Planning a workshop is an already huge and challenging task. Planning a good one is even a different story. It takes focus, organization, and a ton of creativity. The truth is that some people hate going to workshops. If done wrong, workshops can be a huge waste of not only time and effort but also money. If planned well, however, workshops can be incredibly valuable and enriching for every single person involved.
The best workshops involve brainstorming, building connections, interactive learning, problem-solving, skill development, and so much more. Integrating such important aspects require advance planning. Before you bust out tools and equipment such as your clay and wheel (if you are organizing as pottery workshop), durable busbar bending and punching machine (if you are arranging an electrical workshop for switchboard builders), or simply organizing your PowerPoint presentation, here are some tips to consider:
Define your goals
As with every workshop, you must be able to develop a goal. Should you offer to help improve the hiring process? Do you need to develop a workshop focusing on improving skills needed for the electric industry? Is a team building necessary for a new team? Oftentimes, workshops go to waste because of the lack of clear goal. Without it, there’s no point in inviting people to get together.
Decide who will be your attendees
Your attendees should be directly proportional to your workshop objective. For instance, if your goal is to improve certain practices for a specific company, then the attendees should consist of only key people. If your goal is to educate and disseminate information, inviting a larger group should be in order. To help you decide better, make a list of who you believe should be there. Try to be specific as you possibly can, but leave some openings for any last-minute decisions and additions.
Choose the right location
If you have only nine attendees, then the company’s conference room will do just fine. If you have more than fifty people attending, however, looking for an outside location should be on your list of priorities. It is essential that you analyze all the practical details and logistics involved in your workshop, especially when choosing a location. Will everyone be able to reach the venue? Will your visual aids be clearly seen, or is there a strong enough Wi-Fi connection? Do catering facilities exist in the location? Whatever the case, knowing the details of the physical place is crucial.
Determine your agenda
As soon as you’ve built your primary objective and the attendee list, determining your agenda is next in order. Here, you should build an outline of the entire workshop:
- Main points – What should be discussed?
- Visual aids – How will you be presenting your ideas?
- Discussions and activities – Should you arrange group discussions and activities at some point during the workshop? What is the time frame? Do you have the necessary resources?
Keep this in mind: the more detailed your plan is, the higher the chance that your workshop becomes successful.
Make a follow-up plan
You may have been able to deliver your workshop. People attended, activities were enacted, key speakers talked – it ran smoothly. Was it successful, though? The only way to truly determine this is through an effective follow-up plan. Develop a questionnaire to hand out to participants at the end of the event. Give them an avenue to voice out their opinions.
This bit is hard and terrifying, especially since you’ve worked hard to make this workshop idea come to life. But this is the only way to learn and improve, especially since future workshops will still be necessary. Moreover, ensure that the feedback reaches everyone involved.
From everything discussed, there’s no doubt now that planning a successful workshop involves so much time and effort. Spending time working and thinking through the details, however, will ensure that everyone finds value from the event. And that’s exactly what workshops should be about—learning and growing.