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.
- Set the stage
- Unleash creativity
- Leave time to practice
- Plan some breaks
- Use a checklist
- Apply some pro tips
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. Emphasise your differences to attract participants. There are thousands of workshops across the UK and probably hundreds in your city. Be creative!
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!
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.
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.
- 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: