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The Fountain Institute

Activity Archetypes in Workshops

published5 months ago
2 min read

Dear Reader,

Last month we talked about the 5 Key Elements to Designing Workshops, which is a great way to get started.

Let's go further into one of the more challenging elements, workshop activities.

Designing the right group of activities is crucial to keeping your participants engaged and excited during a workshop. But where do you even begin?

Sometimes the most challenging part is not knowing where to start or what terms to Google for inspiration. This is where the power of the workshop activity archetypes can help.

You can use these to get inspiration for activities. Let's take a look at the purpose of each archetype and some examples.

10 Activity Archetypes

1. Introductions

Purpose: creating a team/group alignment

It is critical to create rapport within the group during workshops, especially with remote work. Take the time to let everyone get to know each other; this will foster better collaboration.

Example: Team Player Card

2. Creating & Iterating

Purpose: using collective knowledge to develop and try new ideas

Once you know what problem you are solving, harness group creativity and figure out how to solve the problem right. Begin to construct concepts and build on them quickly.
Example: Experiment Card

3. Prioritizing

Purpose: collective decision making of ideas on both efforts and impact

When a group needs to decide which ideas to take forward and which ones to leave for another time, utilize different prioritization frameworks.
Example: Bull's Eye Diagram

4. Taking Temperature

Purpose: creating safe space for exploration and participant management

Check in with your group at different points during the workshop to gauge any hidden issues or needs.
Example: Asking, "Raise your hand if you need more time with this activity"

5. Pattern Finding

Purpose: Using collective perspectives to find new insights

These activities can help the team make sense of large sets of data/information by sorting them into dominant themes.
Example: Card Sorting

6. Generating

Purpose: Using the creative collectiveness to develop new ideas

Activities that utilize the spark of group collaboration are great when a project needs to generate ideas.
Example: Opposite Thinking

7. Aligning

Purpose: make sure there is a collective understanding of past, present, or future information

Don't assume all team members understand the current state of projects or what goals the team is moving towards. Provide opportunities for group alignment.
Example: Start, Stop, Continue Retro

8. Researching

Purpose: unearth unknowns as a group

Collaboratively generate new data through a variety of interactions with your users.
Example: User Collage

9. Testing

Purpose: trying out new ideas and receiving feedback

Get concepts in front of people as soon as possible to see how they interact with new ideas and get immediate feedback
Example: Low-fi Prototype testing

10. Engage & Inform

Purpose: fill a knowledge gap in an engaging way

Provide background information necessary for all participants. This is important, especially when working with a diverse group of people with various insider expertise.
Example: In a recent workshop, I showed the audience a behind-the-scenes view of my visual outline...a pointer can help with engagement (see GIF below)

Visual outlines demo
Watch the whole talk here

Now you have a great starting point when searching for activities. I hope these archetypes inspire you to find new activities for your next workshop!

If you want to get better at activities and designing workshops, I encourage you to sign up for one of the last seats in our Facilitating Workshops Course.

Until next week!

Hannah Baker
Educator & Co-Founder
The Fountain Institute