Jurgen’s Checklist for Workshop Organizers

Jurgen Appelo
5 min readMay 19


Fortunately, some organizers know what to do (Milan, Avascoperta)

After yet another workshop with a cluttered room, bad table layout, tiny little screen, terrible lunch, lukewarm coffee, insufficient sticky notes, no colored pens, lack of name tags, no participants list, and a fuckup of the schedule, I think, “Is organizing a workshop really so difficult?”

I decided to make a checklist. Most items on this list are (sadly) based on my own experiences, but I also thank my friends on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, who offered some additional gloriously horrific examples. The result is a list of 52 checklist items.

You may want to use this list to check how many points your workshop organizer earned.

I will for sure use this checklist for my upcoming workshops in Brussels, São Paolo, Vilnius, Copenhagen, Helsinki, and Berlin (see the agenda here).


  1. There is early communication about the number and names of participants. (No surprise show-ups during the workshop.)
  2. There is early communication with the participants about the prerequisites and agenda. (No participants in the room who expected something different.)
  3. There is clear communication to everyone about the schedule. (No missing or different timetables.)
  4. There is clear communication to everyone about the location. (No missing or different venue directions.)
  5. Everyone is aware of online vs. in-person participation. (No surprise hybrid situations or changes between online vs. in-person.)


  1. There is a contact on location for swift access to the workshop room. (Not half an hour wasted on NDA forms or security badges.)
  2. There is a contact and tech support on location to assist with preparations in the room. (Not just someone’s phone number sent in an email.)
  3. There is a printed list of all registered participants. (No guessing of who is supposed to be there.)
  4. There are name tag stickers, either pre-printed or empty. (No guessing by participants of who is who.)
  5. There is a contact on location or standby during the workshop for any urgent issues. (No phone number that nobody picks up.)


  1. The room is available at least thirty minutes before the official start time. (No locked doors preventing early access.)
  2. The room has enough space for everyone. (No acrobatics needed to move around.)
  3. The room is accessible for less-abled people. (No stairs or narrow passages limiting free movement.)
  4. The room is quiet and free of distractions. (No loud coffee machines, air conditioning, live music, etc.)
  5. The room has windows and natural light. (No basement, dungeon, or meeting room with only blind walls.)
  6. The room has openable windows. (No stale air throughout the entire workshop.)
  7. The room has heating and/or air conditioning. (No room where people are freezing or cooking.)
  8. The room is free from clutter. (No low-hanging monitors, no cables across the floor, and no cabinets under the tables.)
  9. The room has walls usable for sticky notes and paper. (No walls of fabric and no instruction that “it’s not allowed to use the walls.”)
  10. The room is easily (un)lockable. (Nobody worrying about their possessions in the room.)
  11. There is a place for the trainer to sit. (No assumption that the trainer will just keep standing for two days straight.)


  1. The tables are set up for collaborative groups of 4–6 people (Cabaret or Cluster style). (No Theatre-style, no U-shape, no Conference style, no Classroom style, no Fishbowl style, no Dance Hall style.)
  2. The tables are moveable to allow for reorganization. (No tables bolted to the floor or locked together with cables, machinery, or Christmas decorations).
  3. The tables are small enough for collaboration. (Nobody needs to lie across the table to reach their pens and sticky notes).
  4. The tables are large enough to ensure everyone’s personal space. (No unwanted rubbing of knees and elbows).


  1. The screen is large enough for the room. (No screens that are actually small computer monitors or pimped-up tablets.)
  2. Each person at every table can see the big screen. (No turning of chairs 180 degrees, no concrete pillars obstructing people’s view).
  3. The screen allows for simple, standard HDMI input. (No password-protected, firewalled corporate media systems.)
  4. The projector is easily usable. (No projector running only on a network or only with specific software.)


  1. Sound is available via standard HDMI or audio jack. (No password-protected, firewalled corporate media systems.)
  2. The sound is of decent quality across the room. (No sound from the flaky built-in speaker of the projector or monitor.)


  1. There are whiteboards or flip charts, one per group. (Not just one whiteboard or flip chart that everyone needs to share.)
  2. Either the whiteboards or the flip charts are movable. (No visualization that’s only possible in one part of the room.)
  3. There are working pens or markers in various colors. (Not just a pile of dried-out pens/markers in only black or blue.)
  4. There are sufficient sticky notes per group in various colors. (Not just one tiny block per table in only one color.)
  5. There is an ample supply of A4 paper, tape, stickers, and other stationery. (No lack of creative materials.)


  1. Guest WiFi is readily available for all participants. (No forms to be filled out to please the facilities department.)


  1. Water, tea, and fresh coffee are available throughout the day. (No lukewarm coffee served in a can only twice per day.)
  2. The beverages are complimentary for all. (No money or company cards are needed.)


  1. Food is available at lunchtime. (No late delivery half an hour after lunch started.)
  2. The food has options for different people. (Not just one pile of meat and one pile of carbs.)
  3. Food selection — if needed — is done during the breaks. (No lunch forms being passed around during the workshop itself.)
  4. The food is available in sufficient quantity. (No scraps for the participant who was last in line.)
  5. The food is free for all. (No money or company cards are needed.)
  6. Lunch can be finished within one hour. (Not a three-course meal at a restaurant fifteen minutes from the venue.)


  1. Toilet facilities are easily reachable for all. (No security personnel involved just to use a restroom.)
  2. People can easily get out of the building. (No security personnel needed to leave and return.)
  3. The cleanup crew leaves workshop materials alone. (No disappearance of sticky notes or other work.)
  4. Anyone who takes photos, asks for permission first. (No photographer coming in unannounced and taking pictures without people’s consent.)


  1. There is mutual agreement on evaluations and certificates. (No double evaluation, no evaluations in the workshop class.)
  2. There is timely communication about the names and email addresses of participants. (No one-week lag offering people their certificates of attendance.)
  3. Last but not least: there is timely payment of the invoice. (No endless reminders.)

I think none of this is particularly difficult.

My recent organizer scored a meager 37 points out of 52.

What’s your latest score?




Jurgen Appelo

Successful entrepreneur, Top 100 Leadership Speaker, Top 50 Management Expert, author of 4 books, junior in humility.