While a corporate workshop can be invaluable to your business, it also isn't an easy event to plan. It requires a great deal of foresight and strategic planning — otherwise, your efforts are very likely to fall flat. That begins with organizing a workshop checklist.
Before we get into specifics, we should probably start things off with a brief primer. After all, you can't really learn how to plan a workshop without first understanding what a workshop is. Those of you who already have a firm grasp of that knowledge can [[click here]] to skip to our checklist.
What Are Corporate Workshops?
A corporate workshop is a structured, interactive and collaborative event intended to achieve specific learning objectives or solve business problems. An organization might host a workshop for a number of different reasons, including team building, leadership training, promoting innovation, boosting creativity, engaging in strategic planning, or assisting in skills development. Workshops are typically conducted in a small group setting, where a facilitator or subject matter expert guides participants through exercises, activities and discussions.
The Benefits of Corporate Workshops
Corporate workshops allow a business to invest in the growth and development of its employees, foster a culture of continuous learning and tackle complex business problems via a collaborative, innovative approach. Well-designed workshops have the potential to increase productivity, performance, and retention, motivating and inspiring employees to put more of themselves into their work. They're ultimately an investment into your people.
And people, as we've said before, are the beating heart of every successful business.
Workshop Planning Checklist
Before you get too deep into planning and organization, you need to lay some groundwork. It's also important to remember that although every workshop begins with an idea, not every idea makes for a successful workshop. You also need to be cognizant of your resources and capabilities — you may need to bring in a third-party to assist in facilitation and management.
Define Your Workshop's Purpose
What outcome do you want your workshop to achieve? Write out your workshop's core objective in concrete terms along with what's required for you to achieve that objective. Stick to one or two goals.
- Deliverables, which are concrete, tangible results. Examples include an action plan, a certification, a report, or a strategic roadmap.
- Soft outcomes, which may include new partnerships, new opportunities, or greater trust between participants.
Identify Your Target Audience
In addition to knowing what you want to achieve with your workshop, you also need to know who that workshop is for. Are you hosting a seminar for your sales team, a collaborative brainstorming event for product development, a team-building exercise for your marketing department, or something else altogether?
Discuss Your Workshop With Stakeholders
Once you're sure you have a winning idea, it's time to present it to your stakeholders. You'll want to think about how much you're willing to negotiate prior to going in. What compromises are you willing to make, and what aspects of your event are non-negotiable?
The best advice we can give you at this stage is to consider how your workshop might further your higher-level business objectives, and find a way to convey that.
Establish your Event Planning Budget
How much capital will you require in order to ensure your workshop is a success? Don't panic if you can't finance your workshop entirely through your own funds. There are several ways you can bridge the gaps in your financing, including sponsorships and ticket sales.
Gather Your Team
A seasoned event management professional knows that they're only as good as their team. While it's possible to handle a smaller workshop with only a few people, larger events are going to require more effort and coordination. Areas you might want to focus on include:
- Finance and budgeting.
- Marketing and promotion.
- Vendor and sponsor management.
- Event technology.
- Venue management and logistics.
You'll also want to reach out to any potential third-party vendors or partners at this stage so that you can secure the necessary technology and materials for your event.
Now that we've set the foundation, it's time to start planning specifics.
Choose the Right Venue for Your Workshop
You likely already have a shortlist of potential venues for your workshop. Your next step is to decide which one will host your workshop. Key considerations may include:
- On-site services.
Plan Your Workshop Event's Content and Activities
You know what you want your workshop to achieve — now it's time to zero in on how. Start by brainstorming and creating content for your workshop's target audience. From there, you'll want to think about content delivery.
Don't just settle for lectures and presentations. Mix things up a bit with both scheduled and unscheduled activities such as Q&A sessions, collaborative problem solving, and hands-on, practical learning.
You should also identify the materials and equipment you need in order to facilitate these activities.
Draft and Refine an Agenda
Again, you likely have a rough draft of your agenda planned out already. Work with your stakeholders and colleagues to refine that agenda. Before you finalize it, you'll want to ensure it covers the following:
- Scheduling, including registration deadlines and when the workshop will begin and end.
- Must-have activities and presentations.
- Optional activities and presentations.
- Estimated time frames for each activity and presentation, including a buffer for unexpected delays or issues.
- How and when your workshop will open and close.
- Other details that may be relevant to participants, including restaurants, attractions and amenities near the venue.
Market Your Workshop
It's almost time to announce your event to the world. All that's left is for you to put together a communication plan. Said plan should cover every aspect of event marketing and promotion, including:
- Tools and technologies essential to promoting your event.
- How people will find out about your workshop.
- The tone and language you'll use in your promotional materials.
- An "elevator pitch" that tells people everything they need to know about the workshop.
- The event registration process.
Running Your Workshop
It's nearly time for your workshop. You just have a few more things to do before you're ready, and a few things to keep in mind while it's running.
Assemble Your Materials and Technology
If your running your workshop requires any specific tools such as virtual labs or A/V systems, make sure everything is deployed and fully tested at least a few days beforehand. That way, if there's anything wrong, you'll have ample time to troubleshoot. This is also the stage at which you'll acquire the materials defined previously.
Brief Speakers, Stakeholders and Participants
Finally, a few days before it's time to host your workshop, sit down with everyone involved in running and managing the event. Make sure everyone knows everything they need to know, and clearly define each participant's responsibilities while addressing any questions or concerns people might have.
Take some time to yourself in the days leading up to the event. Rest, relax, and recharge. Running a workshop can take a lot out of you as an event planner, and you need to ensure you have the energy to spare.
Otherwise, you might start spiraling towards burnout.
Finally, when the day of your workshop finally arrives, be ready to adjust your agenda when necessary. There's a reason we advised including a buffer on your time estimates for each activity.
Once your workshop is done, there are just a few more tasks ahead of you.
Assess and Iterate
First up is feedback and reporting. There are a few key things you'll want to collect here:
- All relevant data on attendees.
- Photography of the workshop, if relevant.
- Feedback from guests and facilitators.
- Feedback from attendees.
Once you've got all that, consolidate it into a report with key insights, recommendations and decisions regarding your workshop's outcome and how it might be applied to future workshops. Create separate versions of the report — one for internal use, the other for attendees.
Follow Up With Speakers and Participants
Reach out to everyone who attended the workshop and thank them for their participation. If relevant, you can also share:
- Details on future workshops.
- A report summarizing the key insights, findings, or deliverables of the event.
- Additional materials or resources.
- Certificates of attendance or completion.
- An invitation to subscribe to your company's mailing list.
Finally, make sure your marketing team knows to use the momentum from your workshop to promote future events. This can be done through social media if hosting a customer-facing workshop, or via internal channels if the workshop was developed for your own employees.
Need More Corporate Workshop Ideas?
Planning a corporate workshop can seem overwhelming at first. There's a lot of work that can go into it, and no shortage of ways you might end up sidetracked. So long as you follow the checklist above and trust your own insights and experience, however, you should do just fine.
In the meantime, if you want some more corporate workshop ideas, be sure to check out our blog How to Choose the Right Event Personality for Your Next Corporate Workshop.
We'd also love it if we could help you with your workshops in the future. Feel free to reach out and see for yourself what it means to take your events from perfect to Purple.