How do you run a great workshop or training day that really makes a difference to the way people work? The keys are ownership and reflection. 

In my view, great workshops, training days and away days need to do two things. They need to help people solve their own problems. And they need to help people work reflectively towards fixing them. 

What do I mean by solving their own problems? I mean asking them, what do you find difficult about the topic? What challenges do you face? Where do you want to be and what’s in your way? These questions build buy-in. You are working on their problem rather than them on yours. 

What do I mean by working reflectively? This is about creating the conditions in which your attendees can try out a new tool or technique and reflect on how well it is working. Does the new approach they’ve learnt in your workshop work? Does it help them get over their challenge? If yes, great! If not, what else do they need to do? Is there a modification or a different technique?

One of my favourite quotes relating to this sort of workshop design is:

Reflection tailors the glove of theory to the hand of experience.

The critically reflective practitioner, (Thompson and Thompson, 2008)

It doesn’t matter if you design the most exciting event if it doesn’t fit your audience.