Engaging workshop

December 21, 2008

How do you engage with people in a creative way that are not from the creative industry, reluctant to participate or have little understanding of the design process?

The Dance Base Workshop

The Dance Base Workshop

As the investigative design relationship with Dance Base (DB) in Edinburgh develops into understanding such issues as loyalty, reward and charity I have begun to develop some workshops. These workshops are about trying to engage with the different stake holders within the organisation – all with different viewpoints, aspirations and opinions.

I asked some of the employees of DB to create a short 3 minute video of “their perceptions of Dance Base“. These turned out to be terrifically insightful and amazingly professional! I wanted to use these videos at the workshop to get the participants to think deeper about DB and the issues surrounding it. To help them open up and approach things differently I started the workshop with an Alexander Technique (AT) class. This Technique is often used by actors and musicians to help them with such things as posture, projection of voice, relaxation, awareness of self and composure. It is an interesting way to start a workshop as straight away the participants know something different is taking place. As part of the class they were all asked to lie on their back and watch the 3 minute videos. While they were doing this they were asked a series of probing questions to get them to think deeper about where they worked, the value of the place and how it should engage with people as a charity.

This was the first workshop and many lessons have been learned. Using the AT was certainly successful in facilitating the engagement with the participants. The discussion afterwards was very insightful for myself . The videos worked especially well, not only was it something tangible that the board of directors could see but it inspired more of the employees to participate in further activities.

When I am creating workshops I always try and  consider what I am wanting out of them, who are the people participating and design the workshop to be fun, stimulating and importantly productive.