Designing hybrid workshops: sharing wonder

Alastair Somerville
4 min readAug 15, 2021


People chatting in workshop room

I may be giving a workshop on designing hybrid workshops in late September. This post just collects some fragments together that may go into it. The main themes of this workshop are Clarity and Confidence.

  • Clarity to know what you want to communicate thru a workshop (as opposed to a talk).
  • Confidence to deliver that workshop.

The image above is from a workshop I facilitated in Aarhus, Denmark in 2016. It was titled Sharing Wonder and was about designing workshops. The best feedback I got was a participant saying she was now going to resign and start the new business she’d been thinking of. Confidence gained thru clarity.

Sharing your wonder

Rough sketch of workshop design structure

In the 2016 workshop, there were no slides as I was using participant feedback to try and work out what kind of support they were seeking. The above diagram was sketched later from the whiteboard diagram I drew during the workshop. It has a structure of Q to A — a pivot structure from sharing Questions to sharing skills for Answers.

A lot of this is drawn from ideas in a system I use for teaching how to make talks. Read the TalkMaker post on that. The key in that talk is the pivot from Me to Us — sharing ideas to understand that what I am concerned about is something we should be concerned about. Again it’s a pivot structure.

This diagram is a slightly tidier version of the sketch.

Rough sketch in more formal box structure of slowchart

It’s the first box about Title that I’ll finish this post with today. What is the wonder you want to share and how do you want to share it?

What kind of workshop? What kind of role for you?

Flowchart of choosing what role you take in sharing content: key divide between teaching and facilitating

Having knowledge or skills to share is important. People will only learn from a person who is interested in what they speak of.

You don’t need to be passionate about it but trust and confidence is founded in respecting a person’s experiences.

You don’t need to have all the answers. Creating a place for people to think about problems and try and use their experiences to find possible answers is entirely valid too (frankly this is what I mostly do).

This is why the above diagram matters. Once you have decided on sharing some wonder you know of, you need to decide how to share it. The Teaching or Facilitating choice is strongly dichotomous but it’s useful when starting out and needing some clarity.

Teaching is a role with very clear models of behaviour. Using the college model of education means you (and your participants) know the patterns of learning and the ways in which everyone should act. This can be very useful for teaching very specific skills for work.

Facilitating is a role that shifts and shimmies. Facilitating is improvisational acting when the audience doesn’t know they are actors too. Participatory design and codesign workshops depend on facilitation to engage a range of people with differing types of knowledge and lived experiences.

Knowing what role you are choosing is important. Confidence is based on your level of comfort with the role you have chosen. The form of content you deliver then depends on this choice.

This version of the flowchart shows some ideas about content, authority and roles.

Additional information on roles of teacher and facilitator in the different forms of workshop

Think about what you want to share and think about how you want to share it. Remember:

Clarity for confidence

Perhaps this pre-workshop survey might help.

I will come back to this post and update it as I consider structure and content for the September workshop some more. I will definitely be talking about design of hybrid content and wayfinding thru new knowledge.

Originally published at on August 15, 2021.



Alastair Somerville

Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX