/Hybrid Leadership. She’s the author of Making Workshops Work: Creative collaboration for our time’ (PIP, 2021) and the bestseller Virtual Leadership , a CEO Today Top 5 book for lockdown (Kogan Page, 2016).

She is also co-author of Managing Successful Programmes , 5th Edition (Axelos, 2020), the guidebook on program management.

Penny works with leaders and teams who are grappling with the challenges of our virtual and hybrid world, to enhance collaboration and effectiveness across dispersed and hybrid teams.

Over the last twenty years, Penny has built and rolled out her Virtual Leadership model, facilitation tools and techniques globally, working with organizations such as Robert Half, Astra Zeneca and the UK Government.

Program and project managers find that clarity, creativity, connection, collaboration and confidence grow when they apply Penny’s methods.



I know some of you might know Penny from previous books that she’s written because I’ve talked about her quite a lot of the virtual leadership book, which is down here on the floor, or not on the floor on the bottom shelf of the bookcase. I don’t leave books on the floor. But today we’re going to be learning more about this one facilitation skills collaboration and making workshops work. So Penny is a recognized creative collaboration expert specifically for project professionals. She’s got a business background as in business analysis, and project and program management and virtual and hybrid leadership as well. And she’s the author of that book about making workshops work, and the virtual leadership book.

And also, the co author of the latest managing successful programs guidance from AXELOS, The Stationery Group which puts together the family of PRINCE2-type standards. So in Penny’s business, now, she works with leaders and teams who are grappling with the challenges of all the virtual and hybrid things that we have to do in the world of work. And she tries to enhance collaboration and effectiveness with her skills and knowledge around how to work well in dispersed and hybrid teams. So I’m very happy that she’s able to come and share some insights with us today.

I think that’s probably all I need to say, isn’t it? I’m just, it’s just lovely to catch up with you. And I can’t wait to hear more about what you’ve been working on. And all the insights that you can share about making workshops work.


Thank you so much, Elizabeth, it’s lovely. lovely to be here. I’m going to be doing something a little bit different, which is I’m going to be sharing my slides but through this window rather than doing a sort of Zoom screenshare. So I will be in front of my slides or behind my book like I am at the moment.

So I’d like to say hello, everybody. It’s lovely to be here. Why me? You might think why on earth? Do you have this strange person called Penny? Who keeps popping up on Elizabeth’s things every every now and then with with another another book? As you can see, there’s a whole load of them. But yeah, I’ve been working on projects, and specifically tricky projects for around about 25 years.

Actually, I think it would help to get me out of the way, wouldn’t it? So I’m going to do some technical wizardry and just remove me for a moment. How’s that? Yeah. So let’s just run through 25 years. And when I say tricky projects, this is what I mean. So it’s projects that are risky. Yep.

This book, Virtual Leadership, virtual is one of the aspects of projects. I’ve been working virtually, at least in part ever since.

Yeah, ever since I was due to run my first ever program. It was in 2001.

There’s a global kickoff meeting happening in New York. Very, very exciting. I’ve never run a program and I’ve never had a kickoff meeting in New York. The date on my ticket was the 13th of September 2001. So if you want to put something in the chat, in YouTube, or on zoom, if you’re on zoom, just as to what the problem might have been. Then we can have a quick, quick peek at that.

Yes, because 911 happened. So for me, I wasn’t able to travel to I wasn’t able to travel, we were all grounded. It felt a little bit like lockdowns, although obviously it was tragic. And it was something that happened in a split second, it didn’t change the world in quite the way that the pandemic has. But we were grounded, we couldn’t fly for three months, I had to do that program kickoff of my very first big global program, I had to do it virtually, we didn’t have two weeks together, we had to do lots of one hour sessions over much longer than that, to get going. Yep, a Scott, it 911 happened. Super. So that’s a little bit about me. In terms of project, I see the way to do projects for worked really effectively is facilitation, being somebody who makes it easy for everyone in your project or program to do the best work that they can. And that works incredibly well with virtual leadership and with many other aspects of tricky projects, and facilitation of workshops is part of that. And I’ll be going through that today, I thought it might be helpful to go through.

This is what I call my magic six, I’ll just write that on there, which is six magic magic statements, if you like that will help you make any session clear. It’s incredibly important to have this for virtual sessions and hybrid sessions. It works really well for in person as well. So let’s have a quick look at this. So what’s the first thing we need to do? We need to say we are here to and let’s use this session as an example of it’s not so much a workshop, but you know, it’ll it will be helpful. What are we here to do, we’re here to learn how to make our workshops work. And perhaps we could add in Project workshops. At this point, we are here to learn how to make our project workshops work. So the next of the magic six number two is today we will and the idea is to have four to five objectives. So these are the things we’re going to cover.

We’re going to start off number one with a bit of an intro. And I’m going to spend a little bit of time talking about hybrid. So somebody brought that up earlier, I think it was Ace brought that up. And we’re going to look at just a little bit about hybrid because a lot of people can see that coming up in their near future, we’re going to look at planning, I would actually even say designing your sessions, because that’s key to success, as project managers all around the world will know that planning and and design is is absolutely key. We’ll then look at running your sessions and some things about what happens when your workshops go horribly, horribly wrong in the moment. And then we’ll look at getting actions done, which is really important. Most project managers are probably pretty good at that. And the rest of the world isn’t necessarily because meetings often happen. It’s Is it a groundhog day of the same meetings happen over and over again, and people aren’t doing actions. And at the end, we’re going to have some q&a.

So let’s look at the third of the magic six, which is our plan, which is what’s the time plan.

So we started around about, oh, I’ve got that completely wrong. Always enthusiastic 7pm not six, the good thing about writing is that you can change it as you go. We will have q&a at around about 740. And we should be back to Elizabeth for rounding out at around about five to five to eight to finish on the hour. For the fifth of the fourth for the magic six, who’s doing what Yeah, I’m here to speak. Elizabeth is going to time keep so she’s going to let me know when it’s quarter past when it’s half past when it’s coming up to q&a time. And please do participate. I know it’s difficult when you’re off on YouTube, or you’re in zoom. But we do have chat. We have live chat on YouTube. And we have we have chat on zoom as well. And in fact, that’s part of how we work together. Now for workshops. This is absolutely critical. Most people don’t do this. But if you upfront, anticipate any problems and talk about how you’ll handle those, then actually it means that if they happen, it’s much smoother.

So we’re not anticipating problems, but we’re thinking this time about how we’re going to interact. So please do chat as we go. If you’ve got questions, you could put a queue at the front. That can be helpful for the lady who’s collating all the questions. But I will be picking up that chat. I’ve got it visible on YouTube zoom. I have to just pop back in. But I can see those as you go along.

The final of the magic six is what Next. So who’s going to do what by when your actions and perhaps explain at this early stage, who is going to do the follow up as project managers, you may well do that yourself. But perhaps other people might be involved. So I will get these slides with the annotations to Elizabeth. And I’ll do that tonight. And then we would catch actions. If this is a workshop producing actions, we’d capture them as we went through. So any queries or comments on the magic six, pop those into the chat.

So there we are, that is how to make things really clear at the beginning of a workshop. The next thing is just to run through these three aspects in person virtual and hybrid. Really important, obviously, in person we’re quite used to, it’s what we used to do most of the time, most of us, which is just being with other people in the same room, I used to say face to face, but people are using that term to mean video calls as well.

So I use in person, virtual is when people are separated from each other. And hybrid is when you have a mixture of the two. Like this picture here you have two groups around it around two computers, group one and group two. group one together or in person to each other. But overall, this is a hybrid meeting, pickers there they are virtual group one and group two are virtual.

I see questions come in from Paula who’s saying do share what’s the tool you’re using to whiteboard as you speak, this is not zoom. This is built into PowerPoint, if you go down to the bottom left hand side of PowerPoint, you have a pen option, and you can draw live and you can save them. When you finished your presentation. To be able to draw quite so neatly, you may say that it’s not particularly neat, I’m actually using a simple graphics tablet, you can use a mouse is not quite as accurate, though. The graphics tablets, it’s not like iPad or anything like that there are about 5060 pounds or dollars. And it just means that you can write a little bit more neatly than you could if you were using our trackpad, just to give you an example, if I just right, right with my graphics tablet, but if I just use my trackpad, so anyone and I’m having to concentrate like crazy doing this, oh, boy, it’s going all over the place. But you can still do it, you don’t need any special kit, you can just use PowerPoint itself. Right?

So hybrid workshops, here are some here’s a picture, I’ve got lots of pictures from the book that I’m using in this presentation. So I hope that will be helpful for you. The different types of hybrid. So a here is where you have one main room.

And this is a big table with people sitting around it, there might be a bit more spaced out in these COVID times. And then you have other people joining virtually somebody on our phone, somebody on a tablet, somebody on our computer. So that’s type A, B over here is where you have the situation that we showed in the previous slide. So where you have several rooms, so you might have room one room turn room three, each of those have people together in person, but they are connected virtually.

