Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Archive for August, 2012

Closing the workshop with Wow

I believe it’s very important to finish on time and close the workshop – don’t let people drift off unsure of the end.

I have attended workshops with very enthusiastic presenters who just keep on going! One I recall missed afternoon tea completely and then half an hour after his closing time participants started to leave. Without a formal end there was no opportunity to reflect on learning’s, evaluate the workshop or celebrate the success.

The closing process begins with referring back to the “Expectations” flip chart you set up at the beginning of the session. Run through the list and check with participants to see if their expectations have been met.

This simple exercise helps them to reflect on what it was they were looking for at the beginning and also provides reflection for the group about the topics covered. It is the beginning of the closure process.

The benefits of closing the day

  • Provides time to reflect on learning’s
  • Pick up ideas for others as to their key learning’s
  • Facilitators gain a sense of what has been valuable to the group
  • You know the day has ended

Closing can take many forms and simply be a “closing comment” from each person. As a facilitator I like to know something people will take away so often ask “What is something you will now do differently?”

During the close I like to use the ball as I did at the beginning of the workshop, throwing the ball around the room randomly as people provide a closing comment. Make your closing comment the last one of the group so you can include your thankyou and reminder of any follow up activities.

If the workshop has included a lot of ‘sitting’ at tables standing in a circle is an effective way to change the dynamics at the end.

RIRDC Rural Women’s Award – Reflections

The RIRDC Rural Women’s Award opened on August 1st. This is a great opportunity for Rural Women across Australia to receive a $10,000 financial bursary to implement their Award vision. Each State and Territory winner and runner-up also has the  opportunity to participate in the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Course and will be supported to develop an individual integrated leadership plan. I strongly encourage women to apply, it is a wonderful chance to develop skills and take the next step in your life journey.

I was fortunate to be involved in this fantastic Award as the SA winner in 2004. It benefited me in many  exciting ways including leadership opportunities, career development, expanding my network and through mentoring. I was just stepping out of a career in public and private  rural training to work with Bill in our business, Ag Consulting Co, developing my own place in the agricultural consulting world.

My project involved developing a facilitated learning group for rural women, becoming accredited to deliver the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) and being mentored to develop my career and leadership vision. As I reflect back over the last 8 years there are many direct links back to the award. Some of these ……

  • Working with Lindy Nelson and the Agri Womens Development Trust in New Zealand is a result of Lindy searching the internet as she completed her research project on rural women’s leadership. Lindy found the information about the award and the  the training I was doing. A phone call followed and three years later I am now travelling to NZ to facilitate programs for Lindy to develop women’s leadership skills.
  • The mentoring I received with Nicola Deakin not only assisted me in focusing on my career, her experience in coaching and NLP has seen me complete training in both, as well as becoming licensed to facilitate coaching training. We now build coaching and mentoring into our training and projects where ever possible to ensure learnings are implemented.
  • The MBTI training has been amazing – I have lost count how many times I have facilitated this workshop over the last 8 years. I have contextualised the content for farmers, advisers, researchers and resellers. This understanding of personality has influenced my interactions at all levels including facilitation techniques, coaching and  workshop delivery. It has become a standing joke in our home – and what personality type is that person mum?!
  • Leadership opportunities following the  award included chairing Government committees, and  it gave me the confidence to take on roles such as Chair of the Ag Excellence Alliance, National Chair of Partners in Grain and to apply for the Board of the GRDC.

So girls give the RIRDC Award a go! Nominate yourself or someone else this year so they too can enjoy a wonderful journey.

For more information vist the RIRDC website

The picture is a group of women in NZ at a recent First Steps Program.

Feedback… some more

Thankyou to the 32 people who are following my blog, I really appreciate your support.

I have been working away at this for 6 months now and this will be my 25 post .. quite an effort for someone who 12 months ago had never really read or followed a blog! For this I must thank Alice, my wonderful daughter, who got me started on the social media journey.

My book remains about 60% complete … work keeps getting in the way. Maybe over the Xmas break I will get time to write some more and the blog content will help with some of the gaps.

I would love some feedback from my readers about my blog

  • What have you enjoyed?
  • What would you like more of?
  • What would you like less of?
  • Is it worth your effort and time and mine?
  • Would you recommend workshopswithwow? please explain…
  • What other topics would you like explored in the blog?
  • Any other comments ……

Thanks again for your support and I appreciate any comments – either on the blog or email me

I look forward to hearing from you.


Feedback – it’s something we all like to have so we can improve .. even though sometimes we might not like what we hear!

Good constructive feedback helps us grow and learn, develop our skills and become better at what we do. Without it we may tend to keep doing what we have always done because it works for us.

I like to evaluate every workshop using several techniques if possible. These might include

  • Finishing off the day with an ORID – this is asking an Objective, Reflective, Interpretive and Decisional question of the group, it aims to captures the facts, feelings, key messages and changes.
  • If there isn’t time for an ORID …as a minimum asking for a closing comment from everyone
  • Evaluation forms
  • On-line surveys
  • Discussion with a co-facilitator or trusted colleague  (who you know will be honest!) What worked well? What could be done differently?
  • Contact a participant or two after the event and check in with them. Plan a few questions rather than having a general conversation. I like to know what they have implemented or changed since attending the workshop.
  • A self evaluation – if we are really honest with ourselves we know when things have gone well or could have been better – I like to think this through and make some notes in my journal to refer back to. Remember can be our own worst critic so don’t be too hard on yourself!

I’d really like to hear from all of you about feedback ..

  • What is the best way to get the feedback?
  • Are you really honest on evaluation forms?
  • Is it better to reflect and then provide feedback via an online survey later?
  • Will you complete a survey after you have left the workshop or is this too late?
  • What is the best way for a facilitator to receive honest feedback from you?

Finally as Ken Solly told us at an Adaptive Management workshop last week – “Milk every mistake for all it’s worth.”

Looking forward to hearing some thoughts …..

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