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Make Your Meetings Fun but Keep Them Relevant to the Audience

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

Last week in Walsall, a town in the West Midlands of the UK, a row erupted over the world's most popular toy building-brick. As US audiences happily sit down to an evening's TV watching grown men and women make Lego funfairs and spaceships, political leaders in this town of 68,000 were outraged to be sent to a Strategic Planning Workshop and be presented with a pile of plastic bricks.

The Conservative-run authority has launched the Walsall Proud Programme, which will see it spend £10m (around $13million) on consultants PriceWaterhouseCoopers in a bid to transform the way the council works and deliver savings. Members of the town's Administration were asked to use the toy to build their idea of a "resilient community".

To say it didn't 'go to plan' is an understatement. One councillor's creation featured a partially built house, fly-tipping and a Lego Elvis driving a dog-drawn cart. (pictured above). "To have senior councillors sitting there and playing with Lego is absolutely baffling," he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service "The whole session was patronising.

Pity the poor Workshop organisers.

You know they thought they were being terribly modern and oh-so creative bringing this playful game to the table. If they had taken this to a hip, young start-up populated by Millennials and GenZers - it may have been seen as a retro-bonding exercise, appreciated by the participants, and accepted as a metaphor for bigger challenges.

But this was a partisan Council Meeting with highly paid senior civil servants and elected officials from different, warring, political parties. The Council Leader was either naiive or 'asleep at the wheel' when he approved this Workshop and its content, but the Consultants - especially from a white collar, blue chip firm like PWC - should have known better.

Workshops have definitely moved on from endless powerpoint presentations, flipcharts and lengthy speeches and there are many different configurations to make them a success. At 98Republic we work with clients to tailor each workshop event to the audience, the challenge and the desired outcome.

Workshops are useful tools to achieve a number of objectives and are a great way to impart information to a broad audience. Working for large multinational companies, we have structured workshops which contextualise and explain significant changes to the business model, product range or new innovations being rolled out. They are a suitable format to share evolving corporate positions and to practice delivering those messages in various scenarios.

They are also an excellent way to gather feedback and insights into corporate or strategic priorities. Working with board members from not-for profits we have constructed workshop sessions which opened dialogue and the exchange of ideas on strategic goals and objectives. We also run consultation workshops which invite local residents, employees and key stakeholders to engage and share opinions on development, infrastructure or community initiatives.

And workshops can be an excellent way to collaborate. Working with managers, owners and team members, we have organised workshops with the stated goal of drafting Vision and Mission Statements, pooling the ideas and input of a mixed and diverse crowd to create shared ownership and a collective 'esprit de corps'.

If you want to get more out of your department and team meetings, get in touch and we will work with you to plan and deliver workshops which deliver outstanding results.

And, if appropriate, we can even bring the Lego.

Martin Liptrot runs 98Republic, a Business Development, Marketing and Public Relations agency with the stated aim to Make Good Ideas Happen. Martin has organised and delivered single day message and media training workshops, executive leadership team events, board retreats and strategic planning weekends, and week-long corporate conferences with global attendees, key-note speakers, and multiple work tracks.

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