Workshop Planning: How to Design and Conduct an Effective Workshop

Marketing team having a workshop inside an office; workshop planning concept

Workshop planning is a big job. It takes commitment, hard work, and creativity for it to be effective. And how well you plan and prepare will determine the success of your workshop. 

Whether you are an experienced event planner or just starting in the industry, or maybe you are part of the training staff in your company, this step-by-step guide will help you prepare and manage an effective and successful workshop.

What is a Workshop

A workshop is somewhat similar to a conference and seminar in that it aims to educate attendees on a specific topic and develop a particular skill. It is a smaller gathering in comparison with a conference but it’s more hands-on.

This means that in workshops, attendees don’t only listen but they are able to apply what they have learned and hone their skills by participating in certain exercises and activities. 

Why Conduct a Workshop

Planning workshops are fundamental to companies and organizations. It is instrumental in making sure that a company or an organization is clear about its objectives and what its team must be doing in attaining those objectives. Yet company objectives frequently evolve to enhance its products and services.

As companies or organizations evolve, the need to update theories and upgrade work processes to teams arises. In response to this, a workshop is organized. Through workshops, companies and organizations can launch new ideas and concepts to improve products and services. And encourage their team to explore this new idea in practical ways.

Aside from solving problems to improve products and services, workshops are also an effective strategy to train and upgrade your employees. By hiring top experts in your industry, you are able to hone your employees’ abilities and unlock their potential.

Why Planning and Conducting a Workshop is Exciting

Even if workshops are a little bit more complex than other educational events (you need to construct action-centered activities and exercises), it is most rewarding knowing that you’d be able to help your company. If you are an in-house planner for an organization, you are planning this corporate event to help solve a specific organization’s problem.

Fun networking and exhilarating education are great, but the most exciting of all is knowing that through intensive experiential learning and practice of new concepts you will be equipping attendees and employees with the capabilities that will make them more productive and valuable.

Importance of Comprehensive Workshop Plan

Workshops may differ based on topic, size, and goal but whatever the objective may be, the need to have a comprehensive plan is necessary for everyone involved. In fact, a comprehensive workshop plan creates a road map for you and your planning team to be on track in achieving not only your workshop goals but the goals for the whole business as well. 

A comprehensive workshop plan also gives you a structured guide that allows you to foresee potential problems before they could even arise. Thus, a comprehensive workshop plan is crucial for workshop planning to be successful.

Steps and tips for workshop planning

To make your planning less overwhelming, less stressful, and more successful follow these steps to plan and design an effective workshop.

Before the workshop

  • Know the topic

As a workshop planner having a general understanding is vital to effective workshop planning. Do your research to get a good understanding of the topic of the workshop. Knowing enough about the topic will help you anticipate or understand what might be needed for the workshop to go well.

For example, if the workshop topic is medical-related, then will they need anatomy models, or medical professionals, or peers to participate in or proctor exams? If the workshop is for writers, will everyone need a desk and access to electricity to power their devices and internet access?

  • Determine intention and goals

Identify what you wanted to achieve in the workshop. Is the goal team building with the new hires? Is it to improve workflow? Perhaps it is to refresh employees? Or is it to improve the hiring procedure?

A good objective and goal should be a response to the organization’s existing problem or ongoing maintenance and training such as continuing education. 

  • Target audience

Getting to know your audience is directly related to your goal. Who will attend the workshop, what are their existing problems that you need to solve, and what do they expect from the workshop? If you understand these you’d be able to design the workshop according to their needs.

  • Gather your team

A team will help lighten up the load of the planning workshop. If the workshop is in-house, find volunteers from your colleagues. By getting them involved the topic and activities should be more targeted at their demands and expectations. However, you should bear in mind that this will count as extra work for them and some may not be able to commit.

In this case, you can always outsource. Outsourcing will allow you to work with experts which will get the job excellently done. It will also allow employees to dedicate their whole time and energy to the workshop itself.

  • Set up a budget

As one of the most important elements of an event, a budget proposal should be thorough and as accurate as possible. Make a list of all the things you’d need for the workshop; venue rental, equipment needed, materials for activities, logistics, guest speakers, etc.

  • Choose a location

Choose the right location according to the size of your workshop. Look for a venue that has enough space for everyone to move around with plenty of space for you to set up the pieces of equipment needed for the workshop.

  • Design a communication plan

Make sure that the news of the workshop reaches your target audience if stakeholders have not provided you with a list of attendees. Think about how you will be able to reach your target participants. Answer the question, how will they hear of the workshop? How can they attend? Why will they attend? And how can they sign up?

Event Espresso is a great event management software that allows you to send out custom emails to your target attendees. You can automate sending invitations, reminders and even thank you emails.

  • Design Agenda

Now that all the basics of planning have been set up, schedule your workshop agenda by giving the prime spot to the keynote speaker. Second, insert activities that are related to the topic. Next, strategically schedule breaks. Finally, set a time allotment for different features of the workshop such as certain activities for the participants.

Facilitators make sure the agenda is realized, that’s why selecting the right workshop facilitator is critical. An excellent facilitator must know how to read the atmosphere of the room and be able to make necessary shifts in the mood and feedback from attendees. Their job is important, especially in making sure that attendees aren’t bored or unattentive. Their instincts and expertise accelerate experiential and interactive learning of the theories being taught and help participants apply these theories to their work and life.

Some helpful tips

  • Sign agreements if you are not an in-house workshop planner to avoid assumptions and miscommunication. In your contract, set proper expectations with your stakeholders.
  • Make signing up for the workshop easy. You can partner with Event Espresso for automated workshop registration, ticket limits, and seating capacity. Event Espresso automated registration is easy to use and participant friendly.
  • Provide a downloadable barcode or QR code for participants to present on the day of the workshop after signing up.
  • If you are doing a virtual workshop, make sure you include in your communication plan to inform participants which tool will be used for the workshop.
  • Learn from the competition. This will help you evaluate whether your services stand out from your rivals. And whether the plans you ideated are profitable.
  • Consider partners. If you are doing the workshop for a nonprofit or for students, suggest having sponsorships for the workshop.
Group of employees sitting in a circle for a workshop session

Workshop session

During the workshop

  • Agenda of the workshop:
  • Workshop rules – After welcoming the keynote speaker, guests, and participants, set rules for the workshop. After doing so, lay down workshop expectation outcomes.
  • Information – The next part of the workshop should be the presentation and teaching of theories by keynote speakers or by an expert on the topic.
  • Integration of information – After learning of the theories is the implementation of theories. This part will be the various activities that participants can practically apply what they have learned.
  • Takeaways, learnings, reflection – If time permits, you can have a few volunteers share their takeaways from the workshop. They can even share their plans to implement the things they have learned.
  • Distribution of certificates – Give different certificates to those involved. If you have multiple schedules for the same workshop, have this pre-determined during their online registration for easier handling of certificates. 

Some helpful tips

  • Select the best time for the keynote speaker assuming the person is always busy when setting the schedule.
  • If the workshop doesn’t run for the whole day, schedule it in the morning when participants are more active.
  • If it is the whole day, schedule theories to be taught in the morning and schedule activities in the afternoon.
  • Give participants time to interact with each other and be able to share their knowledge.
  • Offer practical activities to help participants apply theories learned to their specific tasks at work or their daily life.
  • Don’t try to fit everything into the schedule, leave allowances for questions and answers.
  • Strategically schedule breaks to save time. If the workshop is virtual, take care of time and music during break times.
  • Design various engaging activities to keep the attention of participants. Participants are more likely to stay tuned if they are involved.
  • Prepare icebreakers to warm up participants and to help them feel welcome.

After the workshop

  • Collect feedback through a questionnaire

This is a great way for you to know which work best and which activities didn’t, reflecting on your failures and success will help you do differently on your next project.

