Webinar: How to run a successful persona workshop

Creating personas is fundamental to delivering standout customer experiences. Watch this 25-minute webinar to help you run your own persona workshop.
Computer with desk on it


Dane - 00:00

Hello and welcome to a distinction presentation on personas and how to run a successful persona workshop.

My name is Dane Montano.

I'm the head of experience design here at distinction and my focus is in CX and user experience design and that's all backed in design thinking and I lead our design team here at the agency and today I want to give some insights to a fundamental part of a discovery phase to any project and provide

some details on an exercise that develops customer centricity really within your business or your digital product development.

So today what we're going through are what are personas?

Why are they essential to an engaging user experience?

Why does a workshop help create personas and why do we think that might be a preferred method?

Dane - 00:41

So what you need to do before the workshop, so some workshop preparation and we'll give you a loose agenda on what that day should look like and some activities that you want to perform during the course of that day and then expect an outcome for a successful persona workshop.

So what are personas?

Why are personas important?

Personas are an important tool in user experience research.

They are fundamental to the start of any digital project and a key component of the discovery phase.

Creating personas is an efficient way to discover and deliver shared understanding of users.

Personas inform strategy and support the best possible outcome for a successful customer experience.

Dane - 01:19

Personas are really going to help gel the team An aligned focus from all the cross-departmental activities within a digital product and really put the user at the center of everything and get everybody advocating for that user in terms of the efforts that they're going to commit into that project.

So it really does streamline things in terms of effectiveness and maximizes results for the end user basically.

So what is a persona?

Personas are fictional characters that represent a segmentation of your custom basic key demographic.

They're a summarised view of your existing target audience based on market research and real data insights.

So the word persona comes from the Latin mask.

The idea of a persona is to really try and empathize with the perspective that's not our own.

Dane - 02:07

In particular, the key target audience or your desired demographics perspective in terms of what they want to be expecting from the digital products that we're putting out into the market and how that's going to maximize the value to the problems they're having around that scenario that your digital

product solves.

So as I mentioned before, research and insight are super important.

Committing to research before a persona workshop is essential to a successful outcome.

There's three types of research we really want to commit and that's primary research, secondary research and cross-departmental collaboration.

So primary research is input directly from your customers, so that could be something like performing a customer survey for example, NPR scores, that kind of thing.

Maybe you have a complaints department that's got recorded complaints directly from the customers.

Dane - 02:57

Maybe you want to set up some interviews with a UX designer or researcher like myself and interview the customers directly.

So anything that comes directly from the customer's kind of mouth or keyboard, if you like, with classes primary research.

Secondary research is data available from your online resources and users activities.

So things like Google analytics, Your internal CRM as well and what you can see within your marketing automation platform in terms of email, click-through rates, things like that.

What data can we gather on the usability of your products?

If it's a website, for example, what information can we see from that in terms of understanding who the users are today?

And cross-departmental collaboration is something I feel is really, really important.

Dane - 03:47

In terms of those first-hand experiences that your team have with your clients as well, getting the insights to that can be really, really constructive when building personas.

The other thing I'll just quickly mention as well, usually what we want to do is get the secondary research done first, because it's usually more obtainable.

It's a case of logging in and downloading the data and reviewing that data and seeing what insights you can bring out of that.

And whilst you're doing that, you can be accumulating that primary research, interviewing clients, for example, customers.

Getting those surveys out and getting responses back.

Ironically, sometimes you do the secondary research before the primary research, but hopefully that makes sense.

Why to create persona?

Dane - 04:30

Persona development supports multiple areas in a business.

They support your strategic focus.

So again, it's getting a whole business line in that customer centric way of thinking.

Stakeholder alignment from the top down, always super important that everybody understands and has got confidence that we're all trying to solve the same problems for the same people.

Custom orientation, empathy and closeness we already mentioned before, really put a mask on and really empathise with that perspective to really try and understand the best way that we can deliver value in the solutions we're trying to solve and mapping user journeys as well.

The experience that your customer goes through in terms of understanding and learning about your products or using your product it really helps us understand where that user might have come from before landing on your product for example that kind of thing and it helps us optimize that user journey

as well through brand messaging, branding key messaging.

