Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Rules for Workshops

I've prepared a lot of workshops in my time and each one demands a careful balance between generalizations and examples. The generalizations are needed to provide structure and connect its parts. The examples are needed to show how the structure's concepts relate to reality. 

Both are essential.

The tricky part lurks in the pace and the details. 

I usually avoid role-playing exercises since they are huge time-gobblers. They are helpful with some topics but they can easily throw off your pace. If you have a couple of Olympic-caliber talkers in the class, then you are in true jeopardy.

Case examples are far better. [Everyone likes to play detective.] I love the use of short case examples provided they are fast-paced and designed to elicit class participation.

Even with those guidelines, however, another item to consider is how much detail to put in the hand-out materials. Some material is essential but a simple rule should be respected: it is far better not to have material in the workbook and then discuss it than to have it in the workbook and not discuss it. 

Unless material is in an appendix, people expect it to be covered. If time becomes pinched, you may regret having to address points that are truly optional. A well-written case example can give you the flexibility to expand upon a topic or to address only its key points.

There will be times when either choice will be dearly desired.

One more rule: always leave the audience well-fed but still hungry for more. Spark their interest. Build the confidence that they are grasping key points. Convey your passion for the topic. Give them some stories that they will repeat to their friends and family members. Never let them leave thinking, "I've heard more than I ever want to hear about this subject."

Remember: you want them hungry for more.

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