  • Evaluate and report outcomes

Make an analysis and assessment report of the workshop based on the workshop goals and objectives to determine whether the target outcome was achieved.

  • Create a follow-up plan

Find out how satisfied everyone is with the workshop and how much impact it made on the participants’ workflow and their life.

Some helpful tips

  • Give necessary printouts and materials as soon as the workshop ends to motivate participants to make specific action plans for the future.
  • Stay in touch. Send out emails such as articles, newsletters, and updates to participants to keep them posted on the recent progress of the workshop topic. If you are not an in-house planner, advise company HR to do this.
  • Get feedback for you to improve your services so that your next project will be better.
  • Ask for a referral, if they are satisfied with the job that you did they are more likely to refer you or to work with you again in the future. If you are an in-house trainer you might get a promotion.

Conclusive Workshop Planning Template

When I plan to achieve something; a goal, a project, or an event I always love to refer to templates. It helps me with my project as it already has a pattern for success. That’s why your workshop planning template is very helpful.

Aside from providing you with a pattern for success, templates help you speed up the workshop planning process and the implementation of your plans. Most importantly, it gives you an organized guide needed to successfully plan out your workshop event.

You may download this template if you are looking for a workshop planning template that can help you plan your next event. And as a bonus, you may also download this workshop agenda and schedule template.

Tools for Workshop Planning and Facilitation of Workshop

There are different online tools to help the planning team make data-driven decisions as you brainstorm together. Read on to see which works best for your workshop.

Meeting and agenda planning tools

Task management tools

Online whiteboard tools

Digital creative tools

Document storage and sharing tools

Note-taking and information organization tools

Innovative Workshop Activity Ideas

Interactive learning is the essence of workshops that’s why choosing activities that encourage interaction is necessary. Create activities that spur interconnection and team-building in your workshops.

Below are a few suggestions of activities you can use in your workshop.

For self-introduction:

  • Expectations for the workshop – as participants share their expectations of the workshop as they give trivia about themselves.
  • One-word description game – participants will give one word about how they feel about the topic of the workshop.
  • How well do you know the topic – helps speakers to gauge participants’ understanding by letting them share prior knowledge about the topic.

For the presentation of theories or key learnings:

  • Q and A – allow participants to ask questions for clarity. This can be done anonymously for shy participants.
  • Assessment and Pop Quiz – Group participants to encourage interaction and have a trivia game about the topic of the workshop.

For the integration of learning:

  • Hypothetically speaking – Assign groups with hypothetical questions about the topic and let them discuss and debate their answers. This is a great opportunity to find out about different perspectives on the topic.
  • Joint Doodle – Using the materials provided in the workshop; encourage everyone to make a large doodle about the topic. The facilitator may give a series of instructions as participants go along.
  • History, her story, your story, our story – Let participants write a story together using the concepts they have just learned. Start by prompting a statement and let everyone submit a sentence for the story.

For feedback gathering

  • 3, 2, 1 – Allow participants to give 3 major takeaways, 2 applications, and 1 feeling about the topic and the workshop.
  • Fast talk feedback – Do this by group and participants share their feedback or opinion for only 30 seconds.
  • One-word description – Participants must give a one-word description of the workshop.

Effectively Plan Workshops with Event Espresso

Workshop planning is a great and exciting task. For you to carry out a successful workshop you must have the right comprehensive plan, a reliable team, and valuable tools. Plus, your plan must have measurable action steps.

Ready to take on the challenge of planning and conducting a workshop? Get the job done with Event Espresso. Event Espresso is a fool-proof partner in planning workshops. It has practical and useful options for your online workshop registration with seating limits and multiple ticket options.

Best of all, its features are user-friendly and participants can sign up for your workshop with ease because it has a single-page check-out. You can even customize your workshop or event confirmation email. What are you waiting for? Try our free demo now.

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