Dane - 05:21

So sometimes when we do personas something might want to revise when you understand who we're trying to Who we're trying to connect with, what walks of life those people come from and the languages they use and it might be something we want to clarify in our brand of key messaging.

And it also supports the north star metric as well most businesses have which is obviously the long-term success of the business and that metric usually has to do three things.

It's got to be led by revenue, it's got to reflect the custom value and it's got to be measurable in its progress as well.

So the combination of understanding who the users are, getting a really good clear path in terms of the engagement data that we execute on our products itself and understanding how our users are using the product is really going to help us measure the success in terms of how we progress into that

North Star metric.

So why a workshop?

Persona workshops are an amazing way to energize teams, knowledge share and support a working culture Built around your customer and their needs.

Dane - 06:25

It helps teams get beyond their own individual perspectives, assumptions and biases and it underpins an understanding of UX in a real world context.

It also creates alignment, ownership and momentum and a collective vision within the project as well.

So yeah again you know workshops are really kind of cool team bonding exercises as well that really build a shared understanding and a shared collaboration into the business and again Promotes that user-centric kind of culture.

So who do you want to involve in a workshop?

So we want to include a selection of stakeholders with a good understanding of the whole customer experience spectrum.

Participants to be involved should be able to describe the customer attributes, needs, characteristics, pain points and challenges.

It's super important.

Dane - 07:09

So we suggest about six to ten stakeholders as an ideal group size.

Six ten participants if you like.

And that allows everybody to contribute fairly, gives everybody a good opportunity to get their opinion in and gives room for a bit of focus, discussion and deliberation.

So six to ten is usually a healthy way to get a productive outcome for your persona workshop.

So who the type of people want to bring into a persona building workshop?

So the first person you're going to address is the facilitator.

Who's going to be running the workshop?

Dane - 07:41

Who's going to be organizing the space?

Who's going to be creating the templates and bringing the equipment that you're going to need for the workshop?

And more importantly the facilitator's job, as well as setting the agenda, is to lead the team and navigate the workshop to a productive outcome.

So they're going to be a bit of an authority on the day to get in that productive outcome Design leads and product owners are very key.

To truly use a centric perspective and key drivers for customer application.

So getting those guys involved right at the start and understanding who they're designing for and understanding the needs of who they're designing for is going to be really, really constructive for any efforts they do with their conceptual work and the solutions that they're going to put forward.

The marketing analyst and brand leads.

Dane - 08:41

These guys are going to provide the data insights to support persona accuracy and it will track those data insights obviously as well as we submit our solutions into the market and ensure that brand vision, mission and values are adhered to.

So yeah those guys are going to give you those insights and you'll be able to translate what they can see real time today from the data and open up the conversation about that and maybe compare it against experiences of the customer service team members for example which I feel are really key to

bring into persona workshops.

As I mentioned before, first-hand insights To what's working well customers and more importantly what isn't is super important to understanding our customers.

So bringing somebody in that's working with customers day to day is highly recommended and equally with the sales team as well which is a little more focused in the buying cycle of the customer journey but nevertheless it's going to bring an understanding to the buyer journey and what leads a

prospect to convert or conversely what puts them off so that can then support the marketing teams really and the messaging and making sure that we're serving the right information At the right time to lead and nurture those customers through the desired customer journey.

And senior management, ideally a key decision maker who's sponsoring the success of the project with an authority to keep progression going, which is always helpful to have somebody of senior management in there because everybody's confidence on the efforts they're driving forward and gives them

Dane - 10:04

confidence that the project's on trend as well.

And again, it helps everybody advocate around the user rather than pointing their own personal opinions, what they think is right.

Everything should come from the user's perspective.

So this is exactly why we need to build these personas at the start of the project.

It sets the tone for the whole project and delivering value to the customer in the market at the end result.

Preparing for the workshop, things you're going to need to do on the day.

Planning is key.

Dane - 10:30

A well-planned workshop should take about a day, around about eight hours including breaks.

So the first thing you want to do is organise a space and a time for us all to come together, ideally face to face.

So we say ideally face to face because you know getting together is a lot more free-flowing, conversation tends to be a little bit more bouncy off participants, a lot more collaboration.

