What Are the Different Types of Workshop Activities?

D. Nelson

People participate in workshops when they want to improve certain skills or acquire knowledge by discussing topics and participating in activities with other people who have similar aspirations. In schools, workshops are a common learning tool. For example, in writing workshops, students share and critique their work so they can improve as writers, readers and editors. In a management workshop, as another example, participants might gather in groups and brainstorm for new ideas about how to lead effectively and engage in activities that enable them to experience different managerial practices firsthand. Some of the most common workshop activities are discussions among participants, activities that encourage people to work together and contests or games that can be exciting for participants but also allow facilitators to assess the participants' performances.

People attend workshops to improve certain skills or gain knowledge.
People attend workshops to improve certain skills or gain knowledge.

Managers from an organization might attend management or leadership workshops. Some of the most common workshop activities in this context are group discussions in which participants talk about what makes a good leader. When effective, this activity can give people fresh ideas about how to view leadership success. It might also give them insight into their own preconceived notions. At the same time, this kind of activity acts as an icebreaker that makes people more comfortable speaking aloud.

Workshops often are led by an industry expert.
Workshops often are led by an industry expert.

It also is common for workshop activities to include presentations. Unlike conventional classrooms, however, it is not a facilitator or instructor who gives presentations. Instead, each participant or team of participants might present on a particular subject. This is a great way to add variety to a workshop. These kinds of workshop activities also help people learn how to work together, especially when they are forced to work with individuals whom they have never met before and with whom they might not have much in common.

Participants may gather in groups to brainstorm new ideas.
Participants may gather in groups to brainstorm new ideas.

In many cases, workshops are successful only if all of the participants feel comfortable enough to express their ideas and engage in activities and discussions. For this reason, it is common for facilitators to have participants perform trust exercises. These are workshop activities in which people learn to rely on their fellow team members. Facilitators might also have participants share stories or unexpected facts about themselves to help people overcome their prejudices.

Critique may be given at a writing workshop.
Critique may be given at a writing workshop.

Some workshop activities might pertain specifically to a field or industry. People in self-help workshops, for example, might take turns sharing experiences that they have had bettering their own lives. In a painting workshop, on the other hand, a period of time during each session might be dedicated to learning a new technique. In acting workshops, participants might be required to act out scenes during each meeting.

Team-building workshops may include extreme sports.
Team-building workshops may include extreme sports.

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