Four tips for planning workshop sessions

Here are my ‘go to’ essentials for planning workshop sessions

Planning workshop sessions can be challenging. Having core elements to use, along with a tried and tested template will get you off and running.

1. Be very clear of the outcomes that need to be achieved

Before the workshop, when working with the client or sponsor, get clear agreement on the tangible outcomes that need to be delivered.  Make sure these are communicated to participants before the workshop and confirm them at the start of the workshop.

Above all, make sure that before you start, you are clear on the ‘POP’  – this is a great tool for planning workshop sessions.

Purpose – what is the workshop trying to achieve?

Outcome – what will be the results produced?

Process – what tools and techniques will you use?

2. Always use a Facilitators Running Sheet

This is an absolute life saver as it provides a complete process picture of how your workshop will run.

It should include part of the script or questions that you will use to transition from one exercise to another; the materials you’ll need and the activities that you’ll run.

Be sure to test your processes, checking that each will help the group achieve the workshop outcomes.

You may need to adjust the timing of each section as you go, depending on the questions that arise from participants. This is 100% normal within any workshop. Be flexible, stay focused and stay calm. You know your content well and the running sheet will keep you on track.

Workshop Running Sheet template (for a strategic planning workshop) is provided for your own personal use to help you in planning workshop sessions.

3. Have a separate agenda for participantsPlanning workshop sessions

The participant version has the information that is most important for their participation. This includes the start time, location, break-times, session titles, and some details on what will be the focus and task of each session. This gives participants confidence that their time will be well spent, the issues covered are the right ones and that if they need to take a call etc, they know when it is safe to do so. It should be about one or two pages and easy to read at a glance.

4. Provide different ways for participants to engage

Not everyone communicates, listens or learns in the same way, therefore you need to have a mixture of activities giving people things to look at; talk about; or to be able to get up on their feet and move around.

Need help with planning workshop sessions – or running them? Get in touch.

Want to go even deeper with your facilitation skill development? Get to the IAF Oceania Conference 2023

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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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