But obviously today as well you know online virtual whiteboarding tools are becoming very popular, they're very very accessible, very easy to use, And especially when you're trying to get everybody's calendar aligned can usually be a little bit more of a convenient way to get everybody together.

So nothing wrong with that.

But, you know, face to face feel is especially if this is something that's new to the team, it's something that it can be very bonding and gets everybody kind of singing off the same hymn sheet basically.

And like I say, in our experience can be a little bit more productive if you do it face face.

Dane - 11:26

Whiteboarding tools such as Miro, you can even use Google Slides, Figma's got its own Jamboard as well, anything you guys can all collaborate on real time is super suitable for planning a workshop.

Obviously get that whiteboard tool set up first with your frames and your templates, so a little bit of organization as if you would if you're doing it in a physical space just in a virtual environment.

So send a clear and a time box agenda to participants encouraging questions prior to the workshop itself.

So what we want to do is just try and question anybody's anxieties they might have about coming to a workshop.

Especially if this is not something that a lot of people have done before.

Some people can find speaking of mind and being a bit creative and running things off the cuff a little a little nervy.

So just make sure everybody understands what the day is going to include.

Dane - 12:12

Set it up as a fun exercise that there's no right or wrong answers.

Just try and set the tone before the day and just give everybody a good insight into what they're going to be doing and that can usually just get the productivity going in the morning.

Make sure the research and data insights have been done and are ready to present.

It's a really key one obviously, it's going to set a nice foundation for the work you're going to do later on in the day.

Make sure the equipment and tools required are present and correct.

So basically what you're going to need for a workshop in a physical space is a lot of post-it notes, Some marker pens, maybe a whiteboard or some large pieces of paper if you don't have a whiteboard, anything you can all be collaborative of in one space.

So maybe a flip chart, something like that.

Dane - 12:56

So basically anything that anybody can kind of work with individually and then basically stick into one area and collaborate in one space.

And again if you're using a virtual whiteboarding tool, You can get all of that set up before the meeting and maybe even give everybody an insight to what that looks like before the meeting as well so they're not thinking of a chance to play with the tool.

It could be a cool thing to do.

Okay so that's the planning of the workshop.

So what I'm going to do now is go into the templates which you want to prepare before the workshop obviously as well and so the templates can come in lots of different various forms.

Depending on if you want to do a B2B persona or a B2C persona or you can even do lean personas but fundamentally you want to be capturing some key points here.

Sometimes you don't have to have a picture in it always but from experience it does usually help people connect with somebody and really understand what really helps break down those barriers and start understanding this person to be somebody less fictional than they are.

Dane - 13:58

Pictures usually help do that, so the things you want to cover are going to be the occupation, obviously the age demographic, maybe what kind of sector they work in, that's probably more B2B specific and what part of the world they're in.

A little bit about me as well can be like a bit of an opening statement, something that explains who this person is in a sentence, can be a good exercise as well to bring some reality to this.

And the key things you want to always cover in a persona template is what that person is responsible for, What motivates them in life or in their professional career?

What goals they will have in life or in their professional career?

And their needs and expectations as well around their specific problems that they're having, whether it's in a B2B space or in a B2C space.

And the challenges and pain points as well, really really important challenges and pain points because these are going to be the two key boxes that we can really draw some inspiration from within our key messaging for example or the things that we want to tackle from a feature perspective if it is a

digital product that we're trying to address.

Dane - 15:00

I like to put in there the technology that I use and the brands I recognize Because what we want to do is obviously we want to create really seamless user experiences.

So when we understand what type of technology our personas are exposed to and the kind of brands that are into, that really helps us affiliate the style and expectations of what we want to present in terms of the solution to the digital product itself.

And then sometimes it's cool to put a scenario in there as well.

So if it's very specific, Your persona is trying to action a certain problem with their life that's relating to the product that we're trying to provide that person.

Putting that scenario in there really helps us kind of put that detail into the points of focus that we want to concentrate on.

So that's your persona template and then the next thing we want to do after we've compiled all of that is put some more meat on the bones.

It's really getting to empathising with this persona, really trying to make this person feel like a real individual.

Dane - 15:56

So what type of things would this person say?

What type of things do they think?

How do they feel?

And what do they do?

