A step-by-step guide on how to run a successful personal workshop

November 11, 2024
8 minute read
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When you need to validate an idea quickly or understand who your product would resonate with, you can run a user-persona workshop. A personal workshop is an exercise for gaining valuable information about your target audience and, more specifically, the people within the audience to whom your service would most benefit. You can use them throughout the product-development process to have shared understanding of your goals.

But, there are numerous benefits to having a user persona, not only those above. These include understanding needs and preferences. Understanding your personas is important for all stages of business. They are also useful for all people in your business like ux designers, product development teams and marketing managers.

So, in this article, we're going to explain how to quickly gain information about personas and put them together for your business on a business day with a workshop. A workshop is a great way to inform your product decisions if you complete them correctly. They are used to guide your team and based on the research you will gather, helps you quickly fulfill customer needs.

Key takeaways

  • User research you need for your marketing persona
  • Understanding user needs
  • How to run a successful user persona workshop
  • Become an expert facilitator with the per-workshop checklist
  • How to create profiles of your target users and their needs
  • How to identify the key information needed for your audience

Why do you need to have a user persona?

Without a persona, it will be nearly impossible to create something people want and need. To effectively meet user needs, a fictional representation can guide you. These fictional representations are called user personas. You can create these based on research and data analysis.

With the information you gain during the research phase, you can :

  • Needs
  • Preferences
  • Goals
  • Behaviors
  • Expectations

You can then tailor your products and services accordingly. Ultimately, these help you understand what people want so you can create a product to meet their needs.

When you have a persona gaining traction in your industry, finding a gap in the becomes simpler. One way of quickly coming up with one is with a workshop.

What is a user persona workshop?

A persona workshop is a collaborative experience that brings together members from all departments in your business. The cross-functional teamwork provides an opportunity for increased productivity and deeper analysis of potential users.

A workshop is beneficial because it provides a structured framework for:

  • Insights
  • Data gathering
  • Data analysis
  • Developing deep understanding

There are multiple goals within a workshop. We are outlining them below to help you understand how they benefit your business. You could think of the information below as a workshop template. If you follow it you can run a successful persona workshop to get a clear picture of the audience you will serve.

Creating empathy through user-centered exercises

In workshops, you encourage your team to put themselves in your end user's position. In doing this, you can develop empathy for your users and understand their specific pain points. Your team interacts with each other as users, so recognizing potential issues that your audience may have becomes a breeze. By comparing insights and understanding, your team can then compare and contrast their experiences to give you a holistic overview of your users and product.

Holistic views of your users

Because workshops are inherently collaborative, you will have access to a wide range of insights about those who are potentially interacting with your product. These insights accurately reflect multiple viewpoints, many of which your target users will have. When you combine multiple points of view, cultures, and perspectives, your understanding of people that could fall into your target audience dramatically increases.

Stakeholder alignment

Persona workshops can become a platform where you align stakeholders from various backgrounds. Involving representatives from various departments like:

  • Marketing
  • Design
  • Development

You can ensure that everyone involved in the decision-making process is aligned and shares a common understanding. It can make working towards a common goal easier for everyone in your business.

So you like the idea of a persona workshop. Now what? How can you create a persona, or multiple, quickly so your product management is improved and accurately represents real users?

How to conduct a persona workshop

First, stop and give yourself a pat on the back. The first step in any journey is getting started. By reading this article, you now understand why you need a persona, and you're taking the steps needed to create one.

However, you will need to prepare for a workshop before you create one.

Here's what you should do, step by step, to prepare for a workshop and achieve your desired outcomes.

Define your goals and expected outcomes

The first step to creating a user workshop is to define clearly what you expect to achieve from the workshop. Ask yourself what you hope to achieve and list it out. By doing this, you solidify your goals and can create a path to achieving them.

You can answer questions like:

  • What do I hope to get out of this workshop?
  • Am I creating personas from scratch?
  • Do I want to refine existing personas?
  • Do I only want to gain a deeper understanding of my audience?

You should answer these as in-depth as possible because they are going to guide the remainder of your workshop.

