Planning to launch a workshop? Unsure about how to begin the process? Here's a handy guide to workshop planning. In this guide, you will learn how to plan, execute, and refine your workshops from start to finish. So let's get into the nitty-gritty of things.
The general rule of thumb for workshop planning is purpose> practicalities> participants> products> process> principles. This order begins by determining your primary purpose for the workshop. The WHY question. Why do you want to launch this workshop? And so what are the gains that you are hoping to get? That is, you start by addressing the basics.
Once you have your motivations down and you know your reasons for the event, you can start to materialize it. This is where you focus on who to include, the target participants, your products or services, and most importantly, how you will be delivering them.
See also: How to start a successful online school.
What to know before planning a workshop?
A good practice when embarking on such a project is to keep in mind that it is just 'your' workshop. Rather, it is more the workshop of and for the participants you are hoping to target. So when you sit down to design it, think of the learners first. Think about their needs, their outcomes, and pain points. That is not to say that you entirely forsake yourself. Obviously, any successful workshop is an interplay of self-work and co-designing with stakeholders.
Another vital thing to note is that if you have other stakeholders involved in the process - facilitators, clients, sponsors, etc - get them on the page. Hold a comprehensive meeting with them to set clear terms for the workshop. It will provide you with a structure, to begin with, and save you from any disagreements later on.
Lastly, remind yourself that any work is made much easier when we break it down into smaller sections. Seeing the whole picture is necessary for understanding the extent of things. However, by breaking it down into phases, you are better able to tackle them and accomplish the desired outcomes.
For the purpose of workshop planning, John Croft, the educationist, and creator, offers a great strategy. It is called Dragon Dreaming and is the structure for planning in four phases. The four phases are Vision, design, act, and learning.
Each phase has a certain purpose and at the end requires a sort of checkpoint with the clients to measure the effectiveness of workshop building. In the next section, we go over each of these phases in greater detail.
Workshop planning in phases
Phase 1: Vision
This phase is all about setting an agenda from an abstract idea. It is here you start asking questions about how to realize the ideas you have.
A good place to start planning is by defining the main objectives and intentions for the workshop. What do you expect and what do the learners expect, etc. From here on you can get to drafting an agenda. Know that much like with any kind of planning, you will not end up with the final draft straight away. It will require much negotiation and meetings before you settle on the final draft. But most importantly, maintain communication flow and follow-up along the way.
Here are the basics of this phase:
- Communicate your intentions - Negotiate with the stakeholders, and remain clear about non-negotiables and the outcomes.
- Define the target audience - Who is the workshop for? Create a persona by reaching out to potential participants and getting to know them more.
- Drafting the contents - What goes in the workshop? Who will speak? What methods to apply? A general overview of objectives, description of activities, and outcomes.
- Making agreements - Get the stakeholders on board and sign any MOUs or agreements to finalize the workshop.
Once you have these foundational things sorted, it is time to proceed with the material side of things.
Phase 2: Design
The designing phase is where you take your finalized ideas and begin to break them down into doable steps. It is where you make your vision come to life. In general, it is about making it happen. Think of all that goes into materializing any event. You need to set the dates, finalize the venue, reach out to the participants, etc.
So, first off, you start by where you will organize it. Since we are planning an online workshop, so instead of a physical venue we require online hosting platforms. For instance, Teachfloor lets its users organize online live workshops that can be scheduled and notified easily. Since it is online, people can also access it from anywhere.
Here are the basics for this phase:
- Select a workshop hosting platform
- Create an activity timeline - Finalize the activities to include and how to sequence them.
- Find a team - Decide who to include in your workshop team to make it happen.
- Create communication plans - Determine the mechanisms for informing people about the workshop. Create a buzz! Inform them where to sign up and when the workshop starts.
Phase 3: Action
Finally, it is time to get your hands dirty and get the workshop up and running. After much planning and preparation, start by acting on them and assembling the workshop. Set the dates, schedule the events, and send out the invites. Check last time before going live if everything is in place and needs any final approval. Once you are certain about everything, take a seat and roll with it.
This time can get pretty stressful. Therefore, make sure to include some stress management practices in your routine. Mediate, and take time for yourself. Most of all, believe in all the hard work you put in.
Phase 4: Learn
The work doesn't end with the final remarks at the workshop. In fact, it goes beyond it. After the workshop is done, it is time to engage in constructive dialogue and receive feedback. Reach out to the participants and ask them for their reflections on the workshop.
Once you have the feedback, it is time to analyze it. The recommended way of doing it is by making reports. You can have two reports. One for record keeping on the workshop (summary of the contents, participant data, etc). The second is for reflections and improvements for future workshops.
One last thing to do before you conclude the workshop is to make sure to get the participants to sign up for the mailing list. You can offer them extra learning materials and send them their certificates. Moreover, they will stay notified about any upcoming events from you.
Workshop planning with Teachfloor
You can make the entire process of workshop planning much less daunting and more efficient with the help of Teachfloor. Not only is it a learning platform, but it can also help you with much more. With its scheduling feature, you can automate notifications for the workshop.
Another handy feature is the curriculum builder which you can use slightly differently for your workshop - it can help with sequencing and structuring your workshop so participants have an overview of each section. Here's a little sneak peek of what it looks like:
Additionally, it will also take care of your enrollments. Participants can easily sign up from the landing page and get privy to the necessary details of the workshop. And for effective follow-up, Teachfloor's discussion feature lets participants share their comments with each other. Thereby, helping you offer a well-rounded workshop experience.
Workshop planning can seem like a tricky task but with these strategies, it is made much easier. In four simple steps, you can design an impactful workshop that is sure to win your audience over. So, folks, this is how you plan a successful workshop.