Tips for Workshop Leaders

Factsheet - ISSN 1198-712X   -   Copyright Queen's Printer for Ontario
Agdex#: 057
Publication Date: 02/95
Order#: 94-007
Last Reviewed: 11/97
History: Reprinted February, 1995
Written by: Chuck Bokor - Rural Development Secretariat/OMAFRA

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Administrator
  3. Designer
  4. Facilitator
  5. What Is Your Role?
  6. Related Links


Congratulations! You've taken a giant step in leading a workshop for your group - pulling together the necessary resources to make an effective presentation.

This tip sheet contains guidelines that will help you plan and present a good workshop.


Anyone involved in making the arrangements for the workshop is taking the administrator's role. Here is a checklist of this person's duties:

  • schedule the program
  • book suitable facilities for the program
  • reserve equipment needed by the trainer
  • make arrangements for catering meals and refreshment breaks
  • promote the program (brochures, newspapers. etc.)
  • process application forms and fees
  • answer questions about the program
  • choose who may attend (limits to numbers?)
  • mail letter of confirmation and pre-course work
  • call or write everyone in case the program has been cancelled
  • arrange for someone to handle welcome signs, name tags, registration kits, and similar duties during the workshop
  • send any information or course work to participants ahead of time

After the workshop...

  • pay for all expenses such as trainer's fees, catering, facilities, supplies, etc.
  • send any follow-up material, such as certificates, thank-you notes and evaluation results to people who came to the workshop
  • review evaluations and work with the trainer to make changes for next time


A designer creates the 'how' of a program, based on the 'what,' 'when,' 'where' and 'who' information gathered ahead of time.

  1. What are the needs and interests of the people who will be coming?
  2. What creative ways can be used to help them learn?
  3. Is the information up-to-date, and correct?
  4. What do you want people to know, understand, do or believe in at the end of the workshop?
  5. Can these goals be reached? How will you know when they have been reached?
  6. Do all the activities fit into the time allowed, and is there enough space in the facility?

Steps In Designing An Effective Workshop

  1. Gather Information – facts, figures, interests
  2. Develop and Clearly State Goals – how many people; time allowed;room size; expectations, potential problems
  3. Decide on Major Areas – 3-4 main topics; brainstorm possible methods or activities
  4. Slot the Schedule – fit major areas, introduction, closure, meals, etc. into the outline
  5. Select Suitable Methods – think about their situation, your training style, and the workhsop goals as you begin to create the program
  6. Complete the Design – develop your 'plan,' using various techniques which make th eprogram focus on the learner and not on the trainer
  7. Evaluate the Designhave you allowed for:
    • Reflection=time for feelings;
    • Reaction=time for concerns;
    • Redesign=time to be flexible;
    • Recognition=time for sharing;
    • Recreation=time for fun


A facilitator of a workshop makes learning easier. The word facilitate means 'to make easy.' Adults should not be treated as if they were youngsters in elementary school. The focus should be on what they want or need, not on the expertise and 'wisdom' of the trainer.

Tips to facilitate learning:

  • have a humanistic approach; see the learner as a thinking-feeling human being, able to share a lifetime of experiences during the workshop
  • encourage people to share their ideas and concerns
  • be supportive and recognize everyone's contributions
  • be sure that the information or skills are useful to them in their back-home situation
  • change the workshop design to suit the needs and interests of the group as you go
  • encourage participants to take responsibility for their own learning

Here are some techniques to do just that...

  • ask participants ahead of time for their needs and interests - (call them or mail your request)
  • use ice-breakers and get-acquainted activities
  • ask them to get into pairs, then interview each other and introduce their partners to the group
  • have them work in groups: solo, pairs, trios, fours, etc. (use different groupings for different activities such as brainstorming, idea exchange, sharing information, addressing concerns, etc.)
  • use case studies, demonstrations, observer 'fish-bowls' and role-plays to show real-life situations
  • vary your style of presentation by using audio-visuals such as overhead transparencies, slides, videos, films and flipcharts
  • ask questions, encourage discussion.

Focus on the learner!

What Is Your Role?

Three different jobs very important in the planning and leading of all workshops:

  1. Administrator
  2. Designer
  3. Trainer/Facilitator

You may have to do parts or all of each role sometimes taking off one hat to reveal another. Be prepared to do all three!

Many resources to help you develop an effective workshop are available. Most of the guidelines and tips included in this factsheet have been adapted from:

A Handbook for Trainers and Fitness Leaders
Ministry of Tourism and Recreation
Printed by the Queen's Printer for Ontario
Province of Ontario, Toronto, Canada (1983)

Related Links

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300