Close your eyes. Now sit comfortably and imagine you’re walking into a house you’ve never been to before. You go up some carpeted stairs and notice an elegant chandelier, antique furniture and several impressive golden mirrors around you. At the top of the stairs you hesitate before pushing a door open. To your surprise you find yourself standing in an orange room with comfortable sofas on which people are casually chatting.

What else do you see? Where are you? You are at the AQR’s workshop course ‘Welcome to the games’.

The endlessly enthusiastic workshop masters, Iain Carruthers and Kate McEnery-Evans, kicked the day off by asking us what we wanted to work on. We discovered that some of us were guilty of having slightly negative associations and/or daunting experiences with running workshops. Don’t we all feel personally responsible for creating insights? Don’t we all sometimes feel like we’re being made to moderate an eight-hour ‘souped-up’ discussion group? Iain and Kate reassured us that workshops can be different and all ‘fun and games’.

How then, you might ask yourself? The key is creating the right environment (London Art House, tick!) and putting people in an open and creative mindset. Iain and Kate showed us how to do this. Not by taking us through a long PowerPoint deck, but instead by letting us experience countless creativity-encouraging techniques ourselves. Within an hour we were exchanging our nicknames, dancing with each other and playing ‘imaginary ball’ games. After having shared many inventive, creative techniques with us, they challenged us to apply what we had learnt and experienced into real-life briefs.

These were the ‘real games’ — from moderating a warm-up exercise asking people to tell us what car part they see themselves as, to getting people simulate their best and worst car journey, to encouraging people to write and draw creatively and hereby getting their childhood memories flooding back. We were thrown in at the deep end, though with two workshop experts on hand to help it went marvellously. It was a rare chance to put learning directly into action, and experience life as a workshop moderator/facilitator, a participant and to reflect on everything together as a group.

The day was incredibly interesting and inspired me, as well as my colleagues from The Pineapple Lounge. It’s only been a couple of weeks since the course and we already feel a lot more confident about proposing and running creative workshops. They are, no matter what shape or form, nothing to be afraid of. With a toolbox of exercises up our sleeves we are now ‘ahead of the game’. Here’s to running many more fruitful workshops in the future — game on!