But of course things are never that simple. There’s another one, which is C which is a plus b, which is when you have people dialing in remotely, as well as as having the different rooms dialing together. So I’m wondering if you would, could you let me know, are you a or b? Or c? Are those hybrid workshops? If you do hybrid workshops, if you’re involved in hybrid in any way, which of those are you using yourself? Do let me know that would be really helpful. Because then I can comment on it a little bit more. I’m going to just come out of this just for a moment. Just so I can catch up with what’s happening in zoom and see if there are comments that are come through in zoom. Yep.

Let’s have a look.

Lots of lots of comments coming through. Yes, Sarah likes a PowerPoint tip. Yeah, a quite a few people have got a combination of a and b. Yeah, Rebecca says it depends on the project and the task. Ros says A and B says a. So the architect and the client at a construction site engineers login by teams, Emma’s having a and b. Yep. So lots of different things. But hybrid, lots of people doing hybrid. It’s good. Good to hear that. Ah, yep. And Amy’s just said that her name is me not a. So I’ll try and remember that. Yeah, Heather’s saying her hybrids are see. So quite a lot, quite a lot of different, different things going on. Thank you very much for your input.

All right, let’s nip back to the slides.

Right. So, yeah, lots of lots of C’s going on. Okay. Oh, we have an outlier. Rachel is saying mostly in person. Which is interesting. Others are saying, Yeah, Denise is saying a, Donna is saying B and C. So a real mix, and hybrid, those of you who are doing it will, he’ll know that actually, it’s rather more complicated than either everyone being in person or everyone being virtual. And there’s one big problem with hybrid. And this is going to be the only reference to football in the whole session. So here we are the problem. If you don’t do anything, hybrid doesn’t give you a level playing field.

So it’s like this football pitch. And instead of being a nice flat football pitch, it’s tilted. In fact, I’m going to tilt it that way. So it looks the same as relying on the slide. It’s tilted. And what does that mean? It means that the people who are in person have a massive advantage over people who are remote or virtual. Why? Because they can pick up the nuances and dynamics of conversation much more than somebody who’s virtual, they can glance across the room, see what’s happening, you know, they can pick up on things they can get the feel, and the atmosphere that people who are virtual just won’t get, they have this level of sound for quality of sound is so much better if you’re in a room than if you’re virtual with one of those horrible star microphone things in the middle of a board table miles away from anyone.

So if you’re going to make hybrid work, and you may well have found this yourself, I’m just going to change the pen color over to red. Because it’s so important. And I want to highlight this, to make hybrid work, you need to bring this playing field you need to make it level, change it back too much red is not a good thing. So let’s go back to blue.

So you want to try and make it level? And how can you do that? Well, there are a few ways that you can make things level. There’s one thing which is can you buddy up buddy up each hybrid, each virtual person with somebody in the room so they have somebody who can be keep looking after them and keeping them up to date with what’s happening in the room, that they can ask questions who they didn’t hear something. And other thing that really, really helps is to have everyone use the remote tech. So if you’re using zoom like we are today, you can have everybody logging in via zoom, even the people in the room. That could be zoom, that could be teams, but just us everyone uses the tech.

Oh, actually, I need to get rid of myself don’t take because I’m just I’ve realized that I’m I’m in the way. So let me hopefully that’s better, better for you. Right. And then the final thing is you can do this with name cards. Or you can do it with something fun, like cartoon cutouts are life size cardboard cutouts of the people who aren’t there have some physical reminder of the people who are remote. So that it’s otherwise it’s very easy just to forget about them and to go off into into your own little meeting for the people who are in the room.

Right. So I’ve talked a little bit about some of these challenges. What about you please do put your own challenges into YouTube or into zoom now? pictures I have lots of slides, but I’ve got masses of flexibility and I really like having the having the chance to to flex what I say and to read Make it make sense for you. I have lots of things, I can change things. Please do put your own challenges into into the YouTube chat or into zoom. And I will use those as we go through the rest of the session. Just going to have a have a look in the zoom chat and see what’s there at the moment.

Yeah, Elizabeth liking the empty chair, you can use an empty chair. remember their names as well, they sent packs put a put a little sticker or post it note with the person’s name on a on a on the chair? Yes, we’ve got Caroline saying that the challenge is that people who are doing virtual get distracted with emails? Or notifications? Absolutely. That can happen even when people are even when people are all in the room as well. Which is not great. But does happen. So really, Caroline, we need to make things as engaging and and as interactive as possible. Sarah is asking if everybody is senior in hierarchy to you as a facilitator in a very hierarchical organization? Absolutely. That can be a challenge. I will show you a way around that. Sarah, Elizabeth, how do you get people to commit to using the magic six, you have to convince them that it’s useful if you just go in and use it, and use it to draw in their opinions and their their perspectives and make sure that they are heard, then that tends to work quite well. Right.

