How to Run a Workshop

Instructor: Lynn Doerr

Lynn has worked in various aspects of marketing for many years and has a Master's degree in Marketing Communication.

This lesson covers the elements and considerations needed to build a successful workshop from setting the goals and objectives through building the content, structuring the activities, and outlining next steps.

Planning and Running a Workshop


You just volunteered to run a workshop for your department. You wanted to show initiative but you've never actually run a workshop before. It can't be that difficult, right? After all, you've attended numerous workshops in the past.

The good news is that you know more than you think. A workshop is an opportunity for a group to come together, spend time learning about a specific topic, and then use that knowledge to solve a problem and build an output. The other benefit is the relationships that groups build by working together.

Like most things, there are some specific steps you can follow so that you can build a workshop your colleagues and boss will rave about!

Goals and Objectives of the Workshop

The first step is to outline your goals and objectives for the workshop. You should have a good starting point - what is it that your department needs? In this case, you've volunteered to run a workshop on 'Understanding Social Media.' But you will need a little more detail than this. Decide which elements of social media you'd like to review in the workshop based on which ones are most relevant for your team.

Audience and Venue

Determine the audience and venue. How many people will be attending? Will you need a separate communication plan to send invitations? Be sure to allow enough time for people to schedule the event and be sure your venue will allow for the number of people and the needs of the workshop. For instance, make sure you can accommodate for the space required, any audio visual (AV) needs, meals, and even overnight stays if people need to travel.


Now you need to create an agenda.


Some standard components include:

Introduction - The objective/goal for the day. It's good to create a slide or handout with the specific goals. If participants start to wander off topic, you can use this reference as a way to reinforce the focus for the day.

Topics - What are the key topics for the day? Who is considered the expert and will be presenting on each topic? How much time is needed?

Keep in mind that the presenter will probably prepare a slide show or some other presentation for the group. You will want to allow time for them to prepare the content and review it with you PRIOR to the workshop to make sure it is meeting the overall objectives. You will also want to consider what other resources might be needed for your audience to best understand the content. Will they need to pre-read any materials that must be sent in advance? Will the presenter need to be advised of the other presentations and how the content will be aligned for a cohesive whole?

Group activities - What exercises will the group engage in? What extra resources might be needed (AV, flip charts, pre-formatted templates, computers)? How much time will you allow for creating an output and presenting to the group for discussion?

A workshop is a learning opportunity for the attendees and a good time and place to work on skill building. In this case, since your workshop is on social media, you could create some activities where the participants actually begin designing some specific social media campaigns. For instance, if you've decided to focus on blogs, Twitter, and Instagram as your three main topics, you can have the team members divide into groups and have each one focus on one of the three elements, work on a plan (with templates you've created to guide the process), and then present back to the group for discussion. This is a good way to engage everyone in the process and exchange ideas to actually build an output that can be implemented after the workshop. This also allows everyone to experiment with the material that they've just learned and test their own understanding.

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