Nothing is better than a workshop that delivers results that are actually implemented by the participants. Voluntarily. And with dedication. Short term. So that the results can be felt in the company. But too often the after-effects of workshops are disappointing for the participants – and also for the bosses. We give you five simple components that will make your next workshop more successful for you and the other participants.
For a moment just forget the confusing task lists in Excel, unwieldy photo reports in Powerpoint and of course the beautifully painted “Welcome” flipchart, which the workshop moderator has positioned at the front door of the workshop room. These tools are certainly useful and important when it comes to designing workshops. But their effect often fades away the very second the workshop participants have left the room.
We need more digital tools in the workshop! Really?
Quick calls for the latest startup products and their apps are very common. Please all use this one app. But only this one, not the other one. Because it is the best. Only with this we can all do our jobs.
Doesn’t work? Of course not! At least not immediately or universally. Because powerful teams need more than tools and processes that are respected by everyone. The most important variable for successful results of a workshop is an atmosphere in which a positive attitude is supported by all participants. Positive towards the other workshop participants, towards the intentions of the workshop and also positive beyond the workshop. Because the results and tasks should finally be implemented afterwards.
Analog tools can have strong effects
So let’s create an atmosphere in which we can increase the success of workshops dramatically. This works best with analog tools. It even works when trying them out for the first time. Furthermore the measures are very simple. Here are our five tips for your next workshop:
1 – Start with a checkin
Before you start the workshop, you should do a checkin. It is best to form a circle while sitting or standing. This way all participants can see each other. Each participant then answers the same question with a few words one after the other. For example, the following questions are particularly useful for a checkin:
- What is going on in your head that the other participants should know?
- What gives you a lot of strength and is it a lot of fun for you?
- How did our last meeting affect you and what has changed in your work afterwards?
So choose a question for your checkin and give it in turn to the workshop group. When you all have answered the question, you can start the workshop.
2 – Limit group sizes to 4-7 people
The larger groups become, the less all group members can engage in discussions and group tasks – at least in most workshops. We often observe in groups of 8 or more participants that the group divides into several subgroups, thus slowing down the progress of the tasks that are being carried out.
So let your workshop participants know that they can get good results by limiting the group size.
3 – Define and distribute roles
In workshops, there are various tasks that need to be worked on: keeping schedules, record to-do’s, observe participants, etc. When you think about it, the task list for a moderator gets longer and longer easily. You can never take care of everything on your own. And certainly you can’t take care of everything at the same time during a workshop.
Of course this is also how your participants are doing. In order to be able to handle the workshop tasks well, you should assign your tasks to different roles. Frequently the following standard roles prove themselves:
- Moderator – moderates discussions, work phases,
- Timekeeper – makes sure that the given times for working on tasks in the group are met
- Observer – has an eye on the group and maybe on what happens between the lines
- Scribe – notes what is said for documentation (for example on sticky notes during a brainstorming session)
These are just a few examples of possible roles in workshops. Of course, when designing and defining your roles, you are completely free. However, make sure that they fit the tasks in the workshop. The participants should also get along well with the roles. Just try out your role ideas. Later you can use the feedback from the workshop participants to adjust them step by step in further workshops.
4 – Give silent people a chance
There are people who like to think about a task or a question for a while. Only after having been able to think they feel ready to release their thoughts and share their insights. Especially introverted people prefer to think inside their heads. They usually talk about their ideas less intensively with other people. In contrast, extroverts love a more intense verbal interaction with other people to get results.
Neither of these behaviors is superior to the other. However, the quieter, introverted thinkers often get bogged down when extroverts engage in discussion battles. As a result, their thoughts and ideas are lost for the group, although they would certainly provide a valuable contribution.
So give your quieter workshop participants a chance by giving them a space to think. They should not be disturbed in their thinking during a certain time frame. For this you can allow a few minutes of silence at the beginning of a workshop task. All participants should have pen and paper at hand. So they can record their thoughts on the task.
When the silence phase is over, the discussion can be opened – moderated, of course. So you better support both characters, introvers and extrovers, to get involved in the tasks.
5 – Finish with a checkout
Similar to the checkin, you are all standing in a circle at the end of the workshop. Then you all answer the same single question one after the other. Use only a few words in your answer and ensure that each participant can answer.
For example, your question might be:
- Is there anything in today’s workshop that we should do next time?
- What are you thinking about at the end of this workshop?
- What will you do differently after this workshop than before?
Just start and get better bit by bit
As you can see our five tips are pretty simple. Nevertheless, start slowly if you want to improve your workshops. Maybe you start your next workshop with a checkin and finish it with a checkout. No other changes. In the next workshop, you can then make sure that roles are defined and distributed. By this and step by step you can introduce our five tips into your workshops and thus get better results from time to time.
Have you already had experiences with our tips? Share your experiences in a comment below and give the other readers an insight into what our suggestions have done in your workshops!
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