BYOWS (Bring Your Own Workshop Stuff)


Exactly 566 days ago, I wrote this post about my favorite things to have on hand for a training session. Today, over 1.5 years later, my “favorites” remain the same, although this list has evolved over a number of years. As you’re about to read, I also keep a few other go-to items on hand that didn’t make the list in the earlier post.

The other day, I was reminded why having a well-stocked, well-planned facilitator toolkit is an absolute necessity.

Last Friday, I hit the road to facilitate a day of workshops for a terrific phase(two)learning client. I arrived in the assigned meeting room a little over an hour before my morning session was scheduled to begin so I could get set up. Within moments, I was digging out my toolkit because there were no supplies whatsoever in the room.

I was really, really glad I had these 10 handy tools on hand…

1) Sharpie marker – because I needed to label table groups, because the room was not set up in a logical way and I didn’t have an option to move tables around.

2) My own self-stick flip chart pads – because the room had no easel nor flip charts…really glad I brought my own!

3) Masking tape – because the texture on the walls didn’t allow the self-stick flip chart sheets to stick very well.

4) Mr. Sketch markers – because I never facilitate without Mr. Sketch.

5) “Hello, my name is” labels – because I had an awesome group exercise planned where I needed to stick labels on people’s backs, and I doubted there would be anything to use. Plus, they’re always in my bag because you never know when you’ll need them.

6) Cough drops – because my throat was getting scratchy shortly into the day. (I wrote this off as a full day of facilitating being tough on the vocal cords. By Saturday evening, I knew otherwise…I’ve been battling bronchitis, a sinus infection AND an ear infection ever since. Hooray!)

7) Extra copies of my handouts – because I knew I wouldn’t have an opportunity to make extra copies in the middle of the day.

8) Printed cards with the SlideShare URL for the session slides – because why lug around more paper when you can use a terrific tool like SlideShare?

9) Moleskine notebook – because there were several little nuggets throughout the day that I wanted to jot down and remember. And I always have it with me, anyway.

10) Business cards – because I just had some new ones made and they look ah-mazing! And yes, of course…to connect with people.


The point here, friends, is this: Whether you are an in-house trainer at your organization, or a road warrior who is constantly setting up shop in different places, it’s important to be prepared. Markers dry out. Flip charts don’t always stick. Having a well-stocked arsenal of supplies not only helps you facilitate with confidence, but you present yourself as a master of your craft (and come on, we all want that reputation, amiright?).

Next week, I’m thrilled to be presenting a session at a conference in Las Vegas. You can bet your casino chips that I’ll have my toolkit ready. By the way…are you a Skillsoft client? Will you be at Perspectives 2014 next week? Look me up, or follow me on Twitter – I’ll be live tweeting throughout the event!

Your turn: Maybe you weren’t following this blog 566 days ago and didn’t see or comment on the earlier post. So I’m going to ask again: What’s in your toolkit? Share your must-have supplies and trainer hacks in the comments below, then share the post with your network so we can learn from one another.


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4 thoughts on “BYOWS (Bring Your Own Workshop Stuff)

  1. Ann says:

    Great tips Michelle. I also have my timer, music to play on breaks, masking tape, table top toys, and dice or scratch off cards to determine break times.

  2. Sheryl Palermo says:

    I love your tool kit Michelle! I agree with the Mr. Sketch! I.can’t.train.without.them! 1 thing I add is a USB drive. I have everything backed up on it, just in case the unthinkable happens.

    • Michelle says:

      Love that idea, Sheryl! I usually have one with me, but I’m afraid I don’t always have *all* of my materials saved to it. I’m definitely going to adopt this practice – thanks!! And…if being a marker diva is wrong, I don’t want to be right. ;)

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