A Pocket Guide: Effective Workshops
By Alison Coward, Founder, Bracket
Effective workshops can transform a project. They can engage and motivate a team, uncover quality insights from clients and users, and spark great ideas. But bad meetings can frustrate people, drain energy and waste time.
If your work involves collaborating with other people — which for most of us it does — you can be the one to design and run effective workshops. But where do you start?
This book demystifies the process, in five simple steps. You’ll learn what to do before, during and after to make your workshop a success. If you’ve ever had to sit through a bad team or client meeting hoping for a better way, this guide to effective workshops is for you.
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Part 1: The Why of Workshops
Before we get into the hows and whats of running workshops, it’s worth starting with the why. If you can keep coming back to the key reason that you are bringing together people to build something, you’ll be able to figure out a lot of the detail later on.
Part 2: Organising your workshop
Workshop preparation is a real design process. The good news is that this is likely something you already do in your work; you just need to apply it to a new area. You’ll think about the purpose, your attendees, and the outline, to design a session that will achieve the outcomes you’ve set out.
Part 3: Designing the workshop outline
Great facilitation often looks so effortless that people think the facilitator has just turned up on the day to “do their thing”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The best workshops are planned meticulously. Leave room for some unexpected twists and turns on the day, but having a well thought-out structure will make this less stressful.
Part 4: Facilitation
So, you’ve got a well-planned and well-designed workshop. Let’s take a look at how you’ll make it happen on the day. In this chapter, we’ll look more closely at your role as a facilitator, how you set the stage with your workshop participants, key skills for great facilitation, and how to deal with some of the challenges you might face.
Part 5: Follow-up
With a well-planned and well-facilitated workshop, everyone will leave feeling energised, having been part of a great discussion and clear on the next steps. But there’s still work to do. Gather up all the flipcharts and post-its and get ready for the all-important follow-up.
What people say…
— Lafayette Howell (@uberconsultant) July 7, 2016
— Aitor González (@riskyandfunky) February 16, 2016
— Bec Evans (@Eva_Bec) January 10, 2016
— Jon Pudny (@Pudny) November 12, 2015
— Steve Barnett (@maxbarners) November 2, 2015
About the author
Alison Coward is the founder of Bracket. She is a strategist, trainer and workshop facilitator.
With over 15 years experience of working in, leading and facilitating creative teams, Alison is passionate about finding the perfect balance between creativity and productivity.
Through Bracket, Alison has worked with a wide range of clients including Barclaycard, Etsy, Google, Channel 4, The British Library, D&AD and Trendwatching.com. She has previously held management positions in various creative organisations including the University of the Arts London, where she led the enterprise centre. Alison has a Masters degree in Enterprise and Management for the Creative Arts.