1. Define the Goals

Every workshop must have a clear goal.

Many workshops are a waste of time because there's no clear goal kept at the center of the discussion. Without this clear goal, there's really no point in getting people together.

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Planning a Workshop: Organizing and Running a Successful Event

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2. Decide Who Will Attend

Knowing who will attend directly relates to your objective.

For example, if your workshop's goal is to develop a detailed solution to a problem, then you probably want 10 or fewer key attendees.

If your goal is centered on education, then you might be happy with a much larger group, which divides into smaller groups for discussion.

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3. Choose the Right Location

If you have 10 attendees, then the conference room down the hall will probably be just fine. But if you have 50 people, you may have to find an outside location that's large enough.

Think about the logistics and practical details of your workshop when you choose the location.

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4. Create an Agenda
  • Main points – Create a list of main points to discuss, and then break down each larger point into details that you want to communicate to your audience.
  • Visual aids – List the visual aids, if any, you'll use for each point.
  • Discussions and activities – Take time to list exactly which group discussions and activities you'll have at which point in the workshop.

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5. Develop a Follow-up Plan

The only way to find out if your workshop was a success is to have an effective follow-up plan. Create a questionnaire to give to all participants at the end of the event, and give them plenty of opportunities to share their opinions on how well it went.

It's also important to have a plan to communicate the decisions that were reached during the workshop.

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During the Workshop – Getting People Involved

Once you have a solid advance plan, figure out how to bring some excitement into your event. Getting everyone involved is key to a successful workshop.

If you stand up and talk for three hours, you're just giving a lecture – not facilitating a workshop. Everyone needs to participate.

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Overall Workshop Tips

Here are some more ideas for running a successful workshop:

  • If you plan the meeting, you may want to facilitate it as well.
  • Be sure to establish the objective of your meeting or session.
  • Start the meeting with a few icebreakers  to get everyone relaxed and comfortable.
  • If your workshop's goal is to address a difficult or sensitive topic, it's especially important to get the group comfortable before starting.

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Key Points

There's no doubt that planning a great workshop is a lot of work. But if you spend time thinking through the details, everyone will get full value from the event.

The workshop's goal should be at the center of all your planning. Creative exercises will get everyone relaxed and involved, and don't forget to follow up afterward: although it can be scary to hear what people really thought of all your hard work, it's the only way you'll improve your next event.

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