Workshops can last a few hours or extend over several days. The
number of participants can range from a dozen to the hundreds. It
all depends upon the area, the resource, the purpose for the workshop
and people’s invested interests.
During a workshop,
real work gets accomplished. For instance, an issues and goal-setting
workshop might have as its purpose to develop a workable strategy
for the project that incorporates the views of community members,
businesses, and government officials. The workshop would begin with
instruction or training about what is going to be accomplished and
how. The attendees are given background information, and what the
impetus is for hosting the workshop and then they will get to work.
Their work might be to review a report and decide upon recommendations
or brainstorm ideas for actions.
workshops, keep in mind:
- There must
be a clear purpose, with clear tasks that will accomplish that
will need coaching on how information will be generated and recorded.
groups should be no larger than 15 and every group needs a facilitator.
needs to listen to and respect other’s perspectives and opinions.
1. Form a small planning group
key players to start planning a workshop. Brainstorm topics, formats,
and schedule. Also discuss learning objects, desired outcomes, and
follow-up. Then define the purpose and create an agenda. This group
may be comprised of members from an organization that will be hosting
the event and those who will help facilitate.
2. Do Logistics
- Select a
date and time that is going to be convenient (i.e., evenings or
weekends, not on a holiday).
- Find a place
that is large enough for the expected crowd including separate
areas for breakout groups. Possibilities include community centers,
places or worship, conference centers and hotels. A place with
low or no cost is usually desireable.
key individuals and organizations to invite and decide how to
invite them (e.g., phone, mailed invitation, speaking at their
groups’ meetings, etc.). Then make invitations with as much notice
as possible supplying details such as when, length of meeting,
where it will be held (including directions) and a brief statement
of the purpose.
- Contact and
confirm attendance of special speakers such as resource experts,
elected officials, and government agencies.
and ask facilitators. Make contingency plans for having the largest
group possible and estimate the number of small groups and thus
the number of facilitators.
any visual aids that will help discussions such as a slide show
or an enlarged map of the area being discussed.
- Arrange for
refreshments and food, if it will be served. This is a good area
to get others involved in.
- Obtain supplies
needed for information gathering and reporting such as easels,
flipcharts, pens, colored dots, sticky pads, tape, audiovisual
- Write out
any guidelines or expectations for behavior; e.g., not interrupting
others, not offering judgment, etc. This list should be posted
in the meeting room.
- Make copies
of the agenda or post a large copy that everyone in the room will
be able to see.
3. Run the
While the actual
format can vary, following is a suggested agenda:
Presentation to large group (30-60 minutes) to ensure workshop
participants have a working knowledge of important information
about the project area such as important resources, current issues
or threats, opportunities, and impediments.
Sharing through Community Dialog (1-2 hours minimum) to gather
information about issues, opportunities and needs for a project.
This is done in small groups with a facilitator and recorder for
each group. Notes are taken on flipcharts and then posted on the
wall for all to see. This session culminates with a representative
from each small group reviewing their thoughts and feelings for
all of the attendees.
Action (2 hours minimum). This is when participants will generate
and agree on practical, tangible steps that are needed for the
resource. This is often referred to as a Project Action Plan.
The large group is again broken out into small groups with a facilitator
and recorder. The small groups brainstorm then prioritize their
lists of actions. Each small group shares with the large group,
and the large group comes to a consensus about the overall priorities.
- Meeting Summary
(15-30 minutes) for the large group. The day’s leading facilitator
presents a final summary of the findings, offers any appropriate
observations about the process and the experience, explains how
the information will be used and what happens next. Finally, recognize
the small group facilitators and thank all of the participants
for their time, energy and brainpower.
group should determine how results from the workshop are going to
be handled. Will they be published in a brochure or book? Will they
be submitted to a local newspaper? Will they be reviewed at another
meeting? In addition, facilitators should be thanked in writing,
as should anyone who volunteered or donated items (like food).