Written by Jim Babb

Recently, one of Part and Sum’s newest strategists asked the team for advice as she prepared to lead her first remote workshop. Our Slack channel lit up with thoughtful responses, and I decided to share them because they apply to so much more than marketing workshops. These rules will improve your next brainstorm, group project, meeting… maybe even a date. Ultimately, it’s all about connecting with people in order to make things happen.


“Set up a parking lot to table good ideas that might derail the current conversation. Just be sure to come back to it later for inspo and ideas.”“Encourage a ‘yes, and’ mentality, especially in the early phases. Let ideas grow before you start cutting them down.”“Balance open discussion with fun activities that provide structure for sparking ideas.”“Sometimes it’s good to avoid overthinking. Set a timer for five minutes and ask people to write down as many ideas as they can. Then go around the room and have everyone share their favorite.”“Whenever you feel stuck, ask an open-ended question.”


“Use the client’s own language (unless it’s inaccurate) for describing and categorizing things. Mirroring language prevents confusion, and creates a connection.”“Allow space. Be OK with awkward silences while people are thinking.”“If people aren’t speaking up, ask if anything has surprised them, or if any of their hunches have been confirmed.”“If someone is dragging the whole thing down, break into smaller groups and put that person with a boss or senior colleague who can help check their behavior. You can also acknowledge irrelevant comments briefly, put them in the parking lot, and move on.”“When in doubt, try a power pose. Can’t hurt. Might help.”


“Lay out the plan before you start. An agenda is great, but you also need to set norms and expectations for the process.”“Schedule breaks so everyone can decompress and come back refreshed.”“Watch the time. Make sure people are collaborating, but also moving ahead with the information you need from them.”