A persona analysis in user-centered design and marketing is a fictional character created to represent a user type that might use a site, brand, or product similarly. In a design thinking workshop, usually, we encourage our workshop participants to empathize with the user represented by a persona.
This ability is critical when creative activity focuses on the works which need to be accepted as tenable or useful or satisfying by a group. In which case, the design thinking workshops are dealing most of the time. Helping the workshop participants to ‘connect’ with the users is the initial, and one of the most critical tasks a workshop facilitator needs to do.
Ask yourself a question that would you be able to feel the connection with your users in the workshop? You are in this colorful room, listening to the relaxing background music and looking at your persona, who is smiling at you from the center of a piece of paper. What you could probably do is scribbling on a post-it: ‘Angry’ and stick it right next to your persona. But you might never know what your user feels.
One of the ways I would suggest building the connection is by guiding your participants through a scenario. Use the tangible message to facilitate imagination. Invite your participants to perform some tasks using the tool which you are trying to redesign. Or turn off the fancy background music for a while, ask your participants to close their eyes, and simulate the scene the user is facing in their mind.