Running An Interactive Workshop: 9 Activities and Online Tools

Interactive Workshop

Hoping to improve your team dynamics? Are you looking for a collaborative solution to a problem? Or looking for a way to let group members support one another on a project?

If you’re wondering how to gather and generate ideas in a single session, an interactive workshop can be a great way to go.

This article will help you prepare and run your own, with activities, ideas, and exercises to get you started.

How To Run An Interactive Workshop

First, let’s look at what an interactive workshop is and how it differs from a class, course, or group coaching session.

According to experts, an interactive workshop refers to “a structured set of facilitated activities for groups of participants who work together to explore a problem and its solutions, over a specific period of time, in one location.”[1]

This means they typically:

  • Are more dynamic and synergistic than self-paced classes or training programs
  • Center on interactive activities, rather than learning modules or lectures
  • Run as one-off events, as opposed to numerous sessions over a period of weeks or months.

Interactive workshops are a great way to encourage creative thinking and brainstorming, for example when your goal is to generate ideas, solve problems, or decide on a strategy as a group.

10 Steps To Run Your Workshop

Interactive workshops are a great way to encourage creative thinking and brainstorming, for example when your goal is to generate ideas, solve problems, or decide on a strategy as a group.

As a general rule, these workshops are run in person over a minimum of two to three hours with the help of a facilitator.

However, online interactive workshops are becoming increasingly more popular as they allow global teams to collaborate regardless of their physical location.

Whichever approach you pick, designing a successful workshop is all about planning.

Activities, resources, and templates need to be prepared in advance, as well as a program or agenda for the event.

Quenza Interactive Workshop Pathway
Software like Quenza can help you plan out and deliver interactive workshops, training programs, and coaching sequences. (Pictured: Quenza Pathway Tools)

The specifics of your event will of course be based on your specific workshop objectives and online/offline format, but running a workshop typically involves the following steps:[1]

  1. Selecting your participants, e.g. employees, external stakeholders, or representatives of the public
  2. Choosing appropriate and engaging activities, such as ice-breakers, games, role-play, or brainstorming
  3. Designating and briefing facilitators to encourage participation and coordinate your program
  4. Identifying a suitable location and equipment for your face-to-face workshop, e.g. AV equipment for recording, whiteboards, furniture, and space to move around
  5. Identifying a suitable platform for your online interactive workshop, e.g. Quenza
  6. Designing your program, i.e. the sequence of your activities and what resources you’ll require for each
  7. Marketing your workshop, sharing any important resources in advance, or (at the bare minimum!) letting participants know the details of the event
  8. Running the event itself
  9. Following up with facilitators to analyze any important data you’ve collected and develop reports, and
  10. Collecting feedback from participants so that you can refine and improve the experience for next time.

6 Examples of Interactive Workshop Activities

Like all group activities, successful interactive workshops are all about building and maintaining engagement.

Involved, active participants are more likely to build on each other’s strengths and ideas, ultimately leading to better solutions and outcomes from your workshop as a whole.

You can kick-start this process by opening with some ice-breaker or team-building activities. A few ideas include:

  1. “Speed Meet” Walks: Pairing your participants up for a few minutes at a time, with a list of questions they can use to get to know one another. A fun, professional twist on speed dating!
  2. Coat of Arms: Invite participants to sketch a coat of arms that they feel represents them. Go around in a circle and ask them to share a few sentences about what that design says about them.
  3. Whose Story? Ask group members to write a short, anonymous, but true anecdote about themselves. Pop them in a hat and read them out one at a time, then invite the group to guess who wrote the story.

There’s a unique array of Quenza activities that feed into these exercises.

These are great for coming up with prompts or a theme for your anecdotes when you’re getting participants to know each other on a more personal level. To illustrate, we mention a number of exercises you can access with a subscription to Quenza.

Quenza Interactive Workshop Activities
Activities like Quenza’s Top 5 Values (pictured) can be adapted into team-building activities for workshops.
  1. The Top 5 Values: The goal of this activity is to help participants identify the personal values that matter most to them. When sent to participants in advance, each member can then share their top values with the group and discuss why they consider them important. It’s also great as a teambuilding activity once you’ve broken the proverbial ice, as it encourages teammates to clarify the shared values that unite them. As shown above, The Top 5 Values walks participants through what values are before guiding them to identify their own.
  2. Strength Interview: This activity, pictured below, includes questions that participants can ask to discover their own strengths and share them with the group as an ice-breaker. Alternatively, you can send this exercise to participants ahead of your workshop, and they can use them as discussion prompts by breaking off into pairs or groups.
  3. You At Your Best: Share this exercise with participants ahead of your workshop to help them write a personal anecdote for Whose Story (mentioned above). This allows clients to share stories that demonstrate their strengths in action and even leverage them in later activities.
Quenza Strength Interview Interactive Workshop Activities
Quenza’s ‘Strength Interview’ provides useful discussion prompts and questions that can help workshop participants learn more about each other.

