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6 Steps for Planning Successful Workshops

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A common misconception is that having a knowledgeable group of people in the same room will deliver a successful workshop. Unfortunately this is not the case, and it is the responsibility of the meeting facilitator to steer the meeting discussion to deliver the desired objectives.

Here are our best tips for planning a meeting to achieve your desired results:

 1)      Define your meeting purpose and objectives.   Start by asking “What is the purpose of this meeting?”, “What would a successful meeting achieve?”.  These objectives should be specific, measurable and focussed.

 2)      Create an invite / participation list. Who are the individuals who have the information and /or decision making authority to achieve the objective of the meeting? 

 3)      Define the roles of each attendee – by ensuring that your meeting has a definite purpose, and by assigning each attendee a responsibility, the facilitator can better manage the expectations of the meeting, and help steer the group in the right direction.  Typical roles are:  Facilitator, Meeting leader, Recorder, Administrator.

 4)       Set the Agenda.  The agenda is the structure of how the meeting will flow, putting discussion points in a logical order.  It is a guideline not set in stone and a skilled facilitator will be flexible in ensuring all the key issues are resolved.

 5)      Prepare background materials.  Ideally members should receive background materials at least one week in advance. Materials can include:  the meeting agenda, list of participants, relevant background papers or analyses members should read before the meeting starts.

 6)      Arrange the meeting space to facilitate discussion.  The arrangement of the meeting space can have a big impact on the discussion environment.  How the room is arranged will depend on the type of discussion expected.  E.g a conference style (members around a table) is a good set up to encourage interaction amongst a small committee. Conversely, a theatre or classroom style set-up is useful when there is a presentation at the front of the room and participation is expected to be minimal.

 As a consultant, a successful workshop can come in several forms – it is your responsibility to steer your meeting to achieve your desired outcome. 

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