Organising a workshop is a productive way to contribute value to your community… but developing and leading practical workshops is a skill that not everyone possesses. It's not an exhibition where eye-catching booths will aid you in connecting with your team. You’ll need engaging activities and captivating professionals during a workshop to keep your participants involved. Read on to find a list of workshop ideas and examples suitable for your workshop event, whether you're an expert or a beginner.
What is a workshop in business?
Generally, a workshop implies practical engagement with leaders to help and guide. Roughly 86% of employees say job training is important to them—and nearly three out of every four (74%) are willing to learn outside work hours to improve their job performance.
Workshops frequently combine group discussions, theoretical lectures, practical exercises, and hands-on activities to enhance participants' understanding, abilities, and knowledge of a subject.
Types of workshops
These are some kinds of workshops and their subsets. You’ll probably find some familiar.
Educational workshops are learning sessions or programs designed to enhance the skills, knowledge, and overall professional development of participants. The topics addressed in these workshops can vary widely depending on the organisation's goals, but they mostly cover topics that are relevant to the workspace.
Here are some specific educational workshop ideas:
1. Public speaking workshop
Don’t get wrapped up in stereotypes claiming that you can't participate in a pitch competition if you ain’t a natural speaker. Public speaking is one of the most important courses you can take and a skill you can develop. Whenever you find yourself talking while others listen without any back and forth, you have moved from a conversation to public speaking.
Whether you're giving a company overview to two potential investors, presenting your firm to potential employees at a job fair, or discussing your team's latest project at a staff meeting, you are engaging in public speaking.
Therefore, this skill is invaluable, even if you never deliver a speech to large groups. During your career, you must present your projects, company, and yourself to your team or clients. Being able to publicly convey your ideas is one of the most powerful ways to gain that buy-in and flourish in your career.
2. Coding class
In corporate environments, event planners can organise coding bootcamps focusing on languages and technologies relevant to the company's goals and requirements. Courses on programs such as Lean, Agile and tools that enable it, like Jira, can be useful. Workshop settings are excellent for learning to code, as this skill is better understood when applied in action. It's no surprise that nearly 6 in 10 millennials want to see opportunities to learn and grow when they’re browsing job postings.
3. Data Science training
In data science workshops, participants are frequently introduced to standard tools and technologies used in the area. These include SQL, R and Python, through which participants can alter data, carry out statistical analysis, put machine learning algorithms into practice, and visualise the outcomes.
4. Learning how to use Office 365 / Google Workspace
Many things you assume are “common sense” are anything but common. Allowing your team to delve into these platforms can be a game-changer. You'll be surprised at how quickly seemingly invisible productivity bottlenecks dissolve after a few of these workshops, making your team more efficient and grateful for the acquired skills. Have you used Google Keep yet?
These workshops are designed to stimulate creative thinking, generate innovative ideas, and encourage participants to explore and express their creativity. Their main goal is to inspire participants, break down mental barriers, and create a collaborative and open-minded environment. It might also contribute to teamwork.
1. Cross-functional workshops — The Design Sprint
The sprint is a five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers. For more info, look up Google Ventures’ Design Sprint.
Collaborating within a sprint allows you to bypass the endless cycle of debates and compress months of work into a single week. Instead of waiting to launch a minimal product to understand if an idea is any good, you’ll get precise data from a realistic prototype. The sprint gives you a superpower: You can fast-forward into the future to see your finished product and customer reactions before making any expensive commitments. It's somewhat like a hackathon, as it allows you to collaboratively come up with a solution within a limited timeframe.
2. Storytelling workshop
Storytelling is possibly what differentiates a good brand from an iconic one. Stories are how we understand the world. It's a base part of human psychology, tied deeply into the evolution of intelligence, and they can be the difference between being a re-hasher and a millionaire.
The human brain seems to be hard-wired to remember a narrative better than a simple set of instructions. The nuances in how you present a story are what set you apart from the competition. Stories are everywhere, but it's up to you to find and tell them.
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3. “Making toast”
This concept gained popularity following Tom Wujec’s TED Talk “Got a Wicked Problem? First, Tell Me How To Make Toast.”
In this exercise, the facilitator will ask the workshop participants to imagine the process of making toast and then describe the steps involved. Subsequently, participants are divided into small groups and tasked with creating a diagram illustrating the toast-making process based on the provided instructions. You’ll see that what appears to be an effortless task like making toast can be interpreted and executed differently. It is an excellent method for testing the clarity of communication, understanding perspectives, attention to detail, and fostering team collaboration.
Overall, it is a practical and engaging way to convey important lessons about team building, communication, collaboration, and the need for clarity in instructions.
These kinds of workshops are hands-on, interactive, engaging activities and exercises to facilitate learning, collaboration, and skill development. They are designed to be dynamic and encourage participants to actively engage in their learning process, rather than solely relying on passive listening. The objective is to establish an interactive setting that enhances comprehension and retention of the workshop material.
1. Team Building events
These workshops focus on developing critical skills such as goal-setting, active listening, conflict resolution, effective communication, and problem-solving. Activities range from engaging in escape rooms, participating in team Olympics, problem-solving scenarios, and scavenger hunts… or you could opt for a more relaxed approach by hosting a cheese and wine-tasting event — an activity that everyone is sure to enjoy. Also, concluding the event with a meal is always a crowd-pleaser.
This activity will stimulate discussions within your team, fostering an environment that encourages you to improve ideas by poking at them from different angles. It's particularly helpful when you have lingering problems, and your team is feeling stuck to come up with fresh ideas.
Align your team on the concept you're debating and work up through all the letters in the acronym:
Substitute (What would happen if we swapped A for B?)
Combine (What would happen if we combined A and B?)
Adapt (How could we adapt this to a different context?)
Modify (How could we change this to improve results?)
Put to another use (How could we change this to improve results?)
Eliminate (What could we remove or simplify?)
Reverse (How might we rearrange or interchange elements?)
3. Problem-solving activity
We often hear that computer science revolves around problem-solving and creativity. Do you believe this skill is inherent? No. Intelligence is trained through practice, and a workshop is the perfect place to practice, brainstorm, and help each other out.
Here are some activities that you could try out at a problem-solving workshop:
Reverse brainstorming: Instead of generating ideas to solve a problem, participants brainstorm ways to exacerbate or worsen the issue. Then, they flip these negative ideas into positive solutions, resulting in unconventional and innovative solutions.
The 5 Whys: Participants explore the root cause of difficulty by repeatedly asking “Why?” five times. This technique helps identify underlying issues and contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the problem.
Marshmallow tower challenge: The task is simple — in eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest freestanding structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top.
Are you already planning your next workshop?
Workshops are an excellent way to connect with professionals and fellow teammates. Beyond acquiring new skills that enhance job performance, employees can experience a notable boost in morale and loyalty, feeling genuinely cared for.
Many of the ideas mentioned above came from the WeAreDevelopers World Congress, a flagship event for developers and tech decision-makers. At this congress, a vibrant community converges, featuring notable tech leaders, innovators and hard-working devs exchanging ideas and discussing contemporary trends and challenges in software development. If you’re in the tech industry, consider joining thousands of tech companies and developers at this two-day conference in Berlin.
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