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There are four workshop documents each facilitator must provide or ensure:

  1. Pre-Read
  2. Annotated Agenda
  3. Slide Deck
  4. Output Notes

Workshop Documents — Pre-Read

Your participants need to show up at your workshop prepared and ready to contribute. Do not assume they will. Lead them. Provide them a compelling pre-read. First of all, the pre-read should include at least the components shown below. If your pre-read is a large document, provide a personalized cover letter asking each subject matter expert to focus on topics and pages that you have highlighted. Consequently, your courtesy encourages them the obligation to take time reading their parts.

Participants' Package (Pre-read)

One of Four Workshop Documents: Participants’ Package, (Pre-read)

Workshop Purpose, Scope, Deliverables, and Simple Agenda

EVERY meeting, even a fifty-minute session, needs to have an articulate purpose, boundaries (ie, scope), and either well codified outputs or a generally described outcome document. The deliverables (or output/ outcome) describe what DONE looks like when the session ends. A description of the deliverables describes ‘DONE‘ and what the group delivers during the meeting. The agenda, hopefully structured (NOT simply a ‘discussion’; a term closely related to ‘percussion’ and ‘concussion’), shows the group how it is going to get to the deliverable, or the end of the session.

Questions to be Addressed

Since you want your participants to show up prepared, help them. Agree in advance (optimally through private interviews) what questions ought be raised during their session and have them prepare response before the meeting begins. Confirm with them the validity of the questions and obtain their feedback about questions they may wish to add, deemed important, and perhaps missing from your original list of questions. Consider the most important reason for meetings—building consensual answers to questions important to the group.

Mission, Value, and Vision

When arguments arise, active listening should be used first to avoid people, who unknowingly, may be in violent agreement with each other. When active listening fails, sometimes due to the stubbornness of participants, an appeal must be made to WHY the meeting is being held. Because, no one wants more meetings. They only want results that accelerate projects and activities that occur after the meeting. To reconcile arguments, be prepared to appeal to the objectives of the project/ product, program, business unit, or enterprise that your meeting supports.

Glossary of Terms

You cannot afford to allow arguments about the meaning of terms you use and build into your preparatory efforts. For example, some consider Goals as fuzzy statements and Objectives are SMART. To others, the opposite is true. For some people, Mission is why they show up and Vision is where they are going. To others, it is the opposite. Standardize your operational definitions, share them, and enforce consistent use and interpretation.

Space for Participants’ Note-taking

As a kind gesture, provide some extra space for them to take notes. It will be appreciated.

Workshop Documents — Your Personal, Annotated Agenda

Your detailed methods should be built as if you were there visualizing every step in advance. Include breakout teams, team names and members, CEOs (ie, Chief Easel Operators), but most importantly, detail how you will analyze their input (ie, second activity of Brainstorming). Our typical annotated agenda runs 20 pages long, even for a three-hour session.

Workshop Documents — Slide Deck

Provide the participants copies of the slides you use, and do not forget to include operational definitions. You don’t need our help here since this is what you do best; ie, create decks.

Workshop Documents — Output Notes

Your effort to create a solid pre-read, annotated agenda, and slide deck makes meeting notes are a snap. Simply drop in the content developed during the meeting alongside the content provided by your pre-read, annotated agenda, and slides. As a result, you are ready to call it good. Congratulations on completing your four essential meeting documents.


Which of these four meeting documents can you afford to skip? None of them of course, unless you avoid death by PowerPoint and spare them the deck by referring to content you already provided in the pre-read.


Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH  professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)

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Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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