Workshops are full of situations, the good, the bad and the ugly. Although this is expected however there are some situations we simply don’t know how to respond nor react to sometimes. This can include your participants, the environment or you as the workshop leader.  Therefore I have come up with seven workshop situations I have witnessed and experienced in some cases and share with you some ideas to use in those situations.

1. Your Workshop Loses Its Flow. As a workshop leader we need to imagine the flow of the workshop, its activities and discussion. We need to have a vague idea about how long each activity will take and where it may go afterwards. Including this, we need to decide how each of our workshop activities will connect with each other and maintain its flow

2. Your Group Discussions Become Controversial. A good sign of well prepared workshops should reveal the likely contradictions and diversions a conversion may have. As a workshop leader we should spend time in gathering data beforehand to inform and direct these discussion. As a result we can pre-identify options/likely solutions and help us get to those quickly by getting everyone to sign-off on the touchy stuff.

3. Your Breakouts Become Breaks. Don’t have two or three breakout sessions in a row with the same groups, this can slow down the amount of work that gets down in the workshop. A good workshop leader would consider a variety of group dynamics and allow people from different opinions and interests to work together.

4. You Have To Take Side. Firstly…. Don’t! As a workshop leader it’s important to be neutral by not taking sides or advocating a strong view during the workshop. If you want to state your view or advice on one side more than the other, make sure you pre-qualify your comments and have a pro/con for each side but then conclude your view/opinion on a neutral point.

5. You Lose Your Voice To The Loudmouth. In most workshops there are participants who love the sound of their own voice, interrupt others and make it hard (or easy) for the quieter ones to have a voice. Try to limit their impact by directly enquiring from those less vocal or another tactic I use often is to mention their name and their key points “As Ben pointed out, we need to think about XYZ…”. This way, they then feel heard and their ego stroked – two major causes of loud mouthedness.

6. You Struggle With Strugglers. As a workshop leader we need to be able to identify if a participant is struggling to make their point in a way that you and/or the rest of the workshops don’t understand. If we do come across this situation, a good thing to do is to say what your understanding of their point in your own words, or maybe ask them to give an example or re-explain.

7. Your Time Loses Its Pressure.  As a workshop leader I can’t remember the amount of time I have to say the following words “We only have 20 minutes left and we have to finish this”. The technique I have used is always have this sense of pressure every 20 minutes. The idea is to use the pressure of the clock and people’s wish not to waste time to finish work

Final Thoughts

I’m fully aware that workshops have more than seven situations and have only touched the tip of the iceberg with this post. I do plan to cover more in the future but would love to hear from you and your situations. Please comment below or email about your experiences and thoughts on this matter.


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