Running a great workshop that everyone will remember.
Anyone who has ever planned a workshop will tell you that it's a big job. And planning a good one? Well, that takes organization, focus, and a lot of creativity. So how do you prepare for a workshop that will be not only relevant and productive, but memorable?
Some people hate going to workshops. Done wrong, they can be a huge waste of time and money. However, if they're planned well, they can be incredibly valuable for everyone involved. Workshops are great for brainstorming, interactive learning, building relationships, and problem solving. This is why advance planning is critical.
Follow these steps to make sure your workshop is a valuable experience for everyone:
Every workshop must have a goal. Do you need to improve your company's hiring procedures? Do you want to teach managers how to be better organizers? Do you need to do some team building with a newly formed team?
Many workshops are a waste of time because there's no clear goal kept at the center of the discussion. Without this clear goal, there's really no point in getting people together.
Knowing who will attend directly relates to your objective. For example, if your workshop's goal is to develop a detailed solution to a problem, then you probably want 10 or fewer key attendees. If your goal is centered on education, then you might be happy with a much larger group, which divides into smaller groups for discussion.
Make a list of who needs to be there. Try to be as specific as possible, but leave a few openings for last-minute additions.
If you have 10 attendees, then the conference room down the hall will probably be just fine. But if you have 50 people, you may have to find an outside location that's large enough.
Think about the logistics and practical details of your workshop when you choose the location. Will everyone be able to see your visual aids? If you need a certain technology, like teleconferencing, will the location support it? Are there appropriate facilities for breakout sessions? Will everyone be able to reach the venue? Will you need to organize accommodation for people who are coming from a long way away? And what catering facilities does the venue provide?
Now that you know your primary objective and who will attend, you can start to develop an outline of how you'll achieve the workshop's goal.
Remember, the more detailed your plan, the more you'll ensure that your workshop will run to schedule – and be successful.
The only way to find out if your workshop was a success is to have an effective follow-up plan. Create a questionnaire to give to all participants at the end of the event, and give them plenty of opportunity to share their opinions on how well it went. Although this can be a bit scary, it's the only way to learn – and improve – for the next time.
It's also important to have a plan to communicate the decisions that were reached during the workshop. Will you send out a mass email to everyone with the details? Will you put it on your company's intranet? People need to know that their hard work actually resulted in a decision or action, so keep them informed about what's happening after the workshop has ended.
Once you have a solid advance plan, figure out how to bring some excitement into your event. You know the topics that you want to cover, but how will you make the information fun and memorable for your team?
Getting everyone involved is key to a successful workshop. If you stand up and talk for three hours, you're just giving a lecture – not facilitating a workshop. Everyone needs to participate.
Creating group exercises is different for each workshop. Keep these tips in mind:
Remember, spend as much time as you can creating fun and interesting group exercises. These will likely keep everyone interested and participating.
Here are some more ideas for running a successful workshop:
There's no doubt that planning a great workshop is a lot of work. But if you spend time thinking through the details, everyone will get full value from the event.
The workshop's goal should be at the center of all your planning. Creative exercises will get everyone relaxed and involved, and don't forget to follow up afterward: Although it can be scary to hear what people really thought of all your hard work, it's the only way you'll improve your next event.
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