Frustrated that your workshops fall flat or fail to achieve your objectives? Take heart. With thoughtful preparation and a few tricks of the trade, you can design workshops and meetings that get results.

This blog post introduces a topic covered in our NEW course, Design Your Facilitation Strategy. For more information, check out the course page or download the course syllabus.

If you’ve ever led a workshop, you know what a struggle it can be to create an engaging and productive event.

It can be agonizing to spend hours planning a meeting or workshop only to fall short of achieving your objectives—and it happens more often than you might think.

In a Harvard study, more than 70% of senior managers surveyed found most meetings to be unproductive and inefficient.1

Three Keys to Building a Better Workshop

So how do experienced facilitators plan workshops that engage participants and inspire action?

In addition to leveraging principles such as co-creation and visual thinking, top workshop facilitators consider the three Ps:

  1. Plan: Effective workshops demand thoughtful planning, yet many people tend to underestimate the power of preparation. Simply creating an agenda is not enough.
  2. Purpose: Workshops that create buy-in and put people on the path to achieving a goal have well-defined objectives and specific desired outcomes.
  3. People: Successful workshops are geared to a specific audience. You need to select the right attendees and the right people to lead the work to most efficiently get the results you want.

The Mechanics of Designing an Effective Workshop

While workshop planning takes time and strategic thinking, you don’t have to start from scratch.

Our Workshop Planning Canvas helps you make critical planning decisions that provide a solid foundation for designing a workshop that generates excitement and forwards your goals.

Over two decades of planning and facilitating highly effective workshops, we’ve developed an adaptable, repeatable system workshop facilitators can use to build workshops that move people to action.

We’ve packaged these learnings into our latest course, Design Your Facilitation Strategy

What will I learn in the Design Your Facilitation Strategy course?

During this three-day course, you will learn to:

  • Use people-centered design to improve workshop planning
  • Define the purpose and objectives of your session
  • Assemble your workshop plan systematically using building blocks, considering alternatives for different audience needs
  • Validate the plan through feedback and craft a run of show plan to prepare for delivery

Who should attend the Design Your Facilitation Strategy course?

Engaging for anyone who runs a lot of meetings, this course is particularly effective for the following people:

  • Consultants working to get their clients on the same page
  • Managers looking to achieve better buy-in and increase their influence

What will I take away from the course?

At the end of the course, you will leave with:

  • A workshop planning template with building blocks you can use and reuse to plan future agendas
  • A personalized agenda and workshop plan for a large, high-risk, and/or distributed effort
  • A personalized run of show to ensure smooth delivery

Download the course syllabus for a full description of learning objectives and course details.

How do I enroll?

Spring 2022 course enrollment is now open! And to learn more today, head to our Design Your Facilitation Strategy course page.

1 Harvard Business Review. Stop the Meeting Madness. July-August 2017. Found at Stop the Meeting Madness (

Additional Resources

To learn more about XPLANE’s workshop facilitation thought leadership, check out the following resources: