What techniques do you use to keep a workshop discussion on track when participants act in a confrontational manner, or try to dominate the discussion with their own particular issues and concerns?

This situation is probably familiar to most (if not all) Business Analysts, and there are some specific facilitation techniques to keep participant engagement focused and collaborative.

The first essential step is advance preparation. Top facilitators learn as much as possible about participating stakeholders’ needs and concerns in advance. With this knowledge, the facilitator is able to effectively engage each of the participants in the discussion and is prepared to respond when concerns are raised.

When any issue is raised in a workshop, acknowledge its importance to the participant who raised it. People need to know that their concerns are heard and acknowledged – and will repeatedly voice their concerns until that happens. Once the issue is acknowledged, then it can be parked for follow-up outside of the workshop. An example facilitator response is: “I can see this is important to your team. I’d like to spend some time discussing it with you and make sure we take the best direction forward. Can I set up a separate meeting with you next week?”

Anytime an item is parked, there should be a clear action plan and timeline for any follow-up required. It is important to ensure that follow-up occurs as planned, to build and maintain stakeholder trust.

These techniques will help keep workshops productive and stakeholders engaged.

Sandy Lambert
Business Architect
LinkedIn Profile

posted @ Saturday, October 5, 2013 1:36 PM by Chris Adams