Staging a facilitated workshop - the STEPS

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Called upon in the world of drama, staging is the process used to choose, design, adapt and modify a performance space for a theatre or film production. The STEPS of staging can be used when running your own facilitated workshop.

Using a handy acronym, various elements should be considered to ensure you set the stage for, design and lead a workshop that is memorable, engaging and truly creative. In the following blog post, we explain the five staging elements to help you harness the power of facilitation at your workshop.

Space

The space you hold and the atmosphere you maintain shouldn’t just be a room. It should be a vehicle for change. Your space should provide a comfortable and creativity-inducing environment that allows teams to have the conversations they need to have and establish the social connections they long to create.

The arrangement of the seating, décor, placement of equipment, lighting and even the room temperature all make a difference. As facilitators, we choose not to use tables as part of our seating arrangements. As well as getting in the way, tables minimise the space groups can collaborate within.

In addition, tables also pre-determine the front of the room and in turn, direct attention to specific speakers. This can have productivity-inhibiting effects on speakers and listeners situated towards the back of the room. In addition to this, the lack of tables scraps the seating psychology that can create stress and anxiety before a workshop even begins.

Distractions, including ambient noise from traffic and machinery, should be limited to enhance the area as a personal performance space too.

Timing

Making time for what really matters is a mantra that many people live by in their personal and professional lives. Whilst we believe in the advantages of facilitating unhurried conversations, rather than sticking to a script, it’s important to acknowledge that the workshop will have to start and finish at specific times. Getting your timings right regarding your workshop’s length, pace and breaks will ensure all the time you have is spent wisely.

Eventfulness

A good facilitated workshop is about enhancing human interaction and experiences. Making your event memorable and engaging however comes down to more than providing the right space and structure. Adding an element of surprise or delight can help team members spark the ideas that lead to significant innovation.

Product

Many facilitated workshops revolve around a particular product, an artefact that delivers a basis for action or represents a group achievement. Using a tangible product to your advantage, rather than allowing it to stem creativity will bring the event to life, even for participants who couldn’t be there in person.

Style

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Every facilitator has their own style. You must adapt this style to the needs of each group to deliver an appropriate and effective workshop that suits their requirements and the workshop’s purpose. Understanding your current style is the best starting point as The Open University explains:

“Those who have a directing style will tend to want to tell the group what to do. This style can be closely associated with training, as a trainer will tend to structure the group and what it does. Cooperation involves a partnership between the facilitator and the group, where decisions on how the group operates are made on an equal basis. A suggesting style leaves the group to decide how they work together. The facilitator makes inputs to the group only at the group’s suggestion.”

Before you design your workshop ask yourself “Who am I going to be to this group?” The answer should differ every time.

We don’t just train facilitators, we assist leaders and their teams in unlocking the benefits facilitation brings. Discover why your team needs a facilitator or get in touch direct to find out what makes us different.