These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…for Training Workshops

A Few of My Favorite Things...for Training Workshops

What a busy couple of weeks at the day job! We are getting ready for a big event on Tuesday; a one-day offsite workshop for about 50 employees. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this workshop! It’s the first of its kind for this particular group of employees, and it’s going to be so much fun to facilitate.

Preparing for this workshop has me thinking about all the details that go into the execution of successful training event. Here are my top 10 go-to supplies that, regardless of workshop topic, that I’ve relied on for years:

1. Post-it Flip Chart Pads – In my opinion, the gold standard for flip chart paper. The sticky back makes it perfect for posting and moving throughout a session. I personally love the ruled and gridline varieties for my own flip charts, as they help me keep my lettering straight and neat. But I like the regular, unruled paper for small group exercises.

2. Mr. Sketch markers These are the ONLY markers worth spending money on. Trust me on this one. I’ve used about every marker imaginable over the years, and I have pledged my undying loyalty to Mr. Sketch. The colors look great on flip charts, they write nicely, and hello…they’re scented. What more could you want in a marker?

3. Tweaker Speakers – I have spent a lot of time on the road, doing workshops and training sessions in countless locations. That means travel, and travel means convenience is king. These little speakers are inexpensive, produce a great sound for a small-to-medium size room/group, and are so easy to toss in your bag. Perfect for hooking up to your laptop and playing some tunes before, during or after a session. Speaking of tunes…..

4. Playlist – For the longest time, I kept a playlist on Grooveshark for training sessions. I wrote a post about it awhile back; you can check it out here. I recently switched to Spotify, for the portability…I can have my playlists on my iPhone, iPad, and laptop – all ready to launch at a click. I love to continually add new songs and mix things up! Participants love the fun vibe it brings to the session!

5. Post-it notes – I always-always-always keep pads of Post-its on participant tables for people to take notes, vote on polls, and bookmark pages. There’s just something so chaotically creative about a flurry of Post-its on a wall, capturing ideas and thoughts…

6. Fishbowl/Tickets A favorite method for gaining participation is to hand out tickets for a chance to win a prize when people ask questions, volunteer, or otherwise participate. This little Pavlovian experiment never fails to engage groups and stimulate discussion!

7. Presentation Clicker I’m a wanderer. It is nearly impossible for me to remain at the front of a room while I’m presenting. You might find me sitting at a table with participants, standing at the back of the room, or walking around referring to flip charts or other props. If I’m using a slide deck, this handy little guy helps me keep my place in my presentation without having to awkwardly make my way back to the front of the room to advance my slide.

8. Candy – I like candy. People like candy. Therefore, I have candy on tables.

9. Masking Tape – Sometimes, the venue provides flip charts, or I might be out of Post-it flip chart paper. In a pinch, keeping a roll of masking tape in my bag has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion! (I’ve also used it for makeshift name tags for a few participants when I ran out and had a bigger-than-expected group!)

10. Timer – I used to keep a small, digital kitchen timer in my bag to keep group exercises on track during a session. Well, technology has changed this. I now use the timer on my iPhone, and it works beautifully! It’s a great way to incorporate a simple, mobile element into my classroom that serves a very convenient purpose. And I know, since I am *never* without my phone, that I will always have it with me!

Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens…these are just a few of my favorite things…that I consistently use in my training workshops. I could probably come up with dozens more! Many of these particular items are sitting in my office right now, packed up and waiting for Tuesday’s event. I will be taking some photos of the event, and will do a recap afterward. I can’t wait!

Your turn: What are your must-have items for a successful training session?

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7 thoughts on “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…for Training Workshops

  1. dawn mahoney says:

    My list is very similar to yours! Only one I didn’t see is blue painter’s tape. I take that everywhere! Sometimes Post It’s dont stick or for as long as we need them to. Spend the extra pennies on good quality (Scotch brand).

  2. Alice says:

    Great list. Also similar to mine.

    1. Toys for the tables. Studies report keeping your hands active, keeps the brain tuned in (and they are going to tune out at some point in time). Chenille Sticks (new name for pipe cleaners), stress balls, etc. The art work created with the chenille sticks are worthy of your fishbowl/tickets.

    2. Koosh ball. When it gets quiet, and it does, or no one wants to answer – start tossing the koosh ball. Also use it in activities. i.e. after lunch – everyone stand and toss the koosh ball – the one catching it shares something they learned or rediscovered from the morning session.

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Alice! I love both of these as well…I just stocked up on some new table toys, as a matter of fact…my Slinkies (is that the plural of Slinky? Ha!) were losing their slink, and my Play-Doh was drying up! :) It’s amazing how just having a little something to manipulate helps people stay focused.

      A Koosh ball is also a great method to keep a group engaged! That reminds me of a funny memory as a participant in a workshop years ago…the facilitator actually had a rubber chicken that she would toss around during discussions, reviews, energizers, etc. During a review session, she tossed the chicken to someone, but missed (by a long shot)…and hit a hotel employee who was restocking the coffee station in the head! I’ll never forget that!

      Thanks for your comment…have a great day!

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