And again, this could be within a professional environment, it could be a very broad term as well, it could be a mix of professional and personal life.

Again, depending on who the key demographic is and the idea of the audience you're trying to reach, these personas can Can take on different template forms but these two templates pretty much cover everything.

It's pretty essential to try and make this a realized person and really understanding that perspective and really put ourselves in their shoes which is the whole point of the exercise.

Dane - 16:35

So on workshop day we'll give you a bit of an idea now how to structure the persona workshop day and the exercises that you're going to do throughout course of that day to get a decent persona template at the end of it or three to five It's probably something I should touch on now because I think I

do cover it in this.

So we recommend that three to five personas is probably, depending on your team size as well, is a manageable amount of personas to address and service throughout course of the digital project exercise.

So throughout the duration of the project You want to be focusing on the needs of three to five personas.

Any more than that it tends to get a little bit unmanageable and the productivity of the value that we're trying to put at the end of the result of this can can start to dilute a little bit.

So an experience three to five personas is kind of the max and those can be then Obviously iterated later on down the line you know personas are never fixed you know these are things we want to be doing consistently through the course of any digital project cycle really so but initially the startup

project three to five personas can really put some strong perspective on the direct needs and priorities of our project.

Dane - 17:45

So this is what a day might look like We split it down into four 90-minute sessions across an eight-hour day, put a 30-minute lunch in there and I said plenty of breaks as well because we want to maintain the energy levels up for the whole day, maximize the productivity and make sure people are

having fun while they're doing this.

So lots of breaks and As you can see here, so I'll do a quick run through what the day should look like.

So you're obviously going to start the day off with the introductions and the agenda, introduce the team as well, and then you jump straight into those icebreakers that I just mentioned there as well.

Again, really important to set the tone, gives everybody a bit of a chance to use the equipment, use the virtual wireboarding tool if that's not something they've used again, and set some positivity for the day.

And then we want to do a presentation, we want to share with the team what we know to be true.

Through the research and insights so that's getting your marketing team and your analysts to sort of present the market research they've done in relation to the digital project and showing what they and drawing what insights they can see to be true from what the data is showing them about the

Dane - 18:50

personas that we're trying to create if that makes sense.

So basically what customer data do we have and what can we draw from that in terms of the type people, demographics, genders, that kind of stuff and what's the data telling us.

So once we've done that for 45 minutes we'll break for 15 and whilst that's percolating everybody's head what we want to do is bring everybody back in and have a group session and knowledge share with the customer knowledge share our customer insights with each other so based on the information we

know to be true from the data how does that correlate with our experiences firsthand as a team So again this is really really useful to getting your customer service operatives in and any sales teams can usually have a lot to say in this and correlate and what they can see in the data so that gives

us all a chance to have any surprises or you know confirm any assumptions that we had based on the data that's been presented.

And then we'll break into another group session and what we want to do once we've had that conversation we're all very much Aligned around our customers, the conversation is very focused around our customers.

What we want to do is give each team member a set of post-its or a section on the whiteboard and get them to write down as many archetypes as they can think on, the customer types they understand that we should be servicing as a business.

Dane - 20:01

So that usually takes 30 minutes to get everybody to write everything down, have a little bit of open conversation about it.

And then what we want to do is bring all of those We'll put all of those post-its on the board and we'll start trying to put some order to those post-its so any duplicates for example we want to want to get rid of and then we might start want to start trying to group group personas into kind of

related affiliate affiliate groups basically so anybody that might come from different walks or similar walks of life for example have similar job titles things like that so we want to try and just group it up the best we can.

And then we want to prioritise those three to five as I mentioned earlier because we don't want to do any more than three to five.

So how do we prioritise it?

Usually a good way of doing that is giving everybody in the room three votes and then giving them maybe five, ten minutes to have a look at what's on the board, you know, get everybody to digest what's there and get them to vote on what they think are the most important personas that we should be

focusing on as a business.

Dane - 21:03

And through that exercise you usually get a correlation and get some pretty good front runners.

On occasion, sometimes it can take a bit of debate.

If you've got six or seven that have a similar amount of votes, maybe you want to run that over again if that happens and get those votes done and refined until you've got those three to five archetypes or job titles or persona types that you're then going to build into the templates in the later


So after we've done that and got those three prioritized personas, we'll break for lunch for 30 minutes.

