As a facilitator, it’s not just about turning up on the day and delivering the learning programme to your delegates, although to others it may appear that way, however I tend to share the more positive aspects of the job I love most of the time! Actually, there is a lot of pre-workshop preparation, honest.
You need to discuss the objectives of the workshop with the client, put together a detailed proposal, agree this and then agree a delivery date. Then you need to develop the workshop, including PowerPoint slides if you are using them plus any handout materials for the delegates. Normally, there is a lead time of between 6-8 weeks between contact and delivery of the workshop, although I did turn around one in a week once.
In addition, the majority of learning programmes I deliver, are under-pinned by each delegate receiving their own unique Insights Discovery profile. This requires each person completing a 15-minute online evaluator, from which their unique 24-page profile is produced. These profiles then need to be printed, bound and also analysed.
If I am working with a team, a team wheel is also produced to explore team-dynamics as part of the learning on the workshop.
I also send out a pre-workshop email to delegates, to explain the objectives and I always give them an opportunity to connect with me via various social media channels, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Yours Behaviourally or Ngagementworks website ,so that they can find out a little more about myself and Ngagementworks. This starts the process of building rapport. I also let them know they can contact me with any questions or queries, if they need.
Another thing that needs organising is the venue and accommodation. Personally, if I have more than 2-hours to travel to where the learning programme is taking place, I always travel the night before. The venue is usually chosen by the client, with guidance from me on the size and layout of the room.
On the occasion in question, due to the distance, I had to travel the night before, stay in a hotel and on the morning of the workshop, travel to the venue which was about 8 miles away. I’d trained at the venue previously, so knew where it was. I was also accompanied by a colleague’s son, who was spending two weeks on work experience with my company. This would be his first experience of seeing how a workshop was facilitated and what was involved. I had to be on the top of my game.
I explained to my colleague’s son all the pre-workshop preparation that took place. On the morning of the workshop, we set off on the short journey from our hotel to the venue in good time. I like to allow at least an hour to set up prior to the workshop beginning so there is no rush plus time for a coffee and getting in the zone. It normally takes about half an hour to set up and delegates usually start arriving in the training room half an hour to 20 minutes before the start time. At this workshop, there were 30 delegates.
Arriving at the venue, we checked in at the reception. The receptionist asked if I knew where everything was, I said I did as I’d trained there before. So off we went to B3, the training room on the 2nd floor, where I had facilitated a team workshop previously. We began to set up the room, all in good time. Delegate learning packs and handouts on the desks, projector screen erected, projector connected to the laptop, music and speakers set up and flipcharts and pens strategically placed around the room. I looked around the room and was happy everything was in place.
Finally, I ran through the slides using my remote mouse pointer as a final check it was working. It was then that my colleague’s son asked me what time delegates arrived. I told him usually between half an hour and 20 minutes before the start time. “I thought you had said that, so where are they? It’s 9.15 and 15 minutes before the start.”
Good point I thought, with 30 of them, there is always a few early arrivals. With that in mind I headed to reception. “Excuse me, have any of the delegates arrived for the Ngagementworks training”, I asked. “Yes, they are all here and waiting in room A5.”, replied the receptionist. “But I’m in B3”, I responded. “Oh, we changed the room to one slightly larger, due to the size of the group.” NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
I ran up the 2 flights of stairs faster than an Olympic sprinter. I explained to my colleague’s son that we were in the wrong room and had to pack up as quickly as possible and head to the other room. What took half an hour to get ready took 5 minutes to pack up!
We entered A5 with 5 minutes to spare to be greeted by 30 people smiling at us. “Good morning everyone, pleased to meet you, isn’t the traffic a nightmare this morning?”, I said. This was greeted with nods of agreement.
Fortunately, I was able to facilitate the opening without the need for my computer, or projector and got the delegates completing an ice-breaker activity whilst we set everything up. The delegates were none the wiser as to what really happened.
Lesson Learnt: Never assume.
All the best, Nick