How to plan a better Workshop

You can run a better Workshop at your organization by following a few simple steps.

Every year, organizations plan workshops for their Employees – sometimes for a select few, other times for the Team at large.

A better Workshop has the potential to influence, inspire and provide clarity.

But one that is less well-run wastes time, money and impacts management credibility.

Here we share a few tips that will help your Workshop Leader deliver a better experience for your Participants.

1. Write a ‘Mission Statement’ for your Workshop

As with any important project, develop the Mission Statement or set of objectives early in the planning.

Of course you will tinker and tailor with the Mission Statement as you gather more input – but it’s a super important thing to begin with.

A great Mission Statement informs decisions ranging from selection of  content through to the seating arrangement.

Simple examples of mission statements are:

  • ‘As a result of this workshop we expect participants to better understand our current reasons for change and help them work through their Denial & Resistance phases…’
  • ‘After this workshop, we want better integration and bonding between those members of our Team who are newly hired and those who have been with us for some time…’
  • ‘We want participants to leave with a solid definition of Customer Experience, what it means, how it ‘works’ and how to bring it to life in their own work environment.’

Whether your Workshop Leader is the ‘main event’ or is one of several Speakers, understanding the Mission of your workshop helps.

2. Describe the expected audience in as much detail as practical

Audience composition matters.

If the audience is a mix of management and Front-line Team Members, its not appropriate to cover topics like ‘how to motivate staff’, or ‘how to improve staff performance’.

These are better reserved for a management-level audience only.

On the other hand, topics like “Stress Management”, “How to Enhance your Personal Brand” or “How to bring Customer Experience to Life’, can be quite relevant for a mixed level audience.

Be as specific as you can be.

For example –

The audience will consist of 10% senior management from all divisions, 30% middle management from the Sales & Marketing groups and 60% from the Frontline split evenly between Shops & Contact Centre.

3. Share the seating strategy

How seating is arranged and who sits where has a big impact on the success of a workshop.

If the setting is lecture style, such as in an auditorium, the Lecturer may decide to proceed with a one-way presentation (in the Ted Talks style).

Alternatively, they might break down the audience into sub-groups.

After all, a group of 100 is really nothing more than 20 sub-groups of 5 people each.

If there is to be group or table seating, define who is supposed to sit at which table.

If one of your objectives is to get folks to know each other better, avoid situations where management all sits together and staff all sits together.

Seating plans can be predetermined by the organizer or, if preferred, the Lecturer can help to establish the seating assignments.

The key is to let the Lecturer know the seating strategy ahead of time.

Workshop Leaders have a variety of effective and respectful workshop strategies to get participants to rotate to new locations if needed.

4. Define the role of the ‘Big Boss’

The role of the ‘Big Boss’ or bosses should be clarified before the start of the workshop.

Typical roles of the Big Boss in a workshop are to:

  • Address the audience at the beginning with the objectives of the Workshop and the desired outcomes from the Workshop
  • Share latest organizational news and updates
  • Reinforce the Vision and/or purpose of the workshop
  • Introduce the Speaker or Speakers
  • Observe participant reaction to the Workshop

Big Bosses should walk in prepared to deliver on their role and ideally ‘stick’ to that role and not improvise on the spot.

A Big Boss can easily take over the workshop if you’re not careful.

In a recent event, the senior management had to quietly ask the Big Boss to leave as their presence (and poor introduction) created a lot of fear in the room.

5. Let your Workshop Leader know how much time they will have

If one of the workshop objectives is to allow participants a chance to get to know each other, it’s likely that a long lunch and long tea breaks will be encouraged.

The workshop might be held on a weekend and so ends earlier than a normal working day.

Once introductions, tea breaks and lunch have been factored in (along with starting and ending times), your Workshop Leader will know how much ‘real’ time they will have for delivery.

While Workshop Leaders are obviously good at time management, there is a big difference between having 4.5 hours to present and. 6.0 hours to present.

6. Share the evaluations & feedback with your Workshop Leader

Successful Workshop Leaders learn from every session they conduct – whether its the 5th time or the 50th time they are presenting.

They appreciate the feedback.

Thank you for reading!

Thank you for the time you took to read this today!

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Daniel Ord

[email protected]

Life at Work
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