I was with a gang of facilitators a couple of weeks ago comparing notes on how to manage workshops and we started to discuss what we pack for workshops and the hints and tips we’ve developed over the years. So…here they are.
1. The basics
For every workshop you will always need: coloured post-it notes, masking tape and fat pens. With this basic kit, you’ll always survive a workshop. This assumes that biros, flip chart paper and writing pads are available in the facility – which is almost always the case.
However please note:
– always use Post-It branded post-it notes. They’re expensive but much better than other brands which don’t always stick
– go for 2 sizes of post-it: the ‘standard’ and the ‘large’ and get a variety of colours (not just plain yellow)
– go for fat pens so wrIting is always legible. We used to have scented (smelly) pens at my old agency, but my favourite brand is Berol
– avoid Sharpies. They’re great, but the ink is permanent. (at least the ones I’ve used) I’ve ruined so many shirts with these. Whatever you use, they’ve got to be water-soluble
– Blu-tack is great as a back up and is still useful…but I’m now a big fan of masking tape: quick, easy to use and won’t mark walls
2. Added Extras
Hooters or horns are great if you’re running a big workshop as they’re brilliant for attracting attention, getting people to come back from coffee breaks. Plus they’re fun to play with.
Dots or heart stickers. Great for voting for ideas, highlighting specific outputs, etc.
Toys are great to add playfulness and fun to a session. The favourites are bendy men, play doh, lego and juggling balls. They can be used for energisers too.
I’ve recently started bringing A3 drawing pads to session where people are going to working in 2’s or 3’s, particularly in creative sessions. Having a drawing pad immediately puts you in a creative zone and they’re easy to carry and display your work
Pack a few ‘clouds’ too. Great for directing people to the workshop and acting as headers for different sections.
I also love those portable – stand up flipcharts. Great for working in small tables or where wall pace is limited
3. Preparing Your Kit
The biggest discovery for me in recent times has been the zip-lock plastic bag. Perfect for separating out your various bits and bobs and making the pre-workshop set up fast and efficient. Either separate out your various bits e.g. post-its, pens etc or combine them as ‘sets’ for each table group. Getting your room set up as efficiently as you can and stopping your stationery spilling everywhere is essential
And finally, get yourself a nice wheelie bag to transport everything in. My favourite is the Eastpak TransverzS. Light, nice size, lots of compartments and expandable. Just perfect.
So, here’s my suggestions for what to pack for workshops. I’m always looking for new ideas, so if you’ve got any suggestions, please get in touch.