As a consultant giving workshops is very important to me. It is easy for consultants to become complacent about their skills and expertise. Running workshops means that I have to be able to justify my advice and opinions to a broad spectrum of attendees. I also have to ensure that as far as possible every attendee feels that a significant element of the workshop has been designed specifically for them. Networking with other attendees is useful but each needs some significant take-aways to put on their desktop to justify the cost and the time away from their office.
These are some of the ways I try to achieve this
- Contact attendees in advance to find out what they need to get out of the workshop to give a positive RoI for themselves and their organisation
- Create the material for each workshop from scratch and not just edit a previous workshop. Attendees can spot the joins!
- Go through the agenda at the start of the workshop to check that with regard to content and timing each attendee feels that their initial requirements have been taken into account
- Make sure that from the start I can address everyone by their given name. How I do this is a trade secret!
- Make sure that during the breaks I talk to every attendee, even if briefly, to gain feedback
- Midway through the workshop I give the attendees the opportunity to reshape the agenda. This is important as the opening sessions may have raised new topics they want to explore
- Always ensure that the timing enables me to respond to questions without attendees feeling I’m concerned about overrunning
- Provide a PowerPoint file after the event with additional information in the Notes section of the slides where perhaps I have referred to a report or to a web site during the workshop
People who have been to my workshop also know that I offer a life-time guarantee! At any time after the workshop attendees can email me or phone me about anything I have said. I find that it is not until attendees get back to the office or attend a team meeting later in the month that they realise there is something from the workshop they need clarified or they need additional information on a topic
This approach seems to work well. At a recent corporate workshop in the UK on virtual team management I was given an overall score of 9.6/10, so still room for improvement! If you want to see me in action come to my Enterprise Search master class in London on 21 March, JBoye Search Days in Oslo and Copenhagen (18/19 March) or the Enterprise Search Summit in New York (20 May).