How to Organize a Successful Workshop?
Workshops are important for addressing knowledge gaps, skills inadequacy and implementing new policies or systems. But not matter what your needs are, a workshop has to be strategically planned and conducted a certain way for you to get your ROI.
Keep in mind that some people say that they hate going to workshops and will do their best to avoid it. That is why you need to create experiences that are rich, valuable entertaining and creative if you want your team building, training or co-creation session to actually work.
The truth is, the workshop’s success is determined in the planning phase. Make a mistake here and the session is doomed to be futile. Here are the steps you have to do to prepare for your learning session:
- Define goals. Workshop objectives should be explicitly stated and SMART. They must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Most training sessions fail because the people who design and conduct them do not have definite goals and objectives so the discussion has no direction.
- Decide on the specific people who will attend. The earlier the participants are decided, the easier it is to develop materials and approaches that work on their demographic best. If you’re trying to solve a problem, a smaller team of experts may be needed while larger groups should have a cluster-type design to their session.
- Choose the right location. 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?
- Create an agenda. You have to let your participants know what they’re going to do on some level. Make sure you have the key points, visual aids and the activities lined up for everyone to see during the session. This way, they know what to expect and get to manage their time and energy when working.
- Create a follow-up plan to measure the success and gain feedback. 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.
During the workshop, here are some great tips to follow to enhance the overall experience and value for everyone involved :
- Keep group sizes small so that people who are nervous find it a bit more comfortable to speak up and participate.
- Create diverse groups in terms of expertise and background so that people learn more from each other.
- Designate documentators for each group so you can get the best record from within the group discussions made.
- If you’re lucky to have smaller groups, it’s better to refine the ideas and get down into the discussion with them to help them create better lists.
- Use icebreakers like little games and skits so people can get to know each other and feel a bit more comfortable in one another’s presence.
- Get people comfortable about the topic of the workshop especially if it’s quite sensitive.
- Use cases, visual management and storytelling to get everyone to relate to the topic with their emotions.
A good workshop should enhance team spirit, produce ideas or concrete solution to a problem. Make sure that you facilitate it well to get the ROI on your time and resources spent.