Next, you want to collect ideas. Take in suggestions and ideas about the workshop from your team members and participants. Once everyone has shared their ideas, you should outline and organize them. Once organized, you will have the purpose of your workshop, and everyone will be aligned. It will remove confusion about the goal of the workshop so everyone knows what is expected.

Bring together a diverse team of individuals

Next, you should assemble a diverse team within your organization to attend the workshop. You want to avoid choosing people from one department, cultural or ethnic identity. While assembling your team members in attendance, you want as many varying perspectives as possible to represent your potential users. Doing this is an intelligent business strategy because it can lead to market segments you may not have thought about before the workshop.

Together, diverse team members will produce well-rounded personas that can represent many people in your audience. It will add value to your overall workshop experience.

Gather your qualitative and quantitative market research

Developing accurate and insightful personas requires you to have lots of data. But, the data must be relevant to your product and potential users. You can gather:

  • Quantitative analytics
  • Qualitative user interviews
  • Surveys
  • ethnographic research
  • market research
  • Competitor analyses

The more data you have, the better. Just ensure it is relevant to your audience or the audience you hope to build.

Create an agenda

You need to create an agenda for your workshop. Doing so is important to maintain consistency, meet your goals, and make sure people know what is going on. At any time, you feel you're behind or not progressing as expected. You can refer to your agenda to stay on task.

You will also ensure that all topics are covered fully by outlining key information .

In the agenda, you should include the following;

  • Activities
  • Breaks
  • Discussions

You may feel tempted to avoid a detailed agenda that includes times for breaks, but we urge you not to. It's very easy to say you will get lots done, but on the day of the workshop, you could inadvertently affect outcomes by not adhering to the detailed agenda. Count your minutes before you begin. It will benefit you later on.

Armed with the aforementioned, you are now ready to start conducting the workshop. So, what should you do, and is there a specific method for conducting a user workshop?

How to conduct a user persona workshop

Before we get into this section, we want you to know that, like everything, there are multiple methods of execution. However, we are going to outline the methods for completing user workshops, which we've found to be successful.

Engagement activities

Engagement activities, sometimes referred to as icebreakers, are essential during a user workshop. They are a powerful exercise that serves two purposes. The first is to help all people feel comfortable working together. If you have a team that rarely comes together, they may feel uneasy talking to people they do not see often.

An engagement activity can break the ice and help everyone feel at ease. People working together is the success of your workshop, so plan these activities wisely.

The next important aspect of an engagement activity is to get everyone engaged in the workshop and ready to think. If you jump straight into a meeting, your team may be half asleep and unwilling to cooperate. Or, worse, they may not be fully focused on your activities.

Essentially, these activities aim to energize your team for the workshop ahead.

User persona creation activities

The core of your workshop is the user persona creation activities. You should spend the majority of your time on these. It is now that your team comes together to create a detailed and accurate user persona. Your activities should allow and encourage teamwork when:

  • Analyzing your research data
  • Identifying patterns and trends
  • Synthesizing information

If creating exercises that are effective sounds difficult, you can use the example outline we've used hundreds of times working with businesses.

  1. Look at the research findings
  2. Identify user segments
  3. Craft personas from segments.

When you are looking at research findings, you should look for notable user behaviors or preferences. As you identify segments, you separate users by commonality. Usually, businesses do this by demographics, psychographics, goals, and behaviors. Lastly, as you craft your user personas, you should fully outline the person's characteristics, motivations, goals, and challenges.

What information should you include in the user persona template?

You may assume that simply listing out everything about your target user is enough for a detailed user profile. But you should ideally include an image, all demographic information, psychographic data, a customer story, and even their intrinsic and extrinsic goals.

These goals are what your service will help them achieve and how it will do so.

Once you have created these personas, including an image and as much information as possible, you should review these as a team.

Team revision of your user persona profiles

Collaboration makes everything better. Often, it helps us identify issues we didn't know existed. So, you must call your team together to review the new, detailed personas you have created.

During this phase of the workshop, you need to have each team of participants present the new personas. They should explain their reasoning and decisions and highlight key insights that guided them in creating the persona.

