Workshop planning resources

Excerpted from Work the Room

Learn how to plan workshops from these recommended resources.


The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters

By Priya Parker

Mind blowing. I’ve run workshops since about 2005, so I didn’t expect to learn that much. I was so cynical and so wrong. Parker deconstructs why we gather, where , and how in a way that’s easily accessible and immediately applicable. As I finished each chapter, I questioned assumptions and common routines that have guided my practice for ages. And then I went and rethought birthdays, dinner parties, dinner… You have to read this book. It tears everything down and shows you how to rebuild, so your workshops are perfectly optimized and outcome-oriented.

Moments of impact: How to design strategic conversations that accelerate change

By Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon

Although Ertel and Solomon focus Moments of Impact on conversations about strategy, their thoughtful, step-by-step approach to planning, framing, and facilitating workshops applies to any type of workshop (engage multiple perspectives, frame the issues, set the scene, make it an experience). Once you understand all  design conversations are strategicconversations, you shift from tactical, project-focused workshops to workshops move your client towards the world they want to live in.

Game storming: A playbook for innovators, rulebreakers, and changemakers

By Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James MacanufoChapters 1 and 2 contains the best description for how to structure a workshop. Because of my personal style, I find the majority of the activities in the book less useful as recipes to follow. (They may resonate 100% with you.) However, the activities show how to design activities for specific outcomes, as well as the range of possible activities you can guide participants into doing, from serious to playful.