Oh, yeah. Amy’s got something. She’s been using Miro. Yeah, Mural as well. And there are various other things as well that are helpful. Yep, standing back and seeing the whole picture is difficult. Absolutely. Right. So now we’re going to dive into this planning your session, or perhaps what we should say, is design. Or perhaps design and plan is fine. It’s all about and this is probably the key part to your sessions, your workshops, your meetings, if you can design them and plan them. And we know as project and program managers, you’re going to be experts in planning and thinking about things up front, that will really, really help you. But what on earth do you need to design and think about?

Well, we talked about the first step in the magic six, we are here to What’s your purpose? what’s what’s the point of your workshop? get this sorted up completely at the very first stage, it drives everything else. What is the point? And the point is not that it’s 2pm on a Thursday? It needs to be something like you know, what are you here to do? If there is no point don’t have a meeting, don’t have a workshop. If the point is convoluted, clarify this purpose before you carry on any further. Because the purpose helps you work out who should be in your workshop or meeting.

And there’ll be people who should be in – it might be hard to get them but they should be in and then there are other people who should not be there might want to be but depending on the purpose, the point of your session, that will really help you divide out the people who should be there and the people who should not be there. And it might be that people should be in just for a bit. And they can just come into your meeting for a little bit. And then they can leave. And if you’ve got your purpose clear, then it makes it much easier to convince people to come.

And also if you can tell them they just need to be there for a little bit that can help. So yeah, of course, I was going to talk about their magic six. Again, this really does help. I designed it in 2007. Normally, I change things that drop things within a month. But actually, this has really worked very well ever since. For me and for others. And for people who are quite skeptical. If you’d like I can send you a card with this on. You can sign up for that through my website making projects work. In fact, it’s down there if you’re interested. Right.

So there we are.

That is them. Six. And it’s really helpful for designing. Right? Something that nobody’s mentioned so far actually is conflict.

This normally comes up as a key thing. So perhaps you’re really, really good at dealing with conflict in your workshops. Oh, perhaps that was a little bit at what Sarah was hinting at, you know, the fear of getting into conflict with very senior people in a very culturally hierarchical organization. Anyway, I’m going to tell your story. So please do sit back, and relax.

You may have heard this story before. It’s a story of six blind men and the elephant. None of the blind man, men knew what an elephant was like. But they just happened to be together, and there was an elephant. So they went up in turn to the elephant, to find out what it was like, the first one, walked up to the side of the elephant, and pushed against the elephant and it was really quite solid. So he said, an elephant is like a wall. The second blind man was a bit shorter, walked out to the elephant, and found that it was like a tree trunk. And he said, Oh, an elephant is like a tree trunk. Next blind man walks up to an elephant. And found it was like a rope dangling from the sky.

The fourth blind man walked up to the elephant, and found that it was just like a big fan, you know, the sort of fan that people wave wave to move the air. The next blind man walked up to the elephant, he got a nasty shock, because he found that an elephant was like a spear. So he ran away very quickly. And the six blind man also got a nasty shock, because he found that an elephant was like a snake. Now in the story, these six blind men argue for the rest of eternity. On our projects, say, we don’t have the rest of eternity, do we? We don’t, we have people with very different perspectives, just like the blind men and the elephant. And they might think you know that you just need the budget of an elephant;s toenail for your project. But they don’t see the whole picture.

And part of our role as facilitators, as project managers, is to make sure that we get everyone to listen to each other, and that we get the full picture of what’s needed for our project. And that’s what I see conflict is like, is different perspectives. And once we see it as mainly that perspectives about the process, how we’re going to do things, and pros and conflict about the content, how we’re going to what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it, obviously, there’s some conflict, that’s relationship, that actually you probably can’t sort out in a project workshop context.

Yeah. So let’s keep going all of the lots of brilliant things. How do you make things really clear?

Amy asked about using Miro, you can do that. But you can just use some of these visual ways. I’m quite visual, you will have noticed. Yeah, you can draw models. But you can cluster ideas. This is something that a collaborative tool like Morrow, or mural, or jam board, or various other ones, you can have ideas, and you can pull them into clusters. And then Label Label them with an overarching idea. So that’s a way of doing visuals without having to draw, you can use mind maps. That’s how I drew it drew the book out.

You might sketch note, you know, draw some pictures and show how it relates together. I mean, if you have anyone who who likes drawing, use free drawing has a vision picture for a project, this can work really well and it can engage those people. Oh, yes, we have mass light happening here. Let’s get rid of a little bit of that, right. This is really helpful if you’ve got people who need to engage, you know, those people, staff who just want to look at their phones all the time, or virtual people who want to get emails, notifications, just if you can draw live really helps if you have a moment a bit later on. We could have a go. Perhaps if not asked me. And if you have someone who’s actually a professional graphic recorder, it can make all the difference but probably won’t won’t have that. Think too about where people are in the change.

