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Design Sprint: Facilitator tips for Tuesday.

This is the second part of a 5-part instalment of Design Sprint tips, focussing on sketch day.

Tuesday is a game of two halves. In the morning the team scours the digital sphere for design inspiration in the guise of Lightning Demos. The mantra is if you take someone’s idea it’s called stealing, but if you take from multiple sources, it’s called inspiration! And in the afternoon the team will follow a Four-Step Sketching process to remix and improve the ideas into a tangible solution.

1 — Recruit your users

An easy one to put on the back-burner. Don’t forget to line up your users for the end of the week, otherwise, you’ll risk not having anyone to test your amazing prototype on! Be prepared for this to take longer than you realise. We recommend putting someone in charge of recruitment to ensure it isn’t forgotten.

There are 3 ways you can go about finding users:

  • If you can, make contact with actual users of the brand you’re working on.
  • Use a third-party user research company. You’ll need to plan this a few weeks in advance though.
  • Find your own users. GV suggests using Craigslist! But you can post an advert anywhere. Linking it to a simple screener survey is a great way to quickly segment.

Your users will be wanting a reward for giving up their time. Keep it simple, a voucher to Amazon is usually good enough.

2 — Lightning Demos

Lightning Demos are an informal exercise to give the team a good idea of what is already there and could solve your problem. It’s one of the only times during a sprint that you’re allowed to use a device.

Smartphone AV Adapters

It’s too easy to grab your laptop for inspiration, which means your demos will be biased towards desktop solutions. Encourage people to look beyond the desktop and explore mobile and tablet; apps usually have more cutting edge solutions. Bring a HDMI adapter for iPhone and Android you can use these to connect devices to larger TV screens, very handy during playback where participants explain the big idea behind their inspiration.

Look Far and Wide

Broaden your horizons and look outside of your industry. You may fall into the trap of only looking at similar products or services to yourself, as these are the ones you know, but great ideas can and come from anywhere.

3 — Sketching

Final Solution

Before the four-step sketching process begins, we think it’s a great idea to show the participants the summit they are about to climb. Perfect if they happen to be some Sprint first-timers. Just show them an example of a solution sketch.

It gives them an idea of the final destination and they’ll be more comfortable once they understand the direction they are heading in.

The Right Pen

How often have you been in a sprint or workshop where someone mentions the smell of the pens? It can be a distraction, and the fumes aren’t the best for your health. We recommended using Paper Mate Medium Tips Black instead; they’re just as good without the smell. They’re so good, most of them usually go missing at the end of the day.


By Tuesday afternoon, all four walls of the room you are will probably be splattered with content from the previous exercises. Clipboards enable the team to move around the room and take notes easily. Vital for soaking up information before sketching begins.

Crazy 8s Timer

We’ve written before about how to get the best out of your team with the Crazy 8s sketching exercise, regardless of their design capabilities. The time pressure can be debilitating for someone who hasn’t taken part in Crazy 8s before.

Design Sprint X has put together a web and mobile app for a Crazy 8s Timer, allowing you and the team to focus on creating fantastic sketches.

Visit Crazy 8s Timer on Web

Download Crazy 8s Timer on App Store

4 — Music

Working ‘alone, together’, is key to sketch day. However with that comes a vacuum of silence and that vacuum will be filled with weird human sounds; heavy breathing, sighing, pens clicking, chairs scraping, coughing, slurping, or munching snacks. All very annoying, and all very distracting - not the inspirational environment needed to get creative. If you’re an experienced facilitator then you will probably be aware that it’s a good idea to bust out some tunes to stimulate a creative vibe in the room and fill this void.


It’s vitally important to NOT use any old song though, not all music is suitable for cognitive work. If you’d like to know more we’ve pulled together research from Doctors, Scientists, and Psychologists and written an article that explains how music makes you more productive.

We’ve taken that insight and curated the fastest growing Design Sprint playlist on Spotify. Each track has been carefully chosen, tested and measured with scientific methods and theory from the article. Just search for Design Sprint in playlists and you’ll find it, give us a follow, we’re constantly updating the tracks, and we’re open to suggestions — please get in touch if you have a creative mood track in mind.


Now if you want to take it to another level, and quality is important to you then the choice of audio hardware is not something to look over. If you’re an independent Design Sprint facilitator then you will probably be working at the client’s office or a neutral working space. Previously we’ve had to boom tunes out of our MacBooks because the room or TV sound system just wasn’t up to it.

We have recently circumvented this issue of the unknown and invested in a top of the range Bluetooth speaker. We actually chose the new SONOS Move. It’s the first Bluetooth speaker in the SONOS family, but also works within your SONOS wifi speaker set-up. It’s fully portable, has 10 hours playback and charges on a sexy stand.

We recently facilitated a mass Design Sprint with multiple teams in a large auditorium space, and this bit of kit was more than capable of reaching the ear lugs of all the participants. We couldn’t recommend it more highly.

Take a look at our tips for:

Running a Design Sprint?

Download our free slide deck. It includes tips for each exercise on Tuesday, as well as every other day in the sprint.


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