Technical Workshop Tips
Contents of this page:
- Establish a culture of learning:
- The team benefits when every member feels they can learn and
- There’s a big cultural benefit to encouraging everybody to ask
any question at all – no question is ever “stupid”, and people
in senior technical roles can lead by example
- People – at all levels of seniority - should feel safe to be
honest about areas where they are inexperienced
- In similar vein, nobody should ever be criticised or mocked for
not knowing something. If somebody has a knowledge gap then it
is the responsibility of the whole team to assist them in
closing that gap
- An open willingness to learn is much more valuable than an
ability to regurgitate memorised facts
- Have regular one to ones with team members to get a feel for who
needs help with what, and identify where group sessions would be
Preparing for Workshops
- When people are delivering workshops, they need to be given time to
- You can arrange group learning sessions which do not have to rely on
one “expert” knowing the targeted topic.
- Instead, the group can find an online resource – such as a
tutorial or Pluralsight course – and work through it together.
- In this scenario, the group should feel free to go at whatever
pace works for them
- They should also feel free to go off at tangents and explore
- Don’t feel that resources have to be created from scratch – this can
be time consuming, and chances are somebody else will have already
done it for you. Google is your friend!
- Consider who is being invited to each session
- Has anyone been left out? Are there members of other teams that
- Do not assume that anyone should be excluded – the team as a
whole will benefit from individual members learning new skills
- Not everybody needs to have a session in their calendar – you
can send broadcasts out which detail upcoming sessions for
potentially interested parties
- Keep hold of resources from previous workshops so that you can do
- It’s a very good idea to create skeleton projects with useful
starting points in code, and place these in a central GitHub
repository where everybody can reach them.
Booking Rooms for Workshops
- If using Outlook: When adding a meeting in Outlook, click Scheduling
Assistant at the top
- Then click Add Rooms, bottom left
- This allows you to select multiple possible rooms and then
examine their calendars side by side to find a suitable
date/time and room
- Training rooms may be in a separate address book – select
“Global address list” from the Address book dropdown, top
- You need to choose a room that has a decent screen.
- Sessions work best if they are hands on. Give people plenty of time
to explore the concepts being introduced – ideally in pairs.
- This has the added benefit that less preparation is required:
rather than creating a lengthy series of slides, focus on having
something to do.
- Setting the scene: Establish the aims of any workshop at the start,
and remind people to be kind to one another and any other guidelines
you wish to establish.
- Similarly, at the end of a session, do a wrap-up to summarise what
has been achieved
- Also try to do some form of retrospective – this can be really
quick and simple, e.g. two sections for Successes and Areas for
Improvement, and people write quick post-its for each section.
- Ways of working: Pairs work very well, and sometimes you can have a
“mob” – where the whole group works on one problem together.
- If working with pairs, aim to swap partners regularly.
- If working with a mob, you can have names in a hat and regularly
(eg every ten minutes) swap the person who is at the keyboard.
- You can also have two people at the keyboard – a “driver”
(keyboard operator) and a “navigator” (person who decides what
will be done next).
- These can be decided by names from a hat at ten-minute
- Names do not go back into the hat until all names have been
- The navigator can go on to become the driver each time, so
only one new person jumps in every ten minutes.
- When using this technique, it is a good idea to deliberately
start with an experienced pair, who can get people started.
- When putting people into pairs, try to pair experienced with
inexperienced where possible.
- Although sometimes it can be helpful to have two inexperienced
people together, as they can help each other learn.
- Have regular health checks – check how people are doing and get
pairs to share what they’ve been working on
- Pay attention to engagement levels. Look out for:
- The whole room looking bored – move onto something more meaty
- The whole room looking confused – slow things down and give room
to explore things in smaller chunks
- An individual looking unengaged / on their phone, etc – get them
involved by directing questions at them
- An individual looking confused – give them some individual
attention – ask them questions to establish where they got