A workshop is a training class in which participants work to find solutions or gain hands-on education or knowledge. Though often confused with seminars or conferences, this method of learning includes a laboratory portion that allows the learners to interact and reinforce the new concepts thus allowing a real skill component to be achieved. Because of the time intensive preparation and facilitation needed for workshops, care has to be taken to ensure the time is well spent and beneficial for the contributors and the company.
Facilitating a Successful Workshop
- Be prepared
- Use all teaching styles to encourage all learning styles.
- Practical portion is significant for integration and reinforcement.
- Use ice breakers to ensure comfort and interest.
- Choose the most productive times for engagement-avoid after lunch, which is the most unproductive time for most people.
- If the workshop is for the purpose of education, more participants are ok. However for problem solving less is better.
- Gather feedback after.
- Provide follow up.
Planning for a Workshop
A primary objective needs to be clearly defined before a workshop is offered. This will help to determine the number of attendees, the length, venue, activities and decision-making strategy to employ if needed.
Next the goals should be broken into sub points and activities and time limits should be allotted to each to ensure completion. However room should be made for learning curves, difficult questions and individual help sessions in break out portions. Finally, before running a workshop, leaders should ensure to accommodate busy executives who are unable to attend the entire gathering by determining how and when to present core information. That way, those who need to leave early or arrive late are catered for and can participate as well.
During and After the Workshop
The workshop presenter needs to ensure the information is provided with excitement and practicality and that it is memorable. Workshops cost companies time and money, so they need to be worth the effort. Ensure that everyone is involved and engrossed through discussions and activities. If the goal of the workshop is to find a solution, encourage interaction through brainstorming and suggestions. Gather ideas and implement the most effective team decision-making strategy. There are many choices such as team consensus, voting, and anonymous contributions. Ensure that the input is recorded and later provide the participants follow up data to show that their ideas have been put to good use.