Do you feel anxious about leading a requirements workshop?
You are not alone. Many of us, even experienced Business Analysts have felt quite anxious and stressed when it comes to being in the limelight of leading a workshop. Especially if it is full of senior stakeholders and it covers a subject matter you are not familiar with…
I’ve been there, many times!
I used to get quite a lot of nervous tension running through my veins before these workshops, especially if there were more than 5 people coming!
I tend to be more of an introvert who enjoys working 1:1 with people, instead of in groups. I am much better at this now and although I still have a little adrenalin pumping before a big workshop, I enjoy the entire process of planning and leading workshops now that I know what to do!
What should you do to manage the anxiety you feel before a big workshop?
For me, there are essentially 3 aspects I plan before every workshop:
#1 Prepare, prepare, and prepare!
Although this sounds obvious, it is the single most important aspect of managing my stress levels. I found that when I have a clear agenda and I plan in detail how (what specific techniques to apply) I will run the session, I am 90% there! I make sure I have all the tools (flip charts (or miro boards for online), print outs, roles (scribe, facilitator support person (if required) etc.) ready on the day. This removes any stress about any of the logistics or how I will execute the session...
#2 Know your attendees.
For me knowing who the attendees are helps a lot to managing stress levels. When I know exactly who is coming, I can either make direct contact with each person before the session to build some rapport (& break the ice as it were, reducing my stress) or I try and learn more about them by research and having conversations with people who do know them. This information also helps a lot with my number one priority of: Prepare, prepare, prepare!
#3 Group size & goals
Whilst I am not discussing all the nitty gritty of requirements workshop planning here, I do want to make a short comment about the group size. The larger the group, the more structure you should give your session.
To keep control of the group, you need to tell them exactly what they must do during the workshop. You do this via the Agenda (to set the expectation of activities) as well as when you open the workshop discussing the Why, What, How and What If aspects.
For example, you can tell them to form smaller groups and rotate through the multiple flipcharts/miro board sections to validate a process map / or requirements. Tell them how many minutes you’ll give them for each flipchart/miro board section. Also tell them that after the rotation we will all report back to the wider group on each group’s key feedback items.
For me most of the workshop happens before the actual workshop itself. This is because preparation is what it is all about and whilst it makes a huge difference when it comes to managing my own personal stress or anxiety about it, it helps to ensure a successful outcome.
I found that once the session is underway, any nervousness I felt disappears, and I start to really enjoy the facilitation session itself.
I hope my experience and tips will help you manage your stress levels before your next workshop!
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