Instructor-Led Workshops

Created: 2021-11-18
Last updated:2022-01-10
Status: Effective

This guide is continuously improved — check this page regularly and use the latest version.
Questions and comments:

You can also download the PDF version of this guide.


This document is only for trainers who give training workshops for If you’re a learner interested in self-study, use the manual and the eLearning course instead.

The purpose and nature of this guide

This is a complete, detailed guide that is continuously tested and improved so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Its goal is to help you deliver successful training workshops for

Trainers' options

Following this program is not mandatory for trainers, but it’s highly recommended. You have the choice to use it in full, in part, or not at all.

Alternatively, if you prefer to deliver the content using slides instead of in a hands-on workshop, you can use the standard slide deck.


If, while using this program, you come up with ideas for improving it based on your hands-on experience, let us know via so that we can adjust the guide and make your input available to everyone.

Format of the workshops is focused on being practical and easy to use, and this should be reflected in its training programs as well. That’s why we prefer to have interactive workshops rather than lectures.

Your primary role would be that of a facilitator who helps participants find their way, and one who helps the information emerge organically, rather than being a lecturer. This doesn’t mean that there’s something fundamentally wrong with lectures – just that that’s not the best method of training for

The workshops can be face-to-face or online.

Duration of the workshop

You need 13 to 16 hours for a workshop based on this guide.

The approximate duration of each unit is mentioned in the guide, and it’s a good idea to continuously compare the actual time spent with the planned duration to see whether you need to slow down or speed up the remainder.

You should divide the content among sessions in such a way that sections are not split across into two sessions if possible. Don’t forget to add enough short breaks during the sessions.

Room setup for face-to-face workshops

For face-to-face workshops, it’s best to move the desks to the sides and have an open room. Participants can walk around, talk to each other, or sit down and think individually as they please.

Ask the participants to wear name tags, so that you can remember their names and use them when necessary.

Use boards, flip charts, sticky notes, and similar tools to capture their ideas. It’s best to use physical tools to add more physical activity and make the workshop more active. Attach a large print of the diagram on a wall, and write the activity names on it as you progress through the workshop.

Ask the participants to silence their phones, laptops, and tablets and put them in their bags.

Room setup for online workshops

We use breakout rooms for group activities. Any video conferencing platform that supports breakout rooms should work fine for online workshops; e.g., Jitsi, BigBlueButton, Adobe Connect, WebEx, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom.

Let the participants know beforehand that their video should be on all the time. It helps make the session more effective. Check to make sure that every participant has entered their name on the platform, so that you and others can easily address them.

Use a mind mapping application to collect and organize ideas. Share your screen in the video conferencing application and let everyone see the mind map at all times.


We only use a few slides in online workshops, and share the mind map the rest of the time. In face-to-face workshops, you can use a few slides, but you can also (preferably) manage without them.

Don’t be tempted to add more slides, as they limit the interactivity and effectiveness of the program.

Pre-workshop work

Participants don’t need to do anything before the workshop. The whole of the training happens during the workshop, under your supervision. It works even better if the participants don’t have any knowledge of at all when starting the workshop.

Additional resources for the participants

People learn, understand, and remember much better when they have to work something out rather than getting an instant result. Therefore, it’s best if they don’t use the manual or any other resource during the workshop.

Number of participants

The optimum number of participants is 6 to 12 people. Having more people in the workshop will limit its interactive and engaging nature.

The scenario

The whole workshop is based on a scenario that is explained in this guide. We’ve selected a project that is not too big and complicated to become overwhelming, but not too small and simple to make it difficult to carry out activities. The subject of the project is also relatively easy to understand for people from any background.

While the scenario should work well for everyone, if you have in-house programs where all participants come from the same company and are used to working on similar projects, you have the option to take one of their own projects as the scenario. It makes the workshop more interesting for the participants, but it also adds more risks for you as you have to be prepared to extract the necessary information in real time, and also to make sure that they don’t focus too much on the technical aspects of the project.

Pre-workshop communications

When someone registers for the workshop, send them an email to explain the following:

If the date/time or existence of the workshop is not yet finalized, wait until it’s finalized and then send the email.

It’s a good idea to send them a calendar invite as well, especially if you have participants from different timezones and suspect there may be mistakes made in converting timezones. You can add a copy of the pre-workshop email to the notes of the calendar invite as well, to make sure they are always accessible.

Format and objective of the workshop

Some people may attend your workshop because their company has arranged it, and they may not know what to expect. Even individuals who select your course and pay for it themselves may not pay enough attention to the specifications. To avoid surprises, tell them about the format and objective of the workshop; for example:

This program is an interactive workshop where you and your peers will work together on a scenario and learn through that experience. We won’t use lectures, slides, handouts, etc.

The goal of this workshop is to help you understand how you can set up a minimalist project management system based on

It’s a good idea to allow potential participants to cancel their order and get a full refund before the workshop if they change their mind. If you’re going to rely on their registration for finalizing the course, give them a clear deadline for cancellation, and a clear cancellation policy.

Practical information

Tell them all the practical information they may need about the workshop, such as the following:

  • Trainer: {name and contact information}
  • Date and time: {for all sessions, including the timezone when needed}
  • Location: {including information about parking places and public transport for face-to-face workshops or supported devices for online ones}
  • Catering: {for face-to-face workshops only!}
  • Lunch break time: {for online workshops, so that people can be prepared}
  • Pre-workshop work: Nothing!
  • What to bring: Nothing!

The goal is to leave no potential question unanswered. When you receive questions after sending the email, check to see whether it’s something you need to cover in future emails.

Ground rules

Edit the following ground rules to suit your style, and explain them at the beginning:

  • Be on time.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Participate in the discussions and encourage others to do the same.
  • Be brief when sharing your opinion (maximum 40 seconds at a time).
  • Forget about emails and messages from work and friends.
  • Be curious – listen actively and try to understand others.
  • Challenge the idea, not the person.
  • Avoid side conversations and focus on the main topic.
  • Don’t worry about nitty-gritty details – focus on the strategic level instead.

Additional ground rules for face-to-face workshops:

  • Wear your name tag all the time.
  • Silence your phone, laptop, and tablet, and leave them in your bag.

Additional ground rules for online workshops:

  • Make sure your profile shows your full name.
  • Make sure your video is on all the time, except during the breaks.
  • Use headphones instead of speakers to minimize audio feedback.
  • Stay in a quiet room and use a quality microphone.
  • Mute your microphone when not speaking.
  • Leave your phone outside the room.

Let them know that you will ask them for ideas to improve the ground rules at the end of the workshop. This has two advantages: first, it’s a good source of great ideas (don’t forget to tell us about those); and secondly, it helps increase their buy-in.

The reality is that some people won’t read the email carefully, and that’s why you need to review the ground rules at the beginning of the workshop as well.

Workshop preparation

Make sure everything is prepared for the workshop and that participants will have a smooth experience. For example:

Remember that you’re accountable for the smooth delivery of the workshop. If someone else is responsible for those arrangements, you still have to supervise or double-check to make sure everything is okay.

Post-workshop evaluation

We recommend two rounds of post-workshop evaluation:

  1. Immediately after the workshop, to evaluate their satisfaction with the workshop. You can ask them to fill in the form at the end of the workshop, or email the form the next day. The first option usually draws more participants, but the second one has more reliable results.
  2. After 6 months, to evaluate the effectiveness of what they’ve learned.

If you are an accredited trainer, or willing to become one, the evaluation must be done by, because learner satisfaction is a criterion in trainer accreditation. The result of the evaluation will be stored in our system and you will have access to it as well.

Note that the satisfaction of the learners is NOT the ultimate goal – the ultimate goal is having effective training that can have a positive impact on their lives. There is a correlation between these two, and that’s why learner satisfaction is used as an approximate proxy for the effectiveness of the program, although this has to be done with caution.

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