Workshops are becoming a more and more popular forum for brainstorming, planning and learning, whether it’s a new business idea, project or program.
When done well, they are super productive and a great way to get people engaged, maybe in a way they haven’t before. They also can be very fun, however its important to organise them well to save you getting caught out at the last minute. Here’s our 6 simple tips on organising a successful workshop.
1. Define and communicate the goals
Ahead of the workshop, make sure the project lead and facilitator set out clearly the goals for the workshop. This should be shared ahead of time, and on the day of the workshop, it’s a good idea to write up the goal clearly so others can see. An idea to kickstart participation is to encourage participants to add and feedback their comments on it.
2. Decide and know the attendees
If your workshop is to discuss or brainstorm a more complex problem, you may want to keep your workshop limited to smaller numbers, i.e. 6-8 participants. If it’s a more general, widespread topic, or an interactive workshop, you would want to consider more participants e.g. 8-15. However, it’s important to limit the number so you can keep control of the agenda and timekeeping.
3. Prepare and share the agenda
At least 48 hours before the workshop you should share the agenda to all attendees, and if you want, ask for comments/feedback, giving you enough time to make any last-minute edits. This allowing for early feedback on the agenda demonstrates that you are willing for participation and sets the tone for the workshop. A clear agenda and participation is key!
4. Pick a perfect location
The location for your workshop is very important. Ideally, depending on the nature and topic, they are best held off site, as this physically removes you and the team from distractions. If you are choosing an off-site location make sure you visit the space ahead of time to check for size, AV equipment, catering etc and that it will cater to all your needs.
5. Plan your tools and props
This is an incredibly important step for preparing a successful workshop, having enough tools and props to allow for successful engagement and participation! Make sure you have plenty of Sharpies, markers, sticky notes, whiteboards, paper etc. Or check out the pre-made workshop kits from Myndflo.com which takes the hassle out of planning tools and props!
6. Vary engagement methods to encourage participation
Finally, as already mentioned, you want to set the tone for participation. Remind participants before and during the workshop that you want their opinions, feedback and ideas. A good way to get input from everyone is to vary the engagement methods. I.e., ask for feedback open-forum where you invite the room to make suggestions, or set time limits i.e. 5 mins and ask everyone to write down independently their thoughts and ideas before sharing with all.