How close a workshop when there’s a plane to catch

How to close a workshop when you’re running out of time

There are plenty of approaches regarding how to close a workshop and finishing a workshop on time is important to me – especially when people have to travel.

At a two day planning workshop for an Emergency Services  client, I’d stated that we’d finish Day Two by 1:59pm. (It was Friday afternoon and people had planes to catch.)

So the pressure was on…

The final session on revising the ‘Terms of Reference’ had to be completed. During the program we’d talked repeatedly about the importance of reflection in building a learning culture within organisations. So I couldn’t let people leave without some form of reflection.

It was now 1:58pm and taxis were booked for 2:15pm…How to close a workshop

I remembered one of my facilitators golden rules – never carry around other people’s baggage.

Reflection was the participant’s responsibility. So with 60 seconds left on the clock, this is what I said…

“As you travel home, think over the last few days. Consider what you were anticipating before arriving, your expectations that we discussed and what you experienced throughout the two days we’ve had together. Once you’ve done this, write down a word or short statement that reflects how you’re feeling now that our work is done.”

With that I thanked everyone for their participation, patience and persistence and I closed the workshop – at 2:00pm.

There are some downsides to this approach

Some people may have left without a sense of completion due to the ‘rushed’ nature of the finish.

Others may still have had something important to offer in the closing stages of the workshop

The hidden upsides

This approach can actually give more reflective people the timeout they need away from a group to process what went on what it meant to them.

Having some ‘in-between’ time can create the the thinking space they really need.

Need help in conducting your next workshop? Get in touch to schedule a call.


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Andrew Huffer

Andrew Huffer has over 25 years experience in working with organisations, businesses, managers and communities and at a state, national and international level. He designs and delivers specialist engagement processes, with a focus on facilitating open decision making processes and skill development of clients. He has delivered presentations and workshops at a number of state, national and international conferences.

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