ws2How do you kick-off your face-to-face workshop planning? How do you set a clear purpose, decide who should attend, and how do you get to know your participants?

Here are three proven ideas how to kick-off your face-to-face meeting or workshop planning with your steering or preparation group:

1. Map out the different aspects and define a clear purpose

To set a clear purpose it is often necessary to dig first deeper into the whole workshop setting and to name the different aspects in relation with the workshop planned. A good and useful way to do this is collecting thoughts in a big MindMap.

  • Scotch some wall paper on a big wall and simply start collecting ideas and reflections by asking: What is this workshop, face-to-face meeting about? Which are our burning questions we want to work on? Which messages do we want to discuss and why? For and with whom? Are there any other important aspects we have to consider?
  • Then jot down any idea, question, concern, statement without commenting.
  • Spend some time to work with the MindMap. Figure out what it is really about, test your initial ideas, and jointly formulate the purpose and the participants you want to reach. And yes, the purpose comes first.

“The purpose is the hidden ladder,” says Tolke Moeller in the Little Book of Practice.

2. Bring the participants’ view, experiences and wishes to the planning table

To design a successful workshop switch position and try to see the workshop from the participants’ perspective. A simple and effective tool to do so is the Empathy Map. Imagine one of your participants, let’s say her name is Layla, and put yourself in Layla’s position.

  • draw Layla’s head on a flipchart paper
  • collect possible answers to the following questions:

What is Layla (participant in your workshop) saying?
What is Layla seeing?
What is Layla hearing?
What is Layla doing?
What is Layla thinking?
What is Layla feeling?

  • deliberate jointly what this all means for the workshop planning, the purpose and agenda setting

3. Take an iterative approach to design the workshop landscape

Think through the workshop agenda by modeling it. Make a World puts you in the participant’s shoes. This planning and visioning approach makes you imagine what participating in your workshop feels like. While you are designing your workshop world you literally learn what makes the workshop dynamic and intensive and what could kill the participants’ enthusiasm. What do you want participants do? Who is sitting (and listening)? Who is standing and presenting? And why? How does this all feel for you and your participants?

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