Resource: Planning a facilitated workshop
The key to the success of a facilitated workshop is careful planning. In general, for a full day workshop, you should be in touch with the facilitator at least two weeks in advance, to agree an agenda and send it out in advance to participants, and the facilitator should provide a meeting note with action points and next steps within a week after the workshop. The following is a checklist for successful workshop planning.
- Give your facilitator as much background information as possible, including a detailed attendance list and an organigram. Do the people in the room know each other already, or not?
- What is the main objective of the workshop? It’s okay to have multiple objectives: for example, we want to create our new strategic plan, and we also want the team to get to know each other better, but it’s important to know which is the primary goal.
- What would a good outcome be at the end of the day? Is it achievable?
- The facilitator is likely to need help with three things: note taking; physical help like moving flipchart pages around; and facilitation of subgroups, if it is a large meeting. Will these be provided by associates of the facilitators, or by volunteers within the group itself?
- Ask your facilitator to provide you with an annotated agenda, to give you an idea of they expect to run the day, including managing subgroups, reporting back etc. This is not for circulation to the wider meeting participants, however. A good facilitator will need to be flexible and responsive to the dynamics of the group on the day, and so the circulated agenda should be broad enough to allow for some modifications.
- The facilitator should provide a meeting note promptly after the meeting as part of the service, based on notes taken by associates or volunteers. Is a detailed meeting note required, or action points only?
- What will happen after the meeting? Are participants clear what the meeting will feed into? What next steps are likely to be needed?
Your facilitator will need to know the following logistical information in order to prepare for the workshop:
- What are the contact details of the person responsible for the venue logistics?
- How many people does the venue hold, and is the venue big enough to move around in? What way will the room be set up/what's possible? Can tables and chairs be moved during the day?
- Is a flipchart provided, and can flipchart pages be stuck to the walls for workshopping?
- What are the IT requirements, and are they provided by the venue, the company host, or the facilitator? If there is an IT issue, whose responsibility is it to fix it?
- Will lunch/coffee and tea be served in the room or outside it? Do you want a quick working lunch, or a leisurely lunch so that colleagues can catch up?
- Can the facilitator have access to the room beforehand to prepare and afterwards to clear up?
Please feel free to use this checklist for your own workshops and when hiring a facilitator. If you reproduce this content, however, please credit Barncat Consulting.