How to Put Together Plans for a Workshop - dummies

By Jessica Pryce-Jones, Julia Lindsay

Part of Running Great Meetings & Workshops For Dummies Cheat Sheet

You don’t want to just show up for a workshop and wing it. It’s important to think about a few particular things before your participants start to arrive:

  1. Think through the purpose of your workshop.

    You must be able to answer the question ‘Why are we all getting together?’ in one sentence. This will help steer you towards your outcomes.

  2. Articulate the outcomes for everyone attending.

    If you are planning a half-day workshop or full-day workshop, you should be able to clearly outline three to five outcomes you will have achieved by the end of the session.

  3. Make a project plan and outline everything you need to do and by when so that you can see what tasks you need to get done.

    Download a sample project plan.

  4. Work out who your stakeholders are and what they need to know.

  5. Connect with your stakeholders to find out how much consulting and communication with you they want and then work out how you will follow through on this.

    Make sure you are clear about decisions, timings and any impact that delays might have.

  6. Leave enough time to do your design.

    It’s easy to short-change this and put yourself under too much pressure. Moreover, it’s rarely right the first time. Your design should include

    • Knowing where you will hold the workshop: The space can affect activities you plan.

    • Thinking through all the activities you want to include: Think about timings, objectives of each activity and any materials you’ll need. Remember to balance what you do for interest and energy. You don’t want to plan two similar activities in a row or keep everyone sitting for hours.

    • Plan all the workshop’s activities on a one-pager to start with. This should include rough timings, objectives and any materials you need to prepare.

    • Write up a detailed running order. This will help you remember the overall process and mean you can run a similar session more easily at a later date. You can also download a sample running order.

  7. Write your Joining Instructions (invitation to attend) for participants.

    Send these out well in advance, including them as a calendar invitation if you can. If you can’t, send the Joining Instructions out again the night before. Include logistics, outcomes, your contact details and any dress code. Before you press Send, remember to check one final time for typos and mistakes.

  8. Allow yourself enough time to rehearse what you will say.

    If you want to be fluent, you need to practise the words. That means saying them aloud. Schedule at least a couple of hours to rehearse the day before and make sure you focus on the start, when pressure is high. Then focus on any difficult instructions, so you can clearly explain what participants need do to. The rest will be plain sailing.

  9. Build a slide deck that’s got lots of white space.

    Don’t overload it with writing and do make it visually appealing. The images you use will say something about you; what do you want that to be?