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Tuesday, 5 February 2008

How to give a successful workshop: lessons learnt from a dream

I don't dream about work every night. Just the nights I actually get enough sleep to hit the appropriate REM cycle. But when I do, why not share the lessons learnt? I take no responsibility for workshops based on this advice...
  1. Know how many people will be taking the workshop.
  2. Limit the number to something you can handle.
  3. Make sure there are enough workstations for everyone to work at.
  4. If people continually arriving will disrupt the workshop, close the door soon after starting.
  5. If people continually leaving will disrupt the workshop, chain participants to their desks soon after starting.
  6. Prepare a realistic lesson plan with built-in leeway.
  7. Check all equipment, internet connections, URLs, logins, etc, beforehand.
  8. Have a list of all necessary URLs, logins, etc. In multiple handy places.
  9. If workshop participants need URLs, logins, etc, email them in advance. And have handouts ready as well.

If all else fails -- as it clearly had in my dream -- be prepared to be flexible:
  1. If you originally planned to run an interactive workshop and find that due to hundreds of people turning up this is impractical, just deliver a lecture instead.
  2. If you originally planned to cover two topics and are halfway through your time having barely started on the first, just shrug off the second one.
  3. If you originally planned to show examples but can't remember your log-in / can't find the URL / can't get the wireless connection working, just move on to something else.
  4. If despite utter confusion and chaos you've managed to muddle through to the end and attendees inexplicably begin applauding, accept their thanks gracefully. It isn't often one has an anxiety dream without the anxiety.