Have fun but don't lose the focus
BREAK - RELAXED ATMOSPHERE - REWARD
In every step of a co-design session, from the check-in to the check-out, it is very important to have a flexible attitude. In the meaning that the organizational team has always to keep in mind that the participants might not be familiar in doing some activities and reasonings which are required by the collaborative design approach.
Therefore, it might be very appreciated having some quick breaks in the meanwhile of the meetings/sessions. This will surely help the guests/participants to be more active and efficient. These breaks change according to the situation, they can be just a light joke during the presentation or a delicious buffet at the end of the teamwork.
The breaks must be organized in the advance, possibly together with the schedule/timing of the session. So, the team is going to be as tidy and coordinated as possible.
See Don't underestimate the details tip for gaining more insights about the timing sheet.
But please be aware and don't underestimate the unpredictable aspect of the participatory design. The organizational staff (composed mostly by mentors, moderators, organizers, speakers and designers) has to be able to understand when it is time to change tone of voice, being more ironic or playful and when it is time to have a more serious and demanding attitude.
Another way to make participants more focused is to give them some spot rewards during the entire session. The "reward" can satisfy various requirements and/or expectations. The reward can be just a moment in which the participant can have a say and express his or her doubt or insight; in can be a tasty snack during the workflow or a common gadget that people can bring at home and use it as a precious gift, indispensable tool or another useless "souvenir".
Don't forget to go back to work!
// In other words
Make the participants feel comfortable and active;
Provide them the right assistance and tools;
Understand when it is time to have a quick break and when it is time to go back to work;
Be able to handle and interchange the playful and serious moments;
Define, organize, give some spot rewards to the participants.
// opencare experience
During the entire co-design experience, from the engagement to the involvement phase, we had to reach different set of goals from time to time.
According to the kind of audience, place, time and activity, we employed many attitudes and perform different roles. Sometimes we were very playful and ironic and in other times more serious and hard-driving. We had a lot of fun, but at the same time we always did our best to reach our goals without losing our focus.