In all things success depends on previous preparation, and without such previous preparation there is sure to be failure.Confucius (551—479)
Chinese politician and philosopher
A Workshop Plan is the most important document for any event — be it a seminar, a workshop or training session. It should be the centre of every stage of planning, preparation and execution. Take your time to think it through properly and if you do not have much experience ask a senior moderator for advice!
Why a workshop plan?
A Workshop Plan can be highly valuable. Rather than starting from scratch, it is often a good idea to base your workshop on an earlier, successful training session. If you develop an entirely new one, it will take a significantly higher expenditure of time and money, and may be lacking in quality. If you base your Workshop Plan on a blueprint that has been tried and tested many times, and has been continuously improved, it is almost guaranteed that your event will be a success. I know some successful trainers who have been working with a plan developed by someone else for many years.
Proper documentation will enable you to take your Workshop Plan out of the drawer at short notice — even after several years when you have forgotten its contents — and to start your workshop almost immediately. So, take your time, develop it properly, readjust it whenever necessary — and save it for the next time!
Note: A Workshop Plan is not identical with the program: the Workshop Plan you keep for yourself (and perhaps co-trainers), the programme is for participants. We have placed a Workshop Plan sample in the membership area. Here is a list of the things it should include:
- Objectives: As outlined in the previous section, it is absolutely vital to define one or more objectives for the workshop. Write them down so that you always remember what it’s all about!
- Indicators: Your key performance indicators need to be written alongside your objectives so that you can measure whether or not your goals have been achieved.
- Risks: It is useful to think in advance about possible risks that might occur during your event. If you do, you will be more likely that you avoid problems or that you are able to react to them.
- Display: Take note of everything that should be displayed in your workshop room as well as in the hotel hall: roll-up banners, posters etc. The printed material should be appropriate for the target audience of your event.
- Distribute: In the ideal scenario you would have a file or folder for each participant. This should be branded appropriately and have a few key messages on it. It should be filled with relevant material like:
- Brochure for the organisation
- Rules and Regulations for the workshop
- Travel Reimbursement Form [Template in Membership Area]
- Handout (the main handout should be distributed at the end of the workshop/seminar)
When you combine an individual — perhaps personalised — folder with a warm welcome, every participant will feel that you have been waiting for him or her.
You should make sure to have a list of all the materials you will need. This includes the handouts, travel reimbursement form, multimedia equipment, tripod, film camera etc. This list should include the smallest details, down to spare plugs and cables. This will make it far easier to delegate the task of packing for the workshop. You will be able to give the Workshop Plan to an office assistant, so that he knows exactly what to pack and he can check off each item from the checklist. This will give you the ease of mind necessary to focus on planning other aspects of the workshop.
You and the other facilitators should always have the contact details of the venue available. Write these details on the Workshop Plan. It is easy to imagine a scenario in which you save the number on your mobile and it gets lost, stolen or runs out of battery.
Besides the content of the workshop, getting the timetable right is the most challenging part of the planning process. From long experience, we know that everything will take more time than initially planned. Accordingly, you