Workshop facilitation ideas: How to succeed with coffee and sweets

Workshop Ideas Coffee Sweets

These aren’t your usual workshop preparation techniques, but if you’re really looking to get the most out of a workshop, then continue reading.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a business owner looking to get some ideas from your employees.

Or a business analyst looking to map out processes & gather requirements in a workshop.

The rules are the same.

Using these diverse tips will ensure you get the most participation and input to make the workshop as productive as possible. And in turn not waste significant amounts of time and money.

Plus, when you know them, you will want to do this in every workshop you hold.

For me, these preparation techniques have worked both when I’ve been an attendant of a workshop and when I’ve been holding a workshop.

So today I’m telling you EXACTLY what to do to keep your participants active during the workshop, whether it’s for a full day or just a couple of hours.

Your Workshop agenda

Most websites will give you the following tips about how to make a workshop successful:

  • Choose a good location
  • Make sure you have the right people
  • Prepare the agenda
  • Develop a follow up plan

You can check out more info on these at But don’t do that just yet.

Anyway, don’t get me wrong, the above preparations are important but I’m going one more step and telling you how to prepare for your workshop in a some very different ways


Workshop Idea 1: Provide coffee first thing

Your aim is to wake people up just before the workshop begins.

They see it as free coffee, you see it as an opportunity for better engagement.

Everyone’s a winner.

However, some people may not want to drink a coffee, so here’s the real trick:

Use top quality coffee that’s different to that which people usually drink. Note it doesn’t need to be expensive.

That way you can entice people to drink the coffee without telling them your real reasons.

Which of these sounds better?

“Do you want some of this is freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee, it’s really smooth and you’ve probably never tried it before – If you like coffee, you’ll love this”


“Do you want a coffee?”

I know which one I prefer – and it works every time.

I personally buy my coffee beans at Adams & Russell Coffee Roasters because they offer a huge selection and are amazingly fresh when they arrive.

Also, they sell their retail coffee at wholesale prices so it won’t break the bank if you want to provide good quality coffee at your workshops.


Workshop idea 2: Don’t forget the introductions

This is the first icebreaker that will loosen people up and calm your nerves, if you have any.

So now that everyone is alive and kicking, you need to ask them to tell you:

  1. Who they are
  2. What their role is
  3. What they’re looking to get out of the workshop.

This will probably only take about 5 minutes and it means everyone now knows who each other are.

So why does this benefit you?

Well when people in a group don’t know each other by their name, they are much less likely to talk between them.

And it’s even worse when there’s one or two people surrounded by a group who know each other well.

So if you do want maximum engagement from the WHOLE group, doing this is crucial.


Workshop idea 3: Hold an icebreaker

This is icebreaker example is one that was used when I attended a workshop, as opposed to one I was facilitating – and it worked!

Firstly, ask each participant (including yourself) to draw something on the board that tells the group something they might not know about your personal life.

Tell them not to worry if they can’t draw. The chances are that 80% of the group won’t be able to draw.

When one person has drawn their picture, the rest of the group have to guess what they are trying to say.

It’s good fun and gets everyone laughing for a few minutes.


Workshop idea 4: Provide sweets at the right time

Doing this will most definitely get people talking.

We all know that blue smarties make children hyperactive.

Well it’s not much different for adults.

When we eat or drink sugar we become more talkative and active.

Although, when I did this for the first time, I made a big mistake…

I put one bowl of sweets in the  middle of the table.

What was the problem?

The bowl wasn’t within arm reach of any of the attendees, so no one really ate any of the sweets.

So what’s the answer?

You need to put a few bowls around the table(s) and make sure each group member has a bowl within arm reach of them. That way they can just pick at the bowl without disrupting the workshop.

I tried it, it worked a treat

Okay it’s not that healthy – but it works.


Workshop idea 5: Encourage Creativity with wall pics

Remember, workshops always start slowly and brainstorming workshops are the worst for this.

Yet brainstorming workshops are where you need, by far, the most creativity.

If you’ve watched my video on a simple Business Analyst Workshop Technique then you’ll know exactly what I mean.

What’s one way of overcome this?

Try pinning pictures on the walls that get people thinking.

The pictures should have some resemblance to the project in question, but they don’t need to be exactly on the same topic.

Have a think and try come up with some creative and fun pictures to stick on the wall.


So there you have it, some fine and wacky ideas for making your workshop successful and more productive than ever.

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve used any other fun ways to generate engagement throughout a long workshop.


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