Understand your audience's needs

Related areas
DiscoveryClient relationship
TL;DR recommendations
—Get as much detail you can about the target audience from your client; —Insist on sourcing insights from the audience directly as well: use short surveys or mini-interviews; —By the end, you'll be left with valuable insights into your participants: profiles, goals, expectations, challenges, pain points, specific questions, and identify any objections or misconceptions they might bring into the session.

It’s tempting to start designing a solution (workshop, training, or any other session) with the content in mind.

It’s a common pitfall for those starting their facilitation journey. Instead, you want to ensure you start by clarifying:

—Who is this session for?

—What will they take away?

—What's the change we aim for?

Why is this important?

For once, knowing your audience will help you decide what to include in your design and what to leave out so that you can maximize the time spent together. By tailoring the content and activities to their needs, you’ll increase the likelihood that your audience will achieve the outcome they set out to get out of the session.

Second, knowing your audience's needs and pains will help you build trust and rapport faster, fostering a positive collaboration environment and a sense of psychological safety amongst participants.

Option 1: Email your client

If you are designing a session for a team, you can send out a short email to the client with some of the following questions:

—Who will be attending, and how familiar are they already with the topic? How familiar are they with working online? Do they know each other?

—What are they hoping to learn/ achieve gu the end of the session?

—What work had been done prior to this?

—What are the most common challenges, concerns, or objections regarding this topic? Are there any tensions or watch-outs? What dynamics or hierarchies are in the group? Who is likely to be difficult and why?

—What should happen during the session for you to consider the workshop a success?

Option 2: Survey the participants themselves

Create a pre-workshop survey using an online survey tool like Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, or Typeform.


  • What are your primary goals and expectations for this workshop?
  • Do you have any specific challenges or pain points related to the workshop topic?
  • What knowledge or skills do you hope to gain from this workshop?
  • Are there any specific questions or topics you'd like the workshop to address?
  • Are there any specific outcomes you hope to achieve through this workshop?
  • What should happen in this workshop to make it worth your time?
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate your current proficiency in [specific skill]?
  • Have you attended any previous workshops or training on this topic? If so, please share your level of experience.

Option 3: Run mini-interviews with the participants

If possible, conduct some one-on-one interviews with a sample of participants

Option 4: Learn from past feedback

If this isn't the first workshop you are running with these people, review the feedback you got from the previous session so you can adjust the design.

—What were the common suggestions or critiques from previous participants?

—Were there any recurring themes or areas for improvement in past workshops?

—How can you incorporate past feedback to enhance the upcoming workshop?