Yes, we’re already at fine-tuning! After we’ve now filled all of our columns and know what to do, there’s only a few things left: Choose an adequate initial warm-up, and one warm-up for after the break, choose a feedback exercise, check what you have to before the workshop starts.
The second half starts with an external input. I already wrote two blog posts about providing input as such. This time, the input will be text-based. As mentioned earlier, I like using hbr.org as a source for articles – they are informative, well-written and can easily be understood even if you’re not into all that management talk. For my topic of moving to agile collaboration, I found an article which in general fits this topic quite well: Agile at Scale. It is about scaling up agile teams in companies, and mentions many differences between traditional collaboration and the agile framework.
As mentioned in several other posts before, changing the working form regularly will help your workshop in multiple ways. First, it will help your participants to concentrate longer. Second, it will make your workshop more diverse as you give different types of learners the option to find a phase that they feel most comfortable with. Third, there are things than can best be done with a partner, or in a group, or in smaller groups – or alone, and adjusting the working form to the most beneficial one will help you to get the most out of each phase.
In our example workshop, I decided to go for a discussion as the input. As the topic is collaboration an possible improvements, there is no larger need for any input as the starting point. On the contrary – imagine being invited to a workshop to reflect on your collaboration practices, and the first thing you are presented with is a theoretical text about collaboration at work. Wouldn’t this feel like a punch in the face? It’s like saying Well, nice of you to be here, let’s look at what you did wrong your whole career… and nobody likes that!
Have you ever listened to someone properly? I mean, properly. Listening involves more than turning your head into the general direction where a friend, colleague or even your boss is sitting. Listening skills are often very, if not the most, underdeveloped skill in a leader’s skill set. Well, why should you waste your time improving your listening skills? You have two ears, both are functioning, or maybe just one, but that’s still enough, right? Spoiler alert: It’s not. The good thing is: You can improve your listening skills with one simple little thing.
Giving your team a text to read is a very common and handy approach to providing input. There are more than enough texts on the internet! Preparing a text as an input is quite easy and does not require much work – however, you should do your prep! Otherwise you’ll possibly end up with many lose ends and open questions during the workshop.
Of course you have heard this question. Everybody has! The answer is probably yes. If you even wonder whether you should write something down… do it. Being the person to remind the group of writing results down – or even doing it yourself without even asking that question – might trigger your colleagues to wonder why you insist on this. So let’s quickly review the top three possible reasons.
The goals for warm-ups and feedbacks are usually quite universal. However, there is a great variance in what you can and will achieve with a warm-up. You should always consider your warm-ups, feedback phases and cool-downs as part of your workshop, and as such, as a phase that fulfills a certain function. A good warm-up is never just a game that interrupts your workshop!
Everything you do during a workshop is an exercise. It’s not just about handing out sheets with numbered questions which your participants need to fill in or answer in a written form. Think of it more like a blueprint of what you’ll do during your phases!
Leading meetings is an art and a necessity. The difference between a meeting and a great meeting is most often made by the meeting owner. There are a few mandatory steps to go through if you want to bring your meetings to the next level. A very easy way to upgrade your regulars is to introduce some rituals. That does not mean that you should make your meetings fully predictable – it just means giving everybody some bootstraps to navigate through the meeting safely.