3 Best Ideas and Online Exercises

Of course, the most valuable exercises for your agenda will depend on your tangible objectives. What’s your overarching goal for the workshop, and what do you want participants to walk away with?

You’ll also need to think about how you’ll present your findings.

This will not only help you identify the right tools for the job but also tailor the activities so that reporting becomes much easier.

You can find plenty of customizable interactive workshop tools in Quenza’s Expansion Library.

Quenza I Can Interactive Workshop Tools
‘I Can/I Can’t’ is a fully customizable Quenza Expansion that invites workshop participants to explore the boundaries of potential solutions to a problem, as well as outside the box!

For instance, you might want to think about tailoring these Quenza templates to suit your program:

  1. I Can/Can’t Control: This coaching exercise, shown above, is very easily turned into a workshop tool for groups and teams. Where groups are trying to generate solutions to a problem, this tool can be used to define the playing field for brainstorming. You can also use it to encourage out-of-the-box thinking with “I Can” (or “We Can”) statements as a starting point.
  2. Implementation Intentions: Teams that are crafting a strategy might benefit from this exercise, which uses the “If-Then” technique to help them plan for obstacles. As pictured below, this activity encourages participants to anticipate potential challenges when action planning.
  3. Strengths Self-Reflective Questions: A group’s strengths are what they excel at. This exercise can be adapted to guide your team through a discovery of their collective strengths, which helps them more effectively leverage strengths in practice.
Quenza Implementation Intentions Interactive Virtual Workshop Ideas
Quenza’s ‘Implementation Intentions Expansion’ encourages workshop participants to anticipate and plan for potential challenges together.

Ultimate Virtual Tool For Your Interactive Workshops

When you’re planning your online and face-to-face workshops, good software is vital. The right tools can make a huge difference to your activities, program, and engagement factor, so you need to make sure you choose wisely.

Essentially, you’re looking for a single solution that will allow you to:

  • Plan out a realistic agenda (i.e., a coaching session planner)
  • Build and/or tailor workshop activities, resources, and templates
  • Send materials out to fellow facilitators and workshop participants
  • Gather or record group members’ ideas, input, and output
  • Analyze/summarize any relevant data and create reports, and
  • Share feedback forms and collect the results to evaluate and improve your workshop.

If you’re running an online workshop, then it’s absolutely crucial for your chosen platform to have a chat featurethis is where almost all your group members’ interactions will take place.

You’ll also need a way to:

  • Invite and manage workshop participants
  • Keep track of all the activities you send
  • Collect all their results, and
  • Track and build engagement.

This can amount to a lot of different apps if you chose to divide your tasks, so it’s best to stick with one platform that does it all: Quenza.

8+ Ways You Can Use Quenza For Your Workshops

The range of ways you can use Quenza as a workshop facilitator is incredibly broad.

With an array of specialized features for planning, building, and sharing activities, as well as tracking results, you can use Quenza’s toolkit for almost every aspect of your workshop.

As well as mapping out your program and creating all your activities, you could also:

    1. Use Expansion library templates to prepare activities like the samples we’ve introduced
    2. Design and send workshop feedback forms, then generate in-depth reports from your results
    3. Facilitate group chats for online interactive workshops
    4. Share custom Activities in advance, either as PDFs or fillable templates using the Activity Builder
    5. Keep notes on your workshop and even invite participants to annotate them
    6. Share resources like explainer videos, spreadsheet templates, presentations, and other files with group members
    7. Promote your workshop by uploading YouTube or Vimeo videos into Activities and sending them to participants
    8. Bulk-send Activities and materials to workshop attendees in advance.

When you drill right down to it, planning is more than half of what it takes to run a successful workshop.

With Quenza, you’ve essentially got an entire toolbox for every step of the process.

Final Thoughts

An interactive workshop is a fantastic way to get the very best out of the people you bring together, in a very short amount of time compared to spread-out meetings.

It’s true that facilitation skills go miles toward achieving that, but the foundation of a successful workshop is really built behind the scenes with great planning.

Now that you know how to put together a workshop of your own, you’re ready to get started using Quenza’s toolkit. Start your 1 dollar, 1-month trial today and tell us about your project in the comments.

References

  1. ^ Pavelin, K., Pundir, S., & Cham, J. A. (2014). Ten simple rules for running interactive workshops. PLoS Computational Biology, 10(2), e1003485.

About the author

Catherine specializes in Organizational and Positive Psychology, helping entrepreneurs, clinical psychologists and OD specialists grow their businesses by simplifying their digital journeys.

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