Week ending on February 23rd, 2018
Content Covered: Deep Dive into Workshop Structure
Workshops: A Case Study
In the past sixteen or so months, I’ve had the privilege of hosting a few different types of workshops. My material is nowhere near finalized or even remotely comprehensive (it is as they say a work in progress). Nonetheless, today I’d like to share a bit about the process of preparing for a workshop and then talk a little bit about the actual execution.
Whether by choice or circumstance, I shall let you decide – I’ve been working primarily with STEM students.. and I kind of like it (more on this when we get into audience types).
The workshops that I’ve held till date utilize an older version of the triquetra framework (as you can see below it used to be more of a quadquetra … why did I change the framework? Because simplicity is elegance.)
The old framework was largely adapted from Daniel Goleman’s Books: Emotional Intelligence, 1995 & Social Intelligence, 2006.
Preparation of Content
Preparing for anything always starts with a bit of research. And my research starts with visiting my Workflowy… See the thing is: I’m also a voraxious reader (pun intended) and I love reading literature. In the past two years I’ve read and taken notes from over sixty books. Why all the effort? I call it indexing my brain – visually.
I like being able to reference material, not only to cross-check my facts – for fun but also to be able to create parallels between say quantum mechanics and the state of human nature: which both consist of incredible amounts of uncertainty.
Aside from Workflowy I also use the aid of Microsoft Excel to plan, a Visio web equivalent called Lucidchart for my diagrams, and Prezi for my presentations. Additionally, I create handouts to give to the participants to supplement the workshop, I create a Discussion Sheet for me to use (this is all the technical things like rules, timings, insights I need to mention etc.) and I outline a recap/insight email that I will send either an hour or so after the workshop or the next morning.
Content in Execution
Below is a high level recap of the five workshops that I’ve held in the past sixteen or so months. For simplicity, I’ve taken out a lot of the details that I embed in the structure and under each activity to help things go smoothly.
This past Tuesday I held the last workshop for the ISMA 2018 Series; so divining into that workshop’s content would be a bit more complex since I’d have to walk you through all three parts: Awareness, Presence and Impact for you to understand why it was a series and how the material fits together. So instead, let me first introduce you to the importance of the structure:
As you may have noticed, most workshops follow a similar format; setting the expectation, activities & debrief, reflections round table, and wrap up & insights. When deciding on the structure of content, I pay attention to how to: hook, engage and deliver impact; let’s dive a little deeper to see how:
Setting the Expectation: Displaying the first slide of the presentation, which has the name of the workhop and, and before introducing who I am, I ask: What are you hoping to learn today? (This question can be reframed as: what are your goals for this workshop, what do you think of when I say communication, etc.) The intention is: I am interested in knowing why each individual is attending the workshop. This gives them a chance to articulate the primary filter through which they will be processing all the material that we will be discussing; and it gives me, the facilitator, a chance to cater directly to the wants that were identified.
Then I introduce who I am, the agenda for the evening, provide other relevant data, and discuss the framework under which we will be working. This gives them the big picture, and an idea of what to expect in the next few hours.
Activities & Debriefs: There are around three to four activities for a two hour workshop; and each activity reinforces the theme of that workshop. After each activity there is a debrief; this is where the magic is at. Debriefs are the primary opportunity for the facilitator to ask the participants exploratory questions to tie back in the concept that they just experienced in the activity to applications in their everyday life, I call this updating your baseline.
Reflection Round Table: The entire workshop is wrapped up with a short 5 minute reflection where the two primary questions are: what have you been doing that you will continue, and what is something new that you’ve learned today that you would like to add. We then go around the circle and everyone shares what they have written. The intent behind this is to reflectively and verbally allow participants to acknowledge what they have learned and are taking away; it’s a form of anchoring to the material that they have just been exposed to.
Wrap Up & Insights: And finally after the reflection, I wrap up the workshop. Drawing insights from all the activities and what was shared.
Perhaps now you can begin to understand a bit better what a workshop actually looks like. I find it incredibly stimulating to put material together and then facilitate so that others may take away a new piece of insight.
I do have a lot to learn when it comes to tying things together, and the complexity of some of the activities, as well as how to cater to different audience types and sizes. But I think I’ve learned a lot this past few months… and surely and intentionally I am nudging my way forward!