Can you think of a workshop that was engaging? One that was boring?

What did you like or not like about it? Maybe these sound familiar:

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  • welcoming

  • organized

  • relevant info

  • interactive

  • practice opportunities

  • feedback

  • appealing materials

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  • unwelcoming

  • disorganized

  • irrelevant info

  • not interactive

  • no practice opportunities

  • no feedback

  • boring materials

Planning Your Workshop

Batman looking interested

Imagine a workshop that you might create. What would it be like?

🕵🏼‍♀️ Who's your audience?

🎯 What do they need to learn or be able to do?

📍 What do they already know?

💡 How are you going to help them learn what they need to know?

❓ How will you know if and to what degree they've learned what you set out to teach?

How To Plan An Engaging Workshop

dart on target Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash

In traditional lesson design, you decide what info to cover, plan activities, and then make an assessment.

However, backward design leads to more engagement and transferable learning.

Steps in backward design:

  1. Define learning outcomes: identify what learners need to be able to do by the end of the workshop.

  2. Create an assessment to measure learning.

  3. Plan activities that prepare learners to successfully complete the assessment.


In which order should you plan the following steps in backward design?

What Kinds Of Activities Make A Workshop Engaging?

several people engaged in activity together Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

Having some structure to your workshop can help learners get and stay engaged. The main parts of a workshop include the beginning, middle, and end.

Here are questions to consider for each of these main stages. How you are going to...


  • Welcome participants

  • Get their attention

  • Share objectives

  • Check background knowledge


  • Present new information

  • Involve learners

  • Apply knowledge/skills


  • Check understanding

  • Review key information

  • Wrap up

What About Online?

people on online video call on laptop Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

Is it possible to have an engaging workshop that's fully online? Of course! It does take some extra planning, though.

Things to consider:

  • Have you used the web conferencing platform to host a workshop before? If not, familiarize yourself with the tools and settings you'll need to facilitate an online workshop.

  • Do you want to ask someone to be a co-host, at least the first time you host an online workshop, in case something goes wrong?

  • How are you going to welcome participants? Will you run an ice breaker activity?

  • How are you going to invite them to interact? Chat? Poll? Breakout rooms?

Take Action

Bernie Sanders saying

So, what can you do to plan engaging activities for a workshop? Try these ideas:


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