How to Facilitate a Workshop
Is Workshop Facilitation the same as running a workshop?
Workshop facilitation involves both the planning and running of a workshop. Facilitation means that you take on responsibility for the end-to-end conduct of a workshop and it can be quite an undertaking if you have not facilitated one before.
Well-run workshops are deceptively simple. Planning and organisation are critical alongside focus and creativity. The aim of the workshop should be productivity, creativity, and most importantly relevance. Everyone is busy these days, so it is not a good idea to pull people into a workshop that lacks relevance –or its sister – focus!
Poorly run workshops will have a damaging effect for all future workshop plans and can create negative WOM that can stay in the business a long time, especially for senior stakeholders. Some people just hate going to workshops because they have been in poorly run or imagined workshops that lead to a huge waste of time, money, and energy.
There are many different types of workshops from simple brainstorming get togethers that might entail 1-3 hours, or more complex workshops that might span several days and include keynote speakers, offsites, creative tasks and tools and many other aspects.
The first stage of facilitating a workshop is identifying what type of workshop you need. Some different types are included below:
- Vision and Mission building workshops
- Innovation design or ideation workshops
- Brand development workshops
- Community and Stakeholder engagement workshops
- Brainstorming sessions
- Business and strategic planning workshops
- Product or concept development workshops
- Training workshops
- Team building workshops or offsites.
- And many more…
Each style of workshop will command its own separate agenda, preparation, and planning dynamics.
Planning the Workshop
Prior to conducting the workshop, you need a plan.
- Define the goals to provide a specific purpose for the workshop. Without an aim and objectives, the workshop could be a waste of time. For instance, is the workshop to help create a new product pipeline for Brand X, or bond new and old team members, or create community engagement?
- Create an attendees list. Create the list against your objectives. Workshops should not be a political exercise and size does matter. Only those who can substantially contribute in a relevant way should attend and the group should be fit for purpose. For example, if the goal of your workshop is to bond new team members, then only those relevant to the team should attend. If your goal is to develop an NPD pipeline, then you might want people from marketing, sales, and R&D and the design or advertising agency who can then split into subgroups to ideate. If your goal is solving a detailed problem, then keep the group small and focused.
- Venue and Logistics The size and purpose of your workshop will dictate the size of the space. Big innovation or ideation workshops need big spaces so people can spread out, create mini workshop groups and put-up lots of outputs on the walls. Smaller groups could be held in a room on-site. It is equally important to think about the need for visual aids, teleconferencing, workshop wall space, blue tack, and catering. Everyone seems to get hungry when they are thinking.
- Developing a Workshop Agenda With the primary goals, logistics and participants sorted out, you can plan the agenda and timings.
- Create a list of key points to cover over the session.
- Split into tasks, discussion sessions and breaks.
- Create fun activities to remove boredom and get people thinking out of the box.
- Consider homework or pre reading tasks to be sent prior.
- Time everything and ensure you have all the workshop tools you need.
The important elements of facilitating a workshop lie in the planning and development. The actual moderation of the workshop is an entirely different set of skills and you may benefit from bringing in an expert who knows how to get people norming, storming and performing. This is a specialist skillset and something Ruby Cha Cha skilled workshop facilitators can help you with.