[Q&A] How do you keep facilitation and planning from becoming overwhelming?

Sep 22, 2023

Q: How do you develop good team working agreements?

A: It might seem impossible, but using tactics like visual agendas, mood meters, and adopting agile planning processes can make your sessions feel more approachable.

Great question! Here are a few of the best answers from our Strategy Collaborative Q&A Session!

This is by no means a comprehensive guide to approachable strategic planning facilitations! But, adopting a few of these tactics can make your sessions feel more approachable.

Tip 1: Use Visual Agendas

Creating a visual blueprint.

As you structure your sessions, remind yourself that people remember what they see more than what they hear. A visual agenda acts as a clear blueprint of your plan, providing a pathway that helps participants stay anchored and know where we’re going next.

Constructing a visual wall, not just a written agenda, can effectively delineate the spaces and stages you plan to work through. It assists in reducing the mental load by showcasing a clear, visual pathway to follow, which significantly diminishes the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Pro Tip:

Use Miro as a digital whiteboard to create a more streamlined and organized visual aide.

Reducing visual noise.

In the process of creating visual agendas, it is essential to minimize visual noise. Creating focused visual cues and clean workspaces are key. Too many sticky notes or clutter can add to the emotional energy, making participants feel overwhelmed.

Aim for simplicity and clarity in documenting every part of the process to keep the energy levels balanced. We love virtual facilitation tools like Miro Boards and polls because they can be easily hidden from screens when you need focused attention.

Tip 2: Tap into How You and Your Team are Feeling

Get in tune with your team to determine what ‘feeling overwhelmed’ looks like for everyone.

Mood meters are magic.

Introducing mood meters at the end of sessions can be a fun and effective way to gauge how participants are feeling. It gives them a platform to anonymously share their emotions and feedback, allowing facilitators to adjust future sessions accordingly. This playful tool can lighten the mood and provide vital insights into the group’s emotional spectrum.

Consider profiling personas in the room before planning.

Creating personas also helps in better understanding the dynamics of the people in the room, aligning strategies with the preferences and dislikes of those involved.

As we talked about in our last article about team working agreements, it is always beneficial to learn about your teammates and the way they best operate.

Tip 3: Adapting Agile Planning and Celebrating Wins

Creating an agile, quarterly rhythm with standard agendas streamline and simplify the facilitation process. Being clear about standards and consistency gives concrete thinkers something to ground themselves with and keeps the conceptual thinkers on track.

Agile planning.

Pro Tip:

Remember perfect is the enemy of good. Allow people to settle into the process and take small steps toward the big picture.

Don’t try to boil the ocean all at once.

Strategic initiatives prioritization.

Along with breaking the pieces and timelines into manageable chunks, it also helps to set your strategic initiatives in priority order. Strategic initiatives need to be prioritized to prevent trying to accomplish everything all at once.

Celebrating Progress

During the planning process, acknowledging and celebrating the progress made is vital. It helps in maintaining a positive environment and encourages more participation in future sessions. Ensuring that participants feel a sense of accomplishment can foster more buy-in for upcoming rounds.


It is easy to become overwhelmed when your organization is facilitating big moves and strategic initiatives. But, following these steps and focusing on gradual improvements makes it easier to overcome overwhelm.

Additional Resources to Consider



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