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From awful to amazing – how to create workshops that work



Most staff dread attending workshops, believing they are going to be a waste of time and will deliver very little value. "Part of the reason people expect workshops to be unpleasant or useless is that they expect the dynamics to be awful," says Jean Gemester, Semaphora (  "There will be one or two voices that always ring out and dominate and the facilitator lets it happen.  The key is to break people into smaller discussion groups and
ask one person from each group to report back on the group’s discussion."

Secondly, it is important that there is variety in the training session including the use of case studies, theory and challenges - otherwise attendees can expect a day of boring lectures, says Gemester.

The third challenge according to Gemester, is that when there is only one message allowed in the room (the message of the person running the session).  "When this happens, the group won’t trust you and they will feel that their voices don’t count, so they will switch off. We have to share our messages for sure, but we need to do it in a way that respects the free will, imaginations and experience of our audience."

So next time you’re wanting to engage with and inspire a group of people, focus on the dynamics, the content and the message shared both ways. Then you’ve a much better chance of getting feedback like “I was expecting the session to be awful, but it was amazing. Thanks!”

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