Frustrated that your meetings fall flat or fail to achieve your objectives? Take heart. With thoughtful preparation and a few tricks of the trade, you can design meetings and workshops that get results.

This blog post introduces a topic covered in our Design Your Facilitation Strategy course. For more information, check out the course page or download the course syllabus.

If you’ve ever led a meeting, you know what a struggle it can be to create an engaging and productive event.

It can be agonizing to spend hours planning only to fall short of achieving your objectives—and it happens more often than you might think.

In a Harvard study, more than 70% of senior managers surveyed found most meetings to be unproductive and inefficient.1

Three Keys to Building a Better Meeting

So how do experienced facilitators plan meetings that engage participants and inspire action?

In addition to leveraging principles such as co-creation and visual thinking, top workshop facilitators consider the three Ps:

  1. Plan: Effective meetings demand thoughtful planning, yet many people tend to underestimate the power of preparation. Simply creating an agenda is not enough.
  2. Purpose: Meetings that create buy-in and put people on the path to achieving a goal have well-defined objectives and specific desired outcomes.
  3. People: Successful meetings are geared to a specific audience. You need to select the right attendees and the right people to lead the work to most efficiently get the results you want.

The Mechanics of Designing an Effective Meeting

While meeting planning takes time and strategic thinking, you don’t have to start from scratch.

Our Workshop Planning Canvas helps you make critical planning decisions that provide a solid foundation for designing a meeting that generates excitement and forwards your goals.

Over two decades of planning and facilitating highly effective meetings and workshops, we’ve developed an adaptable, repeatable system leaders can use to build meetings that move people to action.

We’ve packaged these learnings into our latest course, Design Your Facilitation Strategy

What will I learn in the Design Your Facilitation Strategy course?

During this three-day course, you will learn to:

  • Use people-centered design to improve meeting planning
  • Define the purpose and objectives of your session
  • Assemble your meeting plan systematically using building blocks, considering alternatives for different audience needs
  • Validate the plan through feedback and craft a run of show plan to prepare for delivery

Who should attend the Design Your Facilitation Strategy course?

Engaging for anyone who runs a lot of meetings, this course is particularly effective for leaders and managers who want to:

  • Use meeting time more effectively and efficiently
  • Keep meetings on track when conversations or questions derail the agenda
  • Get results from collaborative, high-performing teams
  • Lead teams that are engaged and collaborate better together
  • Learn fun, innovative methods to increase participation
  • Leave each meeting with clear outcomes

What will I take away from the course?

At the end of the course, you will leave with:

  • A planning template with building blocks you can use and reuse to plan future meeting agendas
  • A personalized agenda and meeting plan for a large, high-risk, and/or distributed effort
  • A personalized run of show to ensure smooth delivery

Download the course syllabus for a full description of learning objectives and course details.

How do I enroll?

Head to our Design Your Facilitation Strategy course page to learn more.

1 Harvard Business Review. Stop the Meeting Madness. July-August 2017. Found at Stop the Meeting Madness (

Additional Resources

To learn more about XPLANE’s workshop facilitation thought leadership, check out the following resources: