Jonathan has facilitated hundreds of workshops for small and large groups (from a dozen to several hundred people), all over the world. Here are some of the key features that enable Jonathan to be one of the most in-demand workshop facilitators, globally:

  • Most of the workshops Jonathan has facilitated have had mixed groups, with differing levels of seniority and industry focus.
  • In many workshops, he also directs plenary and breakout sessions to ensure there are various formats to keep attendees involved and interested.
  • One of Jonathan’s core talents is dealing with big personalities and awkward people. He has had to navigate all manner of different contexts. Every time the result has been very positive and Jonathan has received exceptional testimonials, a sample of which you can find on the homepage of his site: https://jonathanmacdonald.com
  • As a master practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and holding a diploma in Neuroeconomics, Jonathan applies these deep skills into reading the room by analysing in real-time what the body language and verbal cues are, amongst attendees. Jonathan uses this ability to dynamically adjust where conversations should be sped up, slowed down, opened or closed.
  • Jonathan’s formats are totally customisable, so once there’s a briefing call to discuss the requirements in detail, he would structure a format that specifically fits what you need. Even then, this is flexible on the day, so Jonathan can manage people’s energy levels and focus.
  • Jonathan also welcomes the chance to assist in the agenda and plot the objectives clearly. Clients really enjoy his interactive involvement, as his 30 years of experience in running workshops and events can all be drawn upon to add the most value possible. He is also willing to have any volume of briefings and de-briefings. Jonathan goes above and beyond the cookie-cutter approach of standard ‘workshop facilitators’ and deliver a different level of experience.
  • Every workshop Jonathan does is tailored specifically to client needs. He has run workshops lasting throughout a week, 9 hours a day, or formats of 45 mins that happen after a keynote talk. The main thing is what the client would like the outcome to be so the below is simply a modular guide that can be tailored at every stage.

The uses of workshops are commonly for:

• Creative Ideation
• Team Building
• Strategic Planning

…but any objective is able to be achieved in a workshop.

The timings of workshops are commonly:

• 45mins (low interaction)
• 90mins (medium interaction)
• 120mins (higher interaction)
• 3-6hrs (highest interaction)

These can be over one or more days.

Jonathan runs workshops for teams of 2 to over 400.

The format adjusts depending on the volume of participants and the level of interaction required. Commonly, organising the room into round tables encourages interaction.

Here is an overview, in his own words:

I usually start my workshops with a short talk to set the scene.

Depending on the timeframe this can be a short TED style immersion, or a fuller keynote.

Here are some approaches that have proven to be very popular:

5 Brave Steps

At the start of my keynote I prompt attendees to use the three-colour post-it notes on their tables to write down (during my talk):

  • What are you most excited about moving forward?
  • What do you think could disrupt you or your business?
  • What ideas could enable a reduction to the disruption and an increase in opportunity?

My keynote will start with an overview of the changes in the modern landscape, from a technology, society and business perspective. One of the main themes will be the rising opportunities for connectivity, collaboration and creativity. Be that from a VR/AR perspective, or in a Big Data, Blockchain or AI context, the audience will be immersed in what’s possible and what the future may look like.

Then the talk moves onto the mindsets that we require to truly maximise these opportunities, focusing on how to adjust our thinking to be more willing to test, learn and improve – thus being powered by change.

At the end of my keynote there will be a short break where people can stretch their legs and add their post-it-notes to one of three areas around the room.

We then address the opportunity wall where people have noted what they’re most excited about. There, I will host an interactive discussion to group those thoughts into themes.

The disruptors wall and the ideas wall are then discussed and the themes found on the ideas wall get assigned to one table each (or more than one table per theme if there are fewer themes than tables).

Then each table discusses the most beneficial ways of making that idea (or group of ideas) come to life in a practical way, using something called 5 Brave Steps: starting at the 5th step which launches the idea at a specific time in the future, and working backwards across time to the 1st step which starts as soon as the conference/event finishes.

Finally, each of the tables will present their 5 Brave Steps for a certain amount of time each, depending on the time allocated for the whole workshop.

Open Space Technology – great for generating innovative product/service ideas

Open Space Technology is an excellent method to involve a wide range of stakeholders in solving a complex problem in a fascinating self-organising manner: participants create the agenda themselves around the focus topic of the event. I facilitate this in the centre of a circle, enabling people to organically bring forward their ideas. The ideas with the most traction then create breakout topics that smaller groups can work on. I often use ‘Mess Finding’ as an approach, enabling people to share which areas they think are in a ‘mess’ that can be fixed.

The Ultimate Press Release – great for working out a roadmap to success

The group start at their separate tables by writing a press release that’s set some time in the future, illustrating what they have absolutely nailed in terms of success. Groups present their press release to each other and I judge who has ‘won’ by how loud the cheering or clapping is at the end (as a vote). Alternatively, votes can be cast by putting a written dot on a group’s presentation paper. Once the winners have been found, everyone works on 5 Brave Steps to detail how they can get from here to there, starting backwards through time from the press release.

Reflection Time

At the beginning (if it’s a multi-day workshop) and the end of each workshop, I tend to include reflection time. This enables people to share their experience with others. It’s very powerful and bonds the group together.

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“We brought Jonathan in to help our senior team understand how we were going to achieve more relevance in our customers’ lives going forward. Primarily, he helped us to understand the business that we are today and the business that we’re going to be in the future. I would absolutely recommend Jonathan to any company in any industry. His insight is invaluable.”

Jonathan Earle
CMO – O2 Telefónica