As project managers we deal with change. We all know about change curve. Now not everybody will follow a curve like this, but it’s likely that performance will dip as people go through change. And it’s likely that people might go through a different feelings, you know, starting off, it’s fine, I’m fed up, I’m depressed, perhaps I can work with it, it’s happened and I can work with it. Think about where people are on a change curve, if there might be there might not be where about to you’re going through change, think about that and how it affects them. Another useful one, when you’re in workshops, going through change is to think about apply that bridges transition model, if you haven’t come across it very useful one, which shows that there are, there are three stages that you go through in any change endings, neutral zone, and then beginnings.

And what I found is in some workshops, you can have very senior people who are driving the change who’ve had their ending already. while ago, they processed everything, they’ve gone through the neutral zone. And they are outside in the new beginnings, looking to the future, raring to go. And you may have some people who are new into this, some staff members, for example, who may be only just find out about it, who are still very much in this ending stage.

So if you’re interested, if you got, you know, your senior people at a very different place for more junior people, the people driving it in a different place, think about that, as well, it can make a big difference as to how people are in your workshops. Okay, perhaps is a good idea. Now we’re about halfway through just to have a bit of a stretch, plan those in planning breaks, stretches, you know, if you want to stretch out, oh, look, my arm disappears. When I when I stretch out figures, I’m in a little square on the side here. But do stand up, move around. If you want to plan in breaks.

I can see Elizabeth moving. Yay. Thank you for modeling that. If I stand up, all you’ll see is my middle fingers. Actually, I’m in a square and I sort of disappear. Yeah, there we go. Right. Now the thing to think about planning is your process, what are what’s a step by step process that you’re going to go through the different activities. I’ve got a picture here from the book, which is actually for a workshop that was a training workshop. But you can use this on your project and program workshops as well.

I draw a big arrow shows the start this one was from nine till four, I marked in lunch, you can see here and breaks as a break, which is hidden behind all the post it notes as well I put in trying to prepare this as an in person workshop. And just put out the different tools that I needed underneath down here. And then I’ve got various little little little bits of post it notes and things to mark the different activities that I’m running. And overall, I’ve got the girl The purpose of the whole whole day in the center of goal of this arrow at the end. And I can have this on one piece of paper, a four or a three. And it’s really helpful to be able to see it all in one go and to be able to tick things off as I do them. And I can see it happening.

Remember, if you’ve got questions or comments to go through, do pop them into the YouTube or the zoom. activities, what sort of things are activities made up of? Anything from getting started activities like introductions and so on, I’d say don’t do icebreakers and energizers. rather make all your activities really energizing. And, and to perform that function. You might need to share, you might need to generate ideas. Perhaps you need to do some analysis, problem solving, reaching agreement and making decisions and ending something really helpful ending. Think about what went well. That’s not ‘worldwideweb’. It’s ‘what went well’.

And think about I wish that so you do a little tiny review at the end of every workshop. And if you apply those things, keep doing the things that went well. And tweak the things that you wish that then your workshops will get better. As you go through, they’ll get better and better and better. And they can’t. Yeah, I can’t not do that. So I think about a session that you’re running soon and think about how you might do that.

Yeah, a few. We’ll be looking at a few things for running your session. And I think when you’re running your session, one of the most important things is this.

One, did you know what this is? And I need to move out of the way a little bit. This is all about listening. Let me draw that up. This is a Chinese character for listening. And it shows that you listen with your ears. But also your eyes, your mind, your undivided attention, and your heart? Is this a sort of listening that you do? When you’re running sessions? It’s really important that you really listen wholeheartedly, to what people are saying and to what’s happening in your session. Do you find workshops stressful? Let me get rid of me just for a moment. So you can see this, in its pure, pure form. These are the things that a whole load of business analysts said made them stressed in workshops.

As you can see, people is the biggest one, listening, or perhaps other people not listening, conflict, hidden agendas, all sorts of challenges. And I made sure I covered all of those in the book, but we can’t cover them all today, we just haven’t got the time. So let’s Yeah, yep, I’m going to just put me back. Right, and let’s move on conflict we talked about. And we talked about the fact there are different types of conflict, there’s conflict about the task, conflict, but the process, both of these really help by getting people to listen and understand each other’s perspectives and getting the whole picture.

Relationship conflict is a little bit different. If you have two people in your project team who just hate each other, you’re unlikely to fix that by talking. In fact, you might need to move them into different parts of the project, or perhaps requests that they work on different projects, if you can’t fix if you’ve got a long standing issue that you just can’t fix with stress.

And Elizabeth, I’m going to suggest we carry on a little bit because I have answered some of the questions as we went along. Rather than having a really long extended q&a. What I find a lot of projects, and what a lot of project managers have is that they have a spotlight, focusing down on them, and they think I’ve got to be perfect when I’m running a session. I want to if that’s ever happened to you. Because if you have the spotlight on you, then especially in Sara’s position, when you have a very hierarchical organization, with lots of senior people, you’re going to feel massively under pressure. And you’re likely to feel stressed, fight, flight, freeze, all of that stuff can happen, your brain slows down the thinking part of your brain, and you’re less able to, to think and deal with all the situations that arise. So don’t just move that spotlight, have it shining on the group of it shining on the group.

So that actually, if you make a mistake like me carrying on writing underneath me, you all knew, but actually when I noticed that I didn’t go, Oh, it’s a disaster. I just thought, well, that’s they’re seeing, seeing it as it is, how it comes out when you’re running three different programs at once to try and have a good experience. So remember, remember, you’re serving the group. And if there are any problems, you can ask them. What would you like to do now? What ideas do you have, as well? We need to keep people engaged.

I hope you found the things that have been useful. The visuals, the stories, that’s what narrative form is. And it’s powerful. I’m sure you can remember the data, my ticket and actually being able to see faces, you can see my face but not everybody else’s in this session because of the technology that we’re using. Think about energy levels. What is a brain focus? What are people’s bodies doing?

If people are looking at their phones, as Steph says they do, then perhaps the energy is too low. Perhaps you’re not you’re being a bit boring. Get them to move. Get people curious. These things will change the energy level and lots of other things you can do as well. When things go wrong Oh, perhaps we should have a bit of a q&a about mishap send me your mishap or your complication, what happened, and see what suggestions I might have and what suggestions other people have got. So I’m gonna leave that for q&a.

The final section is getting actions done. And actually, I think, as project managers, you know this already with most groups, I would go through how you need to capture, you know, action number who’s going to do it, Penny Pullan is going to send the slides, annotated slides to Elizabeth, by the end of today. And leave space for Elizabeth to mark the status in the future. also need to make sure you know how things will be followed up. So really, this is where we probably need to go go to questions. Hopefully, that’s not too far off. Elizabeth.


I know we are good with time. Don’t worry about that. And that’s been really interesting. Thank you very much. A couple of things that I took from that. The notes that I’ve made down, the two things that jumped out at me are forgetting about the icebreakers because when I plan a workshop, I’m always thinking, Oh, well, we’ll spend the first 10 minutes doing some kind of, What did you have for breakfast exercise. And I can see now that actually, it’s just much better to dive straight in, but make the whole thing better, and start with something like the magic six, and then move into making sure that the activities and the conversation supplies that level of energy instead of having to fake it.

Because I worked with, in my last job I worked with, a lot of it’s gonna be, I don’t want to stereotype a whole profession, but their financial team, we’re not into doing all of that kind of, let’s play with Play Doh, and make models and copy make a Lego model over here and all that jazz. Thank you. And they were lovely people. And we did things in other ways. But all of the standard icebreakers that I was bringing out for other groups just didn’t work with them, and they will fell flat. So I think that that’s, you know, just having permission to not have to do those is great. And the other thing that jumped out at me was remember that you’re serving the group? That actually it’s not about you and your agenda. It’s all about why are we here? What’s the purpose? And that takes the pressure off the facilitator.


Yeah. And especially the how we work together, because if you’ve done that with a group, and you’ve anticipated some of the problems, so what happens if we get to a point and we find something really interesting? Would you like? Would you like me to suggest that? You know, should we discuss scheduling another meeting and actually diving into that? Or should? You know, are we going to discuss that? Or should I just keep to time? Do we need to get to the end? If you’ve had that discussion already? What happens if you know if? How do you want to be as a group, one conversation at a time.

And then if somebody very senior breaks that you don’t have to say, or you’re naughty person, you’re not following my rules. You can just have a mirror and say, as a group, you agreed that you wanted to have one conversation at a time, I’m noticing that there are a couple of conversations happening in parallel. What do you want to do about that? It’s quite, it’s it takes so much pressure off. That was what that spotlight, moving that away and having that how we work together, agreed. That was what moved me from being able to facilitate fairly small projects, to running global programs and running things.

I mean, I was running those one program that I ran that was with government ministers of several countries. I was just a project manager. But it worked. Because I wasn’t using my own authority and saying, oh, I was just reflecting back and saying you agreed you wanted to work like that. I’m not seeing that at the moment.

And where do we go from here? And they could change the rules. Anyway, or Oh, yeah, yeah, I agree. We did say that. Let’s go back to how it worked.

And mostly they’d say, thank you so much for actually keeping us to what we’d agree because most people just won’t challenge.


Okay, that’s a useful tip. And Carolyn’s asked a couple of things. I don’t know whether you talked about how people Yes, you did talk about people getting distracted with emails, just make the meeting more interesting.


Just make it more interesting and engaging. You know, that’s the only thing you can do. You can’t walk up to them in their virtual and say, Oh, yeah, I can see that you’re looking at your emails. And the other thing you can do is with virtual Sessions is you can say up front in the how we work together, you can say, we’re going to do, we’re going to pull the group every 20 minutes, which means we’re going to go around and ask you in random order, and it To call out your name and just ask you for your reaction and your input. And if you knows that in roughly every 15 to 20 minutes, somebody could call your name, you could be first and you’ll be asked to just very quickly respond, you’re less likely to get bogged down in your email.

It works really well. And I think it also depends on the kind of people that you’ve got in the meeting in terms of are they actually needed to be there, because you said earlier, don’t have people into the whole meeting, if you don’t need them, just bring them in. So I find people get distracted in my meetings when I’ve invited them to sit through a whole hour. And actually there you need to talk for one agenda point. And it would have been better, especially it’s so much easier now with virtual meetings, I can just ping them, dial them in at the right time. And then they drop off again, it’s much less than disruptive. And there’s another question, what’s a good method to have your stakeholders focused on the purpose of the workshop instead of focusing on the other 500 fires they’re trying to put out?

Yeah, probably having really effective meetings that are really focused and are really short, and making sure that everyone knows, you know, if I have a process here that can get this done in 45 minutes, if I have your entire attention, and then that will be that. But of course, if we can have half, half concentration, and we can carry on for an hour and a half. What would you like to do? Your I love that. You say that and it just completely transforms everything. But can you see the spotlight is on them? It’s not saying Actually, I’m going to run this, I’m going to run it I’m going to run it with a rod of steel and and nobody’s going to mess around it saying, you know, it’s, this is for you.


Okay, a question that came in on YouTube from Rachel, how do you deal with a consistent saboteur?


That’s interesting. How do you define a saboteur? How do you know they’re a saboteur?


I think for me, it would be somebody who sits there and is a huffing is constantly trying to undermine your authority, trying to say No, that won’t work, that solution won’t work. So maybe it’s something to do with a very negative attitude to the topics that are being discussed. Maybe that’s a change stuff. So are they really needed? Do you ask them to leave halfway through the meeting?


Well, you need to think upfront, you know, you need to know upfront, you know, there’s a, if there’s a consistent saboteur, at least they’re consistent. So you know, they’re going to be a saboteur. And you plan for it, you design the meeting to constrain their sub bitterness. Okay, you maybe bring them in for a short time where they’re needed. Yeah, there are all sorts of things you can do. Yeah, but if you know, they’re a saboteur, and you know, they’re going to be like that planet up front designers out. Again, if you have a separator, remember, have all those, I was going to call them ground rules. Don’t ever call them ground rules with your group, because they will revolt. People don’t make rules. But if you say, you know how we’re going to work together, what happens if this, this and this, talk about it, and then when that saboteur does their saboteur thing that you’ve already talked about, and identified what you’ll do, and just reflect back, I’ve noticed.


So you don’t recommend having a conversation at the beginning about ground rules. Let’s co-create a list of ground rules.


Yes, co create is good. Don’t call them ground rules, call them and how we’re going to work together. Let’s talk about how we want to work together in this going to be the most effective way for you to work to get what you need out of this. Now, you know, you’re saying that it feels like I used to do boundaries all the time. Well, they are ground rules. But yeah, just say don’t call them that. Because, you know, you know, Elizabeth, you’ve got to you know, these rules. You have to obey these rules, you know, people like me Just think, oh, rules. Oh, I can. Let’s try breaking one and see what happens.

So your norms for your team would be how you work together. So you’re meeting norms. These are for us particular meeting so they can change a bit. I think norms, I would think are more longer, maybe team norms or if you’ve got a series of meetings? Yes. I think it’s good to say how we’re going to work to how we’re going to apply our norms to this Meeting now, maybe even a little bit more specific.


We’ve got a few minutes left. So if anybody here with us in zoom wants to come off mute and put their challenge, depending we can put her in the hot seat and see if there’s something that you need some guidance with, or if you’re thinking about being brave enough to do that, which you absolutely don’t have to if you don’t want serious got another question, how much info about the workshop do you typically send out in advance?


