What are the key elements of a good/successful workshop?

The key to a good and successful workshop is preparation.

You don’t need to over engineer this process – running effective workshops has more to do with preparation, than execution. If you prepare well, you will run it well (and vise versa).

The following are key areas to focus on for running effective workshops:

  1. Agenda – have a clear agenda (time boxed if you can)
  2. Participants – identify and invite the required stakeholders (and do that ahead of time)
  3. Content – have your material you plan to discuss or walkthrough ready ahead of time (share it before hand and even has it peer reviewed before hand. If it helps, send it ahead of time, with or after your meeting invite, but word of caution – if you have controversial material, content or decisions in that early communication, which make open up additional or unnecessary discussion, don’t sent it ahead of time, and share it during the workshop, not before).
  4. Strawman/templates – where every possible, if discussing new ideas or elicitation output or new ideas from your group, have an example or template ready and available. Avoid starting with a blank sheet of paper, sheet or screen, this will open up the floor and discussion that can and often doesn’t go any and everywhere, which costs you time, and focus, which you don’t have.
  5. Tools – if face to face/in-person, make sure you have the room setup before, any whiteboards, paper and marker pens are there. If presenting, make sure your slides are ready and edited. If online – make sure your chosen video call software and/or app is working, your mic and speaker/headset is working, and if using an electronic whiteboard, make sure that is also working, and you have setup your stakeholders are users so that can access and participate in the group activities while on the call.