Next, you need to compare and consolidate. Compare each user persona and look for data overlaps. Is there anything that makes one persona look like another? Is there any data that is distinct when separate but has overlap? If so, you may be able to combine the information and create a new persona.

Lastly, you should validate and redefine what your team has come up with. You need to engage your team in discussions about their work. Consider all the perspectives after these new creations have been presented and seek a team consensus on what would or wouldn't work.

The last two sections of the workshop involve adding more details to these personas. Take time to talk about them with your team to gain deep insight into them.

Mapping an emotional journey

You need more than a persona to make your business a success. All business owners know that people buy a product or service with emotions and then validate that purchase with logic. A crucial part of making sales and building a loyal customer base is understanding your user's emotions before and during the process of deciding to buy from you.

You can achieve this with empathy mapping exercises. Empathy mapping exercises help you understand emotional behavior.

During this activity, you:

  1. Choose a persona
  2. Identify their actions
  3. Try to understand their emotions and feelings
  4. Define through needs

The first step is straightforward. Choose a newly created person and begin the process. After that, your team should make a list of actions that people could take on your website or app. They should further outline how they are feeling with each action they take.

Are they feeling frustrated? Why?

Do they feel upset? Why?

By understanding emotions, you can regulate them later when you create your product or service.

Emotions will help you understand and map the customer journey.

The customer journey exercise

The last, but definitely not least important activity is the customer journey. At this stage of your workshop, you should have multiple new personas and understand their needs, wants, desires, and how they feel when looking at your product or service as a potential solution for their problems.

Journey mapping is the actions users take on your website from the moment they first interact with your business until they become customers.

Identify the stages your users will go through, from awareness to loyal advocacy.

Yes, we said advocate. Rather than a simple journey, we recommend you use the buyer infinity model. In this model, a customer becomes aware you exist, and you give them immense value to become a brand advocate.

Lastly, you should look for ways to improve your user journey. Improvements could be:

  1. How to get a customer to become an advocate faster
  2. How to move them from awareness to paying customers more quickly
  3. Identifying what stops some people from becoming a buyer

Now, you have completed the workshop, but you're not quite done. Throughout the product development process you need to revisit the information you have gathered. Doing so will aid in identifying patterns and themes with the people who use your product and help with future testing and research.

Discuss and extract more information to improve your UX

Now it’s time to go back to the whiteboard. Take a moment to discuss everything you've covered with your team. Make a list of endpoints, summarize discussions, and bring everything into full sight in a clear, concise way. Then, start extracting the key insights from your meeting. These insights will help you in future meetings, and you can use them to improve your product or service.


We've covered how user personas are an important aspect of any business. From Google to Apple, these exist within all businesses.

We have run various persona workshops and would love to set up a successful one for your team. If you need a bit of help, click the yellow get started button in the top right of the screen to schedule a free consultation with our team.

If not, bookmark this page and refer to it when you want to conduct a workshop in the future. Consider all this information research in advance, which helps you in building a product with empathy for users. And, it helps teams develop personas that will help the whole company and set the stage for discovery workshops later.

With everything given here, you can cater to your persona’s needs and create an unforgettable user experience for your digital product.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to do a user persona workshop?

To conduct a successful user persona workshop, separate stakeholders into small groups, explain the template, give each group time to fill it out, let groups present their personas, and review and refine the outcomes. Compare different personas and discuss patterns to ensure accuracy.

What is a customer persona workshop?

A customer persona workshop is a collaborative session that brings stakeholders together to create user personas and gain a better understanding of their needs, goals, behaviors, and pain points. It also serves as a platform to align stakeholders across departments so they share a common understanding of the target user.

How do you conduct a persona exercise?

To conduct a persona exercise, have people form small groups and explain the persona template. Give each group 15-20 minutes to fill out the template, then let them present their personas and compare any differences or conflicts.

How can personas improve the efficacy of usability testing?

Personas can enhance usability testing by providing a basis for recruiting and screening participants, helping to structure tests and interpret results, and aiding in the creation of solutions.

How often should user personas be reassessed and updated?

User personas should be reassessed and updated at least once a year to ensure they stay relevant.

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