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Making Workshops Work: Book Review

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Penny Pullan

Making Workshops Work by Dr Penny Pullan is a guide to turning that “Can you set up a workshop?” comment into a fully-fledged and useful session for everyone.

It covers virtual and hybrid (some people in the room and some virtual) workshops as well as in-person sessions. Once upon a time we advised people to level the playing field and have everyone dialling in or everyone in-person but that doesn’t work any longer.

There’s a handy quick start guide at the beginning of the book gets you exactly what you need for the situation you find yourself in. I loved this: it’s a simple way to navigate to the ideas that are going to help you right now instead of having to wade through the whole book cover to cover.

Coping with nerves

The book encourages you to look at your own workshop facilitation style: the way you present yourself, the words you use and the way you frame the interactions to decide where the ‘spotlight’ goes.

It covers competencies for facilitation and has a large section on all the stuff you might be worried about.

For example, the author addresses:

  • How to manage stress (on your part, if you are nervous about running the session)
  • How to deal with large groups
  • How to manage when there is no energy in the room
  • How to direct the conversation when there are power differentials and delegates won’t start (or stop) speaking.

And loads more: conflict, culture, poor audio quality… it’s all in here.

Getting actions done

If you are anything like me, you have run workshops in the past and facilitated sessions… and then struggled to get people to do anything as a result.

Making Workshops Work includes a section on how to make sure that doesn’t happen. The author talks about why actions don’t get done and how to make sure they are. There’s a particular focus on tips for virtual workshops too.

Learning through experience

There’s a limit to how far reading will take you: you do have to get in there and run some workshops to gain the experience.

However, the book ends with 3 stories of people who have done just that and survived. You get the theory and step-by-step guide to leading workshops, and you get to see what real people have done.

In fact, there are plenty of stories, anecdotes and examples woven throughout, which bring the concepts to life.

My final thoughts

I thought the book was perfect for nervous workshop leaders as it takes you by the hand and guides you through how to boost your confidence through effective planning.

It’s also got plenty of content for the experienced facilitator, and if that’s you, you’ll enjoy the section on choosing your activities to get the best out of the experience for everyone.

Whether you are running a small group session or facilitating a larger group, there are plenty of ideas in this book to engage your participants and get the outcomes you need. It’s the perfect book for our times because it recognises the need for in-person, virtual and hybrid strategies and shares them all. Packed with horror stories and inspirational descriptions of workshop success, you’ll put the book down feeling more confident and more competent running your own sessions.

Making Workshops Work: Creative collaboration for our time
£9.99

Whether you are running a small group session or facilitating a larger group, there are plenty of ideas in this book to engage your participants and get the outcomes you need. It’s the perfect book for our times because it recognises the need for in-person, virtual and hybrid strategies and shares them all. Packed with horror stories and inspirational descriptions of workshop success, you’ll put the book down feeling more confident and more competent running your own sessions.

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09/22/2021 02:32 am GMT

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