I do a lot of workshops. It’s important that I design them with care because my clients need to get out of their comfort zone, and they won’t do that if they don’t trust in the process and me.
I fall back on my TV days and create a three-column facilitator’s guide. This lets me see at glance how I am doing on time but still have all information I need. We share our guide with everyone attending, and I post it on the wall so I can stay on schedule. This is the way I bulid the guide to help me and the product manager or business analyst helping me get on the same page.
Column 1 – Time
My workshops are about six hours long, and I run on a schedule for the whole session. I find it keeps the energy level and productivity high.
I work in 30-40 minute blocks to help people be productive and focused. Sometimes I will do longer blocks, but I find that I have to work harder to keep the group engaged.
If lunch is involved, I always try to do the heavy-duty work before lunch and less intellectually heavy work in the afternoon when the coma sets in.
Column 2 – Activity
The second column has the name of the activity or exercise I’ve chosen. This is just a quick reference so I can stay on schedule. An activity is something the group does to help them tackle an area of their problem. This can include sketching, mapping out a business strategy, using sickies to describe users or prioritizing a list of development tasks.
Column 3 – Notes
I put the exact sequence of steps for the activity or exercise here along with any key questions or goals I have. This is really important when I’m tailoring an activity to meet the client’s specific need.
All this planning is great but during the session you may need to tweak an activity, change the length or change the plan completely. I almost always end up changing something but because I planned ahead it goes smoothly.