Again, it gives everybody a chance to talk about what they've done in the day and try and facilitate and go around, make sure everybody's having fun.

Try and keep those energy levels up during the lunch break as well and try and make it very informal.

Dane - 21:51

So then we'll come back in after lunch and we do another 30 minute session and we pick one persona to create together as a team by filling out the persona template.

you've got a group of six to ten for example, the first thing to do is get one of those personas and go through the exercise of filling out the persona template and that gives everybody confidence then to go into the breakout session later on and do it on their own basically.

So I'd recommend we go through one persona template, give everybody an idea what the expectations are for the next breakout session, have some open conversation about it as well and get everybody energised in for that Breakout section, there would be a 60 minute exercise where you'd probably split,

say if you've got six to ten, probably split people into maybe two or three groups and give them the remained personas that we identified as prioritizations individually to those groups and then get them to write those templates down on their own.

So that usually takes about an hour or so and then we'd have another break.

And then after that we'd be part four and we'd kind of finalise the personas and come back together and we'd all review the personas that each group have built individually on their own and that gives everybody an opportunity to amend and make additions, discuss any patterns they see and resolve any

conflicts or anything they don't agree with with what the group might have suggested.

Dane - 23:15

So join that 60 minute session in the end, you really want to try and finalise those three personas or those three to five personas depending on the group size.

And By the end of that session you should then have three to five personas that you can firmly cement as an agreed direction that you've collaboratively come to as a team to put the focus on into the products you want to build from that point on.

A really cool thing to do as well, especially from a facilitator's point of view, is to get some feedback on the session itself.

So what we want to do is make sure this becomes kind of a regular practice because as I mentioned earlier personas are something we're going to do as a one-off.

It's something you should probably revisit on a regular basis.

So from a facilitator's perspective getting that feedback on the session and finding out what made people feel uncomfortable or did they have any problems with the way things that were set up really helps kind of Taking roadblocks out for the next session and helps build productivity for the next

session basically.

Dane - 24:14

So any learnings you can take out of that workshopping session from your participants.

Super important to maximise productivity for the next sessions.

So an outcome.

So the successful persona workshop will give you the following outcomes.

An aligned messaging brings you closer to your customers and their needs.

Obviously we spoke a lot about you in the course of the presentation.

It brings aligned messaging and tone on the right channel at the right time.

Dane - 24:39

It's a foundation to attain higher acquisition, retention and advocacy rates and a shared customer centric perspective across all departments.

Again, something we've mentioned all the way out through the presentation here as well.

So by pointing yourself in their shoes and the thinking and feeling like your personas do when they interact with your product or service, you'll know what the messaging resonates with who and what sort of tone of voice we want to use And which social media channels you might want to use and when.

Personas and data insights will help you attract more customers, retain more and turn them into ambassadors loyal to your brand.

Instead of siloed internal teams with their own point of view, they'll become one customer centric vision across the whole team.

So again, as we mentioned all the way through the presentation, Aligning teams, maximizing productivity into your digital product development is a really essential component to get that done.

It's building these personas and hopefully today we could give you some insight of what you want to do After you've used after you've developed those personas so now you've identified your document and documented your personas you can re-manage in your customer journeys and said optimize those

Dane - 25:53

pathways to purchase for example or optimize the actual feature benefits of the products you're creating based around certain problems you might have identified within those persona workshops and you can reassess your campaign messaging.

And as I've mentioned a couple of times already, this is something we should be doing regularly as well, which is why we feel this is a really important webinar to deliver today and hopefully gives you some insights and gives you a bit of confidence and can give this a try for yourself.

If you'd like some help running a persona workshop obviously that's something we can help provide here through myself or my team here at Distinction which is something we'd be more than happy to have a conversation with you about.

But hopefully today that's given you some some insight to why personas are so important in the product development cycle And why personas are very key to understanding the position in your brand in relation to the target audience you're trying to achieve.

Hope there's been a lot of value for you today.

As I said, my name is Dane Montano.

It's been a pleasure and thank you very much.

Thursday, September 1, 2022
10:00 am
~30 minutes


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