By: Shanoy Coombs
I started writing this post a while back and initially intended to cover the more negative aspects of workshops along the lines of “Why workshops don’t work in your favour” but now I’m sitting at the Social and Behaviour Change Communication summit here in Bali, Indonesia, soaking up so much knowledge and strategizing my next behaviour change moves that it shifted my tone.
Frankly, my initial trepidation and negative undertone was brought on by a few workshops that I had attended previously and sometimes left asking “Now what?” In fact, outside of my own skepticism, I’ve also interacted with other persons who have sometimes viewed workshops as “good for a time” or one of those “At least I get a break from the office” sort of affairs.
Now today, reformed, energized and ready to be more of a do gooder and change maker, I am more of a believer and want you to know that It’s not the workshop, It’s you! Quite a brazen conclusion but I’ve deliberately left off the “some workshops” and here’s why:
DO YOUR RESEARCH: Chances are, your bad workshop experience is linked to what you felt did not cover key areas you were interested in or were not engaging enough. Having coordinated and attended more than a few workshops over the past decade, I’ve discovered that a major way to avoid this pitfall is to thoroughly research the workshop, its objectives, the presenters and how they align to what your or your organization’s goals are. Sure your Human Resources Manager may have been handed a flier that pitched the session as “Highly effective for building strategic communication” but as the practitioner, your probe may reveal that the topics are ones you may already have been exposed to or the approach is one which may add no real value to your current post.
HAVE A GAME PLAN: Workshops, like conferences, summits et al can provide an excellent opportunity for meeting your personal and organizational goal, if you are strategic in your doing. Does the workshop or conference provide a list of speakers? Sponsors? Attendees? Are there specific persons you would love to connect with, unique best practices you are targeting? Write or type these down, Your pre- workshop preparation is as important if not more important than your actual presence. Plan ahead and maximize the value of being there
SCHEDULE AND PRIORITIZE: If you were to only do 2 sessions from any conference or workshop, which would it be? Seek to access workshop or conference materials ahead of sessions and carefully prioritize which are more impactful for your goals or your end game. I learnt this pretty early in but needed the reminder more than ever while at the Social and Behaviour Change communication summit while looking at agendas with close to 1200 attendees competing to book skills building workshops and fit into a diverse range of presentations, multiple “Interest sessions” running at the same time and almost everything being in line with my end game. It helped when I utilized the summit app and news and updates/ daily digest features to schedule sessions in order of “must dos” and alternates. Continue reading “IT’s NOT THE WORKSHOP, IT’s YOU: How to maximize your benefits everytime”