The PM as a workshop facilitator

The project environment is a dynamic one and Project Managers face different situations with the need to facilitate one or more workshops. When chairing a workshop as a facilitator, there are certain salient points to consider for success – stand back from the discussion and ensure that all stakeholders participate. Planning and participation are core ingredients to workshop success. Let’s consider the following 6 steps that will further help with planning a workshop.

Project Managers define the project process, make content decisions about scope, budget, and sometimes about specifications. As a Project Manager, you will have to manage both process and content. However, the role is different when as a Project Manager you have to act as facilitator – it’s a different ball game.

As a project manager, when chairing a workshop as a facilitator it is important to realise that you are not there to contribute to the meeting; you are there to set the objectives clearly and to ensure that everyone contributes before arriving at a conclusion. Stand back from the discussion and ensure that everyone participates in the process.

How to plan a workshop – 6 steps

Step 1: Define the Goals

What is the purpose of the meeting? Remember: without a clear goal, there is no point in getting people getting.

Step 2: Define who will attend

Knowing who will attend directly relates to the objective

Step 3: Choose the RIGHT location

The size of attendees will help in choice. Consider the facility (internal - within the organisation or external)

Step 4: Create an Agenda

At this point you already know the objective and who will attend, so you can start to develop an outline of how you’ll achieve the workshop goal. The objectives of the workshop need to be stated in the meeting’s agenda. The agenda also needs to outline what the participants will be expected to contribute.

Step 5: Develop a Follow-Up Plan

How do you know the workshop was a success? An effective follow-up plan is needed. You could create a questionnaire to give to all participants at the end of the vent. This is the only way to learn and improve for the next time.

Step 6: Communicate the Results

Finally, it is important to have a plan to communicate the decisions that were reached during the workshop. You could use a a mass email to everyone with the details or simple put same on the organisation’s intranet. Stakeholders need to know that their hard work actually resulted in a decision or action – keep them informed about what’s happening after the workshop.

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