7 Tips For a Successful Product Roadmap Workshop

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You might recall that I ran a session for my colleagues on customer centric product roadmaps. It begins with a transport related mission and the Product Manager’s then explore an interactive journey through different styles of roadmaps.

I ran the session again today but this time the group was double in size so it was definitely a lot harder. I’ve been receiving good feedback though. I’m thrilled that my Net Promoter Score is 75% (a customer satisfaction score that ranges from -100 to +100).

Something I definitely didn’t anticipate going into TfNSW was developing my skills in running workshops. Did I say I was good at workshops in my interview? I’ve presented to top executives of some of Australia’s biggest companies and yet presenting a workshop definitely scares me more!

I’ve actually learned that I enjoy creating workshops. It taps into my creative streak and passion for building communications!

Here is my Product Manager’s guide to running an online workshop customers will love:

  • Prepare your workshop materials. There’s nothing worse than attending a workshop with no objectives and no structure. Make sure your content resonates with your audience. Choose an online collaboration tool that works for you (Miro, Mural, InVision etc).
  • Make it fun! I love to weave in a story, mission or a theme to get people engaged. If you go in with a boring intro you can’t expect strong engagement. For example, I created a mission where the boss has bough everyone a ticket on a high speed train and is sending them around the world to conduct product discovery work. Next time, I might put in some badges to gamify it.
  • Set the rules of engagement upfront. Ask for as many cameras to be on as possible. Ask people to be ready to share their opinions.
  • Gauge the audience vibe and adapt your communication style quickly. I cannot stress this enough. Some groups will mirror your energy but others won’t. If you go in too hard with the jokes and corny presentations, it may push some people further into their shell.
  • Ask single, direct questions. You don’t want to overwhelm people with too many questions. Direct questions will maximise your response rate.
  • Maintain control and composure. Don’t fill the silence wit your own voice. I found myself doing this today so I stopped and pushed on to the next exercise. At another point I found myself panicking. I took a breath, gave people an extra minute for the exercise and calmly figured out what to say next.
  • Get people talking. A technique I picked up from people at Westpac is to read out an interesting comment someone has written and say “I’m really interested in this. Can someone speak to that?” This way, you don’t have to awkwardly pick on grown adults individually and most of the time the person who wrote it will speak.

At the end, always ask for feedback

I’ve been asking people:

  • one thing they liked or learned
  • provide a rating
  • provide any other comments/feedback

Customer feedback is important. All comments will help you understand what to change and which elements to keep. If you make it simple and easy to complete people will do it.

This experience has definitely made me a better participant in return. Don’t ever knock a workshop until you host one yourself! It’s hard work!

I'd love to hear what you think!