A workshop is a great way to quickly and effectively get key people in a room to discuss strategy and innovation ideas, progress or next steps. We often encourage teams in large companies to regularly participate in workshop sessions that can foster collaboration, dynamic ways of thinking, and team alignment for a specific goal.
Workshop facilitators--the people who are responsible for leading a strategy workshop--have the most important job to do in the room. Facilitators have to make sure that participants are focused and productive for any given length of time.
Whether you’re hosting a workshop for the first time, or want to brush up on your skills, here are 5 tips to keep you sharp:
1. Remember: it’s not about you
Your main role as a facilitator is to make sure that everyone in the room is getting involved; that everyone is collaborating; and that the planned exercises are being acted out in the way they were intended. You have to make sure the session is going well, and avoid getting in the way of the activities that are taking place. It’s not about you, it’s about the people in the room.
2. Ask a lot of questions
As a facilitator you will be responsible for bringing out what people are thinking. This means you’ll have to ask a lot of questions to get participants going. The best way to ask good questions is to be curious: be really interested in what your attendees have to say in order to get their creative juices flowing.
3. Be a brilliant listener
A great facilitator will be very patient and a brilliant listener. There will be a lot of ideas, comments, and opinions coming out from participants throughout the workshop. You will have to rephrase a lot of that activity to make sure it’s all understood and captured correctly onto the tools or devices that are being used during the session.
4. Help to bring ideas together
This tip ties on to being a brilliant listener. As all of these ideas are coming out, you will be there to help participants see connections, spot relationships or themes with the ideas they might not notice or have considered before.
5. Be external to the process
We end this list in the same vein: remove yourself from the interactions taking place in the room. Be available to give a good overview of exercises and results; keep things going throughout the day; keep people engaged; and make sure that each part of the session is connected to each other to ensure proper flow and structure.