Thursday 20 June 2019

How do you conduct a workshop?

Consider your topic. No matter how interactive and participatory your workshop will be, you still have to have a good command of what you're presenting. That doesn't mean you have to know absolutely everything about the topic, but that you have to know a reasonable amount about it, and understand it well enough so that you can help participants fit it into the context of their own jobs and lives.
Consider your audience. Your audience, the people who will actually be part of the workshop, is probably the most important piece of the puzzle here. Understanding them and their needs will do more than anything else to help you decide what to do and how to do it.
•What do they already know?
•Do they know one another and/or work together?
•Will they come in with a particular attitude toward the workshop?
•Under what circumstances are they attending this workshop? Did they choose it from among several possibilities (as at a conference)? Did they request it? Is it part of their job (training, retraining, or staff development, for example)? Is it to learn something they absolutely need to know to do their job properly?
Consider the workshop size. If the group is an ideal size for most purposes (about 8-12) you can arrange activities that involve participants as individuals, in small groups (2-4), and in the whole group. If the group is larger than about 15, you'll probably want to split it up for many activities. If it's smaller than 7 or 8, you might be better off having the whole group work together for most of the workshop.
Consider the time available. Workshops can run from as little as an hour or less to as much as a day or even longer. It's important that your goals for the workshop match the time available.
Plan a break. Be aware that breaks always take longer than planned.
Participants need time to talk and connect with one another. The opportunity to get to know others and to exchange ideas is one of the main values of a workshop for many people, and shouldn't be shortchanged.
Consider your presentation. The style of your presentation both your personal style and the actual methods of presentation you employ will do much to determine the effectiveness of your workshop.
•Facilitation. Workshop presenters are often referred to as facilitators. It's called a workshop because participants generally get a chance to do something, to actually interact on their own terms with what's being presented.
•Consistency of presentation and the workshop's theme. Your method and style of presentation should, to the largest extent possible, mirror the topic. If you're conducting a workshop on active education, for example, it should be experiential, not a lecture.
•Direct involvement of participants. Workshops are much more effective and enjoyable if they involve participants in activities, discussion, and interaction with others, than if they merely shower people with information.
•Things to take home. Make sure participants get print copies of any handouts or slides that contain important information.
•Reflection time. Reflection is the key to learning. Include time to ask participants to reflect on or discuss each activity.
Find out about the space you'll be using, if possible. You need to think about how you'll use the space: Will people need to move around a lot? Do you need a screen or a blackboard or whiteboard?
Bring everything you need.
Don't forget about food, coffee, etc., if you're providing them or having them provided.
Be overprepared. If you think a block of the workshop will probably last 30 minutes, be ready with at least an hour's worth of material for it. In some groups, you may only use what you thought would take 15 minutes; in others, you may use all of it and wish you had more. It's far better to be overprepared than underprepared.
Make up an evaluation form that people can fill out quickly at the end of the workshop, but that covers the areas you really want to know about.
Finally, get a good night's sleep the night before and allow yourself plenty of time to get where you're going, so you don't feel rushed and frazzled.
A workshop, especially a longer one, has distinct phases.
This part of the workshop will let people know what their experience is going to be like. It's important to set a positive tone and to make people feel comfortable and interested.
Agenda and plan for the session. It's helpful to either hand out, or to have visible in the room, and to go over with participants, an agenda for the workshop
This is also the time to ask people for their expectations for the workshop, which can be recorded on flipcharts or in some other way, and reviewed at the end of the session. If some of them are significantly different from the agenda you should adapt it or be honest and say they won’t be met.
Substance of the workshop
•Keep track of time. This doesn't mean that you should be a slave to your agenda, but rather that you should be adaptable depending on how the workshop is going.
Try to present material in a number of different ways. This helps to keep participants involved. It also caters to different learning styles, and makes it more likely that everyone in the workshop will be able to grasp the material.
•Try to be, and to make your activities, entertaining.
•Be enthusiastic.
•Encourage participants to relate the workshop content to their reality.
•Allow ample time for reflection and discussion in all activities.
•Revisit expectations. Take a look at that list of expectations from the beginning of the workshop. Were people's initial expectations met?
•Give participants a chance to sum up. This could be as simple as asking "What did you think?" or it could involve a more structured exercise.
•Collect evaluation forms. Make sure you get one from everybody.
•If you agreed to send anything to participants you should do it as soon as possible.
•Go through the evaluations and your feedback notes soon after the workshop. What do most people think you might have done differently? What areas seemed particularly strong or particularly weak? This is the moment to think about what you'll change the next time you conduct a workshop.

Adapted from:

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