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Episode 032

October 30, 2019

032 – Workshops at scale: All you need to know to run amazing conferences – with Matthew Kelly

Save yourself time and download my one-page summary of the episode instead of making your own notes.


In this episode, I talk to Matthew Kelly from dotank – a business design agency that helps companies redesign their business and move their teams to action. Matt applies insights from Design Thinking and Story Telling to design, run and scale workshops. Matt and his team have facilitated events with 700 people and has learned how to plan and execute high impact events at scale. 

In the show, Matt explains how to effectively harvest insights from very large groups, and – most importantly – how to structure that data so that you can tell a story that will engage the participants to remain engaged after. 

We also discussed the difference in terms of facilitation between a small and large workshop, and what you need to keep in mind when briefing the co-facilitators. 

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Feeling inspired by the conversation in this episode? We can have our own – take a seat at my virtual table as part of a Mastermind Group.

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Questions and Answers

1:47 Since when do you call yourself a “Design Thinker” and how do you apply Design Thinking to Business Design?

3:26 To what extent are you as “do-tank” involved in the doing after a Design Thinking process?

8:20 If you were a hashtag, what would it be?

9:37 How do you trigger creativity in a group?

13:58 How can you combine standardization through canvas design with the individual treatment of each client? 

15:13 Can you give an example of how you vary the way participants are sharing ideas?

19:42 What is the key difference between facilitating a small workshop of max 20 people and a 100+ event?

26:46 What are the key characteristics or mindsets you are looking for in a group of internal facilitators at these events? 

30:27 How can you make sure that participants are taking the work necessary at such large events serious?

36:18 How do you inform all participants about each other’s output? Is this actually relevant?

39:46 How do you analyse the qualitative data from all these sticky notes? How do you put the data into a system?

44:13 What makes a large workshop fail?

45:38 Can you explain in a nutshell what you mean by “participants facilitating themselves”?

50:35 What is the nutshell a listener shall take away from our conversation?


Matt’s Business website DoTank

DoTank’s high impact event services 

Video of the conference mentioned in the show

Podcast episode with Mireille Beumer 

Design and manage your workshop agenda with Session Lab (affiliate link) 

Check out our featured SessionLab user Rein Sevenstern from Experiential Learning

Connect to Matt