Workshop is important for educators, business leaders, scientists, and other professionals. A successful workshop provides participants with new skills, information, and a sense of accomplishment. It also provides opportunities for participants to interact and learn actively.
Key points to Planning a Successful Workshop
But while planning your workshop, you must:
Define the objective of the workshop
What do you want your workshop participants to learn? Do you want to teach a skill, deliver information or increase awareness? You must outline the goals of your workshop. This may result in a list of specific skills to teach, concrete topics to cover, or simply a feeling to inspire your participants. So, think carefully about what you want to accomplish and why it is important.
Decide who your audience is
Will the workshop participants be applicants, students, workers, traders, entrepreneurs, business leaders or professionals? Are they choosing to attend your workshop or is it a requirement? Answers to these questions will affect how you plan your workshop.
Schedule your workshop for the morning or early afternoon
These are the times when participants are most awake and alert. If you want your participants to be fully engaged and aware, avoid scheduling evening workshops after the workday when everyone is tired and impatient.
Publicize your workshop
Let your targeted audience know what you are about to do. Pass around flyers, hang up posters, or contact appropriate quarters to encourage workshop participation.
Mind the size of your workshop
A workshop is not the same as a large lecture. You want your group to be small enough to ask all their questions, practice their skills, and work together. But you also want your workshop to be large enough to keep things interesting.
Prepare a variety of teaching aids
People learn in all kinds of ways: visually, orally, through hands-on practice, or any combination of the above. Remember that you might not know your participants’ learning styles ahead of time, so you will want to have a variety of materials prepared.
Plan to arrive early
Leave yourself plenty of time to set up the space and get comfortable in the room. You might have to meet with technicians, caterers, or your team members before your workshop begins. Give yourself as much time as you can in case you have to make last-minute adjustments to your workshop plan.
Prepare to set up all equipment and arrange all the chairs before participants arrive
Computers, laptops, projectors, and speakers will all have to be fine-tuned in advance. After all, you want your workshop time to be productive: you do not want to spend it fiddling with technology.
Know that you have to distribute materials
If you have notebooks or other workshop materials to hand out, place them on the tables or chairs in advance to save time during the workshop. Make sure they are in the correct order and that they are clearly labeled.
Remember it is necessary to greet participants as they arrive
Arriving early allows you to set up, relax and get to know participants before the start of the workshop. This helps in building relationships with the participants.
Introduce yourself and the workshop
Once everyone is seated, use a couple of minutes to introduce the workshop. Be sure to tell them your name and what they should call you. Give a few words about why you should be considered an expert in the topic and what the goal of the workshop is. It is also a good idea to give a rough outline of how the workshop will be run so that they can be prepared.
Plan to leave time for breaks and know that meals are important
People are more focused on tasks when they have the chance to take short breaks. Thus, schedule your workshop plan to include at least one 5-minute break per hour of your workshop. Also, remember that workshops take a lot of work and energy. Help keep your participants’ energy levels up by providing healthy foods and beverages. Ideally the costs of these snacks will be covered through participant registration fees or by the organization that asked you to lead the workshop. Try to avoid junk foods.
Be prepared for the unexpected
Most workshops will run smoothly. After all, the participants presumably want to be there and want to learn. However, there might be scenarios where somebody is unwilling to participate or might be insulting to a colleague. Be professional no matter what, and encourage respectful behavior by modeling respectful behavior. Be clear in what you expect from your participants. If you have a participant who is acting up or trying to bully a colleague, consider speaking privately with that person. Emphasize the importance of what you are teaching, and tell them that you expect adult, professional behavior from them.
Conclude the workshop with a summary of what they have learned
Explain everything that your participants have learned over the course of the session. This will help emphasize how far they have come and what new skills they have acquired. Refer explicitly to the objectives you laid out at the beginning of the workshop, and explain how you think the participants have met those objectives.
Design an evaluation form that your participants can fill out in the last few minutes of the workshop. Be sure that you leave them with enough time to comment and consider your questions carefully. Immediate feedback not only will help you improve your workshop but will also help reinforce the learning your participants have undertaken.