How to facilitate a workshop?

How to facilitate a workshop?

Have you decid­ed — or have you been asked — to organ­ise work­shops? It is a good way to share knowl­edge or skills with­in a com­pa­ny, a club or a soci­ety. More­over, shar­ing knowl­edge does not nec­es­sar­i­ly mean rein­vent­ing the wheel. A few basic rules must sim­ply be applied for the mag­ic of group com­mu­ni­ca­tion to work. In this arti­cle, we detail the essen­tial ele­ments you need to increase your odds of suc­cess when facil­i­tat­ing your work­shop.

Con­tent

  1. Set the stage
  2. Unleash cre­ativ­i­ty
  3. Leave time to prac­tice
  4. Plan some breaks
  5. Use a check­list
  6. Apply some pro tips

1. Set the stage

Prepa­ra­tion is the foun­da­tion of a suc­cess­ful work­shop, and it will help you be more con­fi­dent. Design­ing a work­shop pro­gramme or roadmap is a good way to ensure that you are suf­fi­cient­ly pre­pared, and that you will have enough time to cov­er the points you want to address. Be care­ful — it can be tempt­ing to go as fast as pos­si­ble to share the max­i­mum amount of knowl­edge but be real­is­tic about the time you want to spend on each activ­i­ty, and don’t be afraid to cut out some of the top­ics.

First, think about the goals of your work­shop. Write them down in a note­book or anoth­er doc­u­ment as you work on them. This will allow you to review them as you plan each activ­i­ty and ask your­self the fol­low­ing ques­tions: Will the activ­i­ties I am prepar­ing help reach the goals of the work­shop? Will they enable the group to relax and get to know each oth­er? If the answer is no, this activ­i­ty is prob­a­bly super­flu­ous to your work­shop.

Then cre­ate a web­site or Weezevent mini-site to set up work­shop dates and ses­sions in a few clicks. Describe the con­tent of your work­shops and get peo­ple inter­est­ed in tak­ing part. Empha­size your dif­fer­ences to attract par­tic­i­pants. There are thou­sands of work­shops across the UK and prob­a­bly hun­dreds in your city. Be cre­ative!

2. Unleash creativity

We have become accus­tomed to work­shops that turn out to be sim­ple pre­sen­ta­tions or group dis­cus­sions. They are eas­i­er to organ­ise, but with a bit more effort we can help par­tic­i­pants learn a lot more through a real work­shop — and have more fun too! A per­son mem­o­ris­es more eas­i­ly if he/she is active­ly involved in his/her learn­ing expe­ri­ence, and if the work­shop is inter­est­ing and dynam­ic.

Facil­i­tat­ing a work­shop is like help­ing the group share their own expe­ri­ences. You can con­tribute your knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence, but the most impor­tant thing is that every­one is real­ly involved.

Ask your­self if any­one in the group has ever expe­ri­enced — direct­ly or indi­rect­ly — a sit­u­a­tion that relates to your top­ic. If you think this is the case, find a way to involve that per­son. Go around the table quick­ly so that every­one can dis­cuss the top­ic or divide the par­tic­i­pants into small groups with a task to com­plete. Even if you have the best knowl­edge of the theme, you can cre­ate games, role play­ing exer­cis­es or ways for your par­tic­i­pants to com­mu­ni­cate their own expe­ri­ences with con­fi­dence. This will make your work­shop live­li­er and more excit­ing!

It is rec­om­mend­ed to get par­tic­i­pants to move around every 90 min­utes or so. A quick exer­cise, a game, or sim­ply chang­ing seats or lay­outs will pre­vent par­tic­i­pants from nod­ding off!

3. Leave time to practice

If your work­shop is about a hands-on activ­i­ty — such as gar­den­ing or cod­ing — make sure you give your par­tic­i­pants enough time to test their new skills. This will help them gain con­fi­dence and they will mem­o­rise bet­ter what they have learned, espe­cial­ly if they can repeat the exer­cise by mak­ing mis­takes and learn­ing from them.

4. Plan some breaks

When organ­is­ing a work­shop, it is easy to for­get to plan breaks — we always get the impres­sion activ­i­ties should be planned where there is too lit­tle time. How­ev­er, facil­i­ta­tors and work­shop par­tic­i­pants are all human and sub­ject to fatigue. The lat­ter com­pli­cates the under­stand­ing and mem­o­ri­sa­tion of new infor­ma­tion.

If your work­shop lasts about 2 hours, it is usu­al­ly pos­si­ble to have tea, cof­fee or some­thing else at the end of the ses­sion. If it lasts more than 2 hours, it is rec­om­mend­ed to plan a break every 2–3 hours, with a quick stim­u­la­tion to get back on track.

5. Use a checklist

  • Have you main­tained a bal­ance between the dif­fer­ent types of activ­i­ties?
  • Does the work­shop include prac­ti­cal activ­i­ties, stim­u­lat­ing moments, and breaks?
  • Do you know what you’re going to say and how you’re going to take charge?
  • Are the venue, fur­ni­ture and refresh­ments planned?
  • Do you have all the equip­ment you need?
  • Do some par­tic­i­pants have spe­cif­ic needs, and how will you address them?
  • Is my online reg­is­tra­tion site user-friend­ly and clear to my future par­tic­i­pants?

6. Apply some pro tips

Energisers

These lit­tle moments bring ener­gy and focus to the group. It can be as sim­ple as stretch­ing or chang­ing seats, or a sim­ple game like ani­mal sounds: assign each one a dif­fer­ent ani­mal and blind­fold every­one. The chal­lenge for par­tic­i­pants is to group by species, with­out speak­ing, only by imi­tat­ing the noise ani­mals make. Choose at least three ani­mals for each species.

Go-rounds

Every­one speaks in turn with­out inter­rup­tion or com­ment from any­one. This can be use­ful when intro­duc­ing a work­shop, or to find out how famil­iar par­tic­i­pants are with your top­ic.

Brainstorming

Gath­er as many ideas as pos­si­ble in a short time. Start by set­ting a top­ic and ask par­tic­i­pants to tell you every­thing that comes to their minds as quick­ly as pos­si­ble — with­out self-cen­sor­ship or debate. This encour­ages cre­ativ­i­ty and unbri­dled ener­gy. Write down all the ideas for fur­ther dis­cus­sion.

Parking space

When ques­tions or sug­ges­tions arise and you can­not answer them imme­di­ate­ly, set them aside on a large sheet of paper stuck on the wall. You will come back to it lat­er. This allows you to stay focused on the essen­tials but reas­sures par­tic­i­pants that they will have an answer a few min­utes lat­er.

Small groups

Par­tic­i­pants are gen­er­al­ly more com­fort­able com­mu­ni­cat­ing in small groups. They feel freer to par­tic­i­pate in the dis­cus­sions. Explain clear­ly what you want the group to do as an exer­cise, write the instruc­tions in a place where they are easy to see. If you want a deliv­er­able, make sure that one per­son from each group takes notes.

Throw back to the group

You do not have to answer every com­ment. If pos­si­ble, del­e­gate this to the group. When a per­son asks a ques­tion, ask the group if any­one has an answer. Of course, you remain avail­able if no one inter­venes.

Have you read this arti­cle care­ful­ly? All you have to do is launch your work­shops. With an all-in-one reg­is­tra­tion solu­tion, you hold all the cards to make your work­shops a suc­cess. Dis­cov­er our online reg­is­tra­tion solu­tion and its mul­ti­ple fea­tures by click­ing below:

Organ­ise a work­shop

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