Holding a workshop and need some best practice

Workshops are a very popular format for getting people stuck into a topic. But not all workshops are created equally.

I attended a workshop in Barcelona last week. It was a very good event. These types of events can be tricky.

It made me think about this format again and it also had some good best practice examples.

So here’s what I hope will be a great little summary of how you make the most of this format.

What is a workshop

Back in 2015 (probably after attending workshops that weren’t workshops) I wrote a post: Definition of a Workshop. Here is my take on the workshop:

“A workshop is an interactive session. The interactive element format is what defines the session. At a workshop the attendees do some actual work and the interaction is much more than Q & A”

With this in mind I attended the “workshop” with my usual keen eye on the format.

There was best practice everywhere!

  1. There were only twenty attendees. Although not impossible it is much easier to have a workshop around this number.
  2. Time was included to network before and after the main part of the session. 
  3. Physical barriers had been removed. We weren’t sitting behind tables, the speaker wasn’t behind a lectern and the facilitator was sitting on the same level of the attendees.
  4. The event had a very interactive format. Throughout the event we were asked to vote on questions (lifting either red or green cards) and express our opinions. We moved quite far away from the “bloke telling me stuff for an hour” format that I come across in some workshops.
  5. We changed the environment. The event lasted for 90 mins. Part way through the workshop half of the attendees moved to another room and those who stayed moved the layout of the room.
  6. We did some work! We were set an investment challenge and a business challenge.

These are all great tips if you are holding a workshop and want some best practice.

interested attendees at a conference

Digital Sapiens workshop in Barcelona.

A few more general best practice from this workshop

The speaker was great and the content was really interesting too. I loved that the speaker Tim, CEO and Funder of Waitrr introduced himself to all of the attendees before the start of the workshop, with a firm handshake and a smile. This was a great touch!

These are of course important points, not just for a workshop, but for any type of format.

Richard the organiser clearly put in a lot of effort to create a special event. He told me he thinks he has attended about 1000 events (that’s about 300 more than I have organised) so he certainly had a lot of source material when thinking about his event.

But now you don’t have to organise 700 events or attend 1000 of them. You have a handy best practice list for your next workshop.