Category: Business, Leadership and coaching
Publication date: July 13, 2021
Extent: 260 pages

Making Workshops Work

Creative collaboration for our time

Penny Pullan


Do you face the challenge of running really effective meetings, facilitated sessions or workshops as part of your role?
Would you like to feel more confident when working with challenging groups or senior participants?
Do you want to deliver lasting results collaboratively, in virtual, hybrid and in-person environments?
Making Workshops Work takes you from an initial idea or brief, through step-by-step preparation, to an engaging, well-run and effective session, resulting in agreed actions and clear follow up. You’ll feel confident, creative and competent as you deliver great results. Everyone will be committed to their actions and afterwards, whether you meet virtually, in-person or mix the two. Penny Pullan is a pioneer of virtual working and one of the world’s leading experts on running effective workshops. Her expertise and candid stories will inspire at every stage, to ensure that you are fully prepared to make the best use of your own and your participants’ valuable time.


  • A practical step-by-step guide to get the most out of group sessions quickly whether virtual or in-person
  • Memorable case studies, stories and examples to highlight what really works and what doesn’t
  • Downloadable tools, templates and checklists to reduce your preparation time and enhance your effectiveness
  • Reflective questions and exercises to help you develop your own approach, building on what works for you and adapting what doesn’t, so that each workshop is better than the last

Dr Penny Pullan is the author of several books including ‘Virtual Leadership: Practical Strategies for Getting the Best out of Virtual Work and Virtual Teams'(Kogan Page, 2016). She works with people in multinational organizations who are grappling with tricky projects: uncertain, with ambiguous requirements, stakeholders who need to be engaged and virtual teams dispersed around the world. When they work with Penny, clients notice that communication, collaboration, clarity, commitment, connection and confidence grow, and change doesn’t seem quite as tricky as before!


I frequently give workshops and seminars. One thing I have learned along the way is what works for one audience does not necessarily translate well with the next. What works in person may not work in an online environment. Facilitators must be adaptable, flexible, well-organized and confident. I’m new to facilitating online, so I picked up this book to sharpen my skills in this arena. If you’re new to facilitating workshops and seminars, I highly recommend this book. Not only does it provide a good background in what to expect and key character strengths needed, author Penny Pullan provides you with templates, checklists and guides to ensure that you are prepared, organized, managing your time effectively and hitting your objectives.


I regularly give workshops, and am a confident presenter, but I always think there are new tips someone can pick up. This book is great – readable, with strategies for all people, regardless of levels of experience. There are strategies, examples, checklists and models jam-packed in this book. I highly recommend it especially for those new to presenting, or needing to rethink the objective of their presentation, but it would be of use to all presenters.


Perfectly applicable for our current work patterns This book is excellent, perfect for the current blended approach to the workplace. It’s written with humour and appropriate real life examples. A must buy


This book is a must have for anyone facilitating workshops, whether virtual, ‘real world’ or hybrid. Unlike some other books where virtual/hybrid are an afterthought, the author has built these into the very fabric of the book, helpfully providing advice and tips throughout.
Highly recommended!


Penny Pullman brings to life how to successfully run a workshop. The book provides clear advice and gives practical hints and tips. I was particularly interested in post pandemic new ways of working and returning to the office in hybrid working style. Penny includes Hybrid working and provides insight for how to make workshops fair for all participants, whether 100% physical, virtual or hybrid-mix.
Having previously purchased Penny Pullmans book ‘Virtual Leadership’ I had no hesitation in buying ‘Making Workshops Work’ and have found it engaging to read and very helpful.


This practical, ‘how to’ read is focused on helping either workshop novices or seasoned facilitators to improve the workshop experience. She wants us to design workshops first and foremost for collaboration, to help people interact and engage (and with as few slides as possible). She helps to guide us in levelling up the playing field for remote and hybrid participants, encouraging us to think remote first and offering solutions to help with this – think about asking remote participants for feedback first, is just one of many examples.
Jo Twiselton, Change leadership coach & consultant, founder of Twist Consultants

HR Director


Magic! Nice clear structure, great stories and supportive guidance.
Professor Eddie Obeng, Speaker, Innovator and Author, Learning Director of Pentacle, The Virtual Business School, and Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Henley Business School, UK

This book encapsulates all the best techniques and approaches to manage and deliver change in our increasingly remote working environment. For the first time, Dr Pullan brings together best practices and practical techniques to help us facilitate successful meetings and workshops. The book reflects Dr Pullan’s extensive experience in the design and delivery of successful workshops that we can all put to great use in our own working lives. Long overdue, and sorely needed, this is a book for our time.
Chris Alexander, Project Manager, Computacenter, UK

This book is a delightful and fascinating read. Dr Penny Pullan engages the reader with concepts, practical application, tips for success, and stories from