A simple planning template for events

It’s important to have a flexible plan when you run events. It can help you think things through beforehand. Otherwise you may try and fit too much in. It also helps you adjust things in the thick of the event.

The template can help a lot when there is more than one person delivering an event. In this case, have one person clearly leading the event, even if she or he is not doing all the work. The leaders job is to make sure that there is an agreed plan, that the event goes well and that things don’t fall down the cracks between people.

I use a Word table, like below. You can add as you many rows as you like. The cells will expand to accommodate your content.

 When? What?Why? 
e g 0900              ***********
******e g Explain objectives          *****
***********e g People work better when they know a bit about each other


You can download an editable template as a Word table here

The example below shows how I use the template.

Strategy Development Workshop

This design draws on the principles of “Appreciative Inquiry”

0930Introduction and objectives by the manager. Introduce Nick in his role as facilitator.Demonstrates project manager’s commitment to the day and to Nick’s role
0940Explain norms and form of the day. The importance of listening.So people know what to expect.
0945Circle; each person says their name, something that is going well and why they care about the future of the organisation.Creates positive energy, shared motivation encourages people to share values.
1000In small groups, describe to each other examples or stories that shows the organisation at its best and when they felt proud to be part of it.Starting from positive examples builds confidence. Personal concrete experience that is shared is a good base to build on.
1100Vision Building. Building on your present successes. If the organisation were fulfilling all its promise, what would be happening? How would you feel? What would you and others be celebrating? Generate a shared “picture” and a memorable phrase to describe it. Identify the themes that emerge.This helps a team want to work together to create an attractive and shared dream. The phrase and picture anchors the vision and the experience of creating it in people’s minds.
1215Use the vision above to create stretching statements that describe what will be happening, around the key themes, in the present tense.

E.g. Government ministers always approach us first when they want good ideas about improving two-way communication with local government.

This will help you focus your energy and develop your commitment to work together creatively to achieve the vision
1300Lunch.Refreshment and relaxation.
1345List, brainstorm, what you will want to do to ensure that your dreams happen. Sort these choices by priority, and by who is most interested in what.This will ensure you consider the most important issues energetically.
1415Set up task groups to think about the projects, above, and decide a way forward. Some tasks could require involvement across the society; some might appeal to the business or voluntary side.This will focus your energy effectively on the issues important to you.
1430Groups meet and come up with concrete plans and ideas.People enjoy making things better together, especially around things they are interested in personally. They also learn to appreciate each other’s strengths.
1530BreakTime to relax and reflect
1545Set up a “fishbowl” with the leaders of each group and one empty chair.

Each leader describes briefly the output of their group in turn to the whole group.

Everyone will have an idea of the output of each task group.
1605In the “fishbowl”, the groups’ leaders work together to integrate their outputs into a business plans. They also decide how to continue the business planning process beyond the workshop. Empty chair allows brief statements from people in the wider group.This will show everyone that business planning is best an open process that benefits from close contact with members. This will increase people’s involvement in it and commitment to the outcome.
1650Closing circle. Ask everyone to say one thing they have learned and one thing they will do as a result.Public commitment helps people act beyond the workshop. The question about learning will help us see the immediate benefit of the workshop.
1715CloseWe will be tired and thoughtful!

The workshop worked well. There was a positive, energetic and constructive atmosphere throughout. People were amazed at how much work they did in one day and how much agreement there was.

The most difficult part was the “fish bowl” exercise. This might have worked better on a later day. Then people would have had more time to reflect on their learning from the day and talk to each other informally.

If you would like help using this idea, or have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks, Nick