That’s good. In the book, I have a whole thing. Ah, okay. And at the end of time, I can’t remember where things are in the book, which says the last stage of preparation, joining information and what’s in it, or long list the rationale, the purpose and the objectives as far as they exist, why that person is invited. The role that they will play, the person who’s going to run the meeting and their contact details. Let them know what you’d like them to do, or to be ready to talk about or do on the day. Things to bring with them pre thinking and preparation, the plan for the day, the start times have breaks in the finishing time, I wouldn’t go down as far as individual activities, if you’re in person, how to find the venue and transport options. Obviously dietary requirements and things like that if you’re in person, what to wear useful. If you’re in person, perhaps from here up if you should, probably doesn’t matter any full information on virtual technology, contact details for someone who can help if people have any issues, specially important virtual and hybrid hints on your virtual meeting etiquette. So that how we’ll work together, that you’re clarifying the session, it’s good to have ideas shared up front, you know, not as fixed rules, but perhaps as options, details of how to check system settings for any virtual technology, and they need to get trained up in it or they’re not used to it. So fairly comprehensive. Hopefully, that’s there’s an awful lot in here. I said a brain dumped, but in a structured, organized, hopefully accessible way.


Thank you, Penny, that’s brilliant. Thank you for the question. It was Yeah, there’s a lot there. I think I used to be really worried that people wouldn’t understand the technology. But I’ve, I’ve moved on from that now, because the last year has forced us all to get better. So now I feel like I navigate between zoom and teams. And I was in goto meeting the other day. This is like what I used to use 10 years ago, we’re still using GoToMeeting. But it was Yeah. You know, there’s a lot of tools that that we have out there that people are using. And actually it worked fine. It was actually very robust and stable.


Yeah, it’s good to have several as backups. Yep, yep. Just going to put up some contact details. If anybody I need to get out of the way of my email, this really. Yep. So hopefully, if you want to get in touch now do connect with with on LinkedIn if you’d like to. And on my website, which you can see up there, if you sign up, I think there are a couple of stages, I will actually post your little card with the magic six on if you would like that, and some hints as to how to use it. And the other thing that I must say, Actually, my publishers are doing this crazy thing. I don’t know if they’ve done this with your books, Elizabeth, but they’re doing a 99 p 99. cents version of the book is normally 1999 or in dollars 2499. But on Kindle on the 12th of July. They are they’re doing this thing to try and spread it far and wide. And I think well actually, I might as well join in and get excited about it because I want lots of people to have access to this. And it’s on the 12th of July all day.


I’m glad you said that because it’s on my calendar for the 13th of July.


The launch is the 13th but the 12th is the Kindle day the day before the actual paperback launch. Right. Okay, so I need to move that so that I can get my 99 p Kindle version. Good.


Okay, I was I would have been disappointed. Oh, but I would have just paid for press no problem.


I mean, it does seem a bit gimmicky doesn’t it? But But I’m just happy to to get out there. The thing I find with all these years of, of working with project managers, program managers and business analysts is that hardly anyone actually has any training in facilitation skills. And there are so many things like the things we’ve covered today. I mean, there’s loads more I could speak for hours, which I probably shouldn’t, there’s loads more, that would be so helpful. And they don’t have it. So and I couldn’t find that they’re certainly not with the virtual and hybrid as well, which is why this book took a long time to write it was four years, four and a half years from proposal to delivery. But it’s big as it was, it was sort of heart and soul stuff, really? Yeah, right.


Well, that’s brilliant. Thank you very much. And as we our project managers, we tend to start on time and finish on time. And so I know as it’s coming up to eight o’clock here in the UK, that we should be bringing things to a close. So I would just wanted to thank you really thank everyone who is here today and who’s joined us to watch live, and to thank penny for giving up her time to come and share those tips and suggestions with us about how we can do better meetings and better workshops. Because I think we talked predominantly about sort of the workshop setting so much of that I can apply to my normal in inverted commas meetings. Oh, yeah, that’s really been really helpful. Yeah, thank you very much. And so people can connect with Penny on LinkedIn if they would like to, and I’ll remind people that they can get the book, lovely, discounted Kindle price, and never the time.


Super. That’s great. Thank you so much. It’s been delightful. It’s been lovely to be here. Thank you so much for all your questions. And it’s been a real boost to realize that actually, this these are real problems. These are things that will change. project managers, program managers lives every day. We’re in a different world now. And more than ever, we need to design and run our workshops for creative collaboration we really do, whether it’s virtual hybrid or in person. So wouldn’t it be wonderful if the lasting legacy of this horrible COVID diamond lockdowns would be that actually, we can really get to grips with workshops, and we learn how to make our project workshops work.


Really. All right. Thank you very much. And I’m sure we’ll be in touch soon. And Good night, everybody, and I’ll talk to you soon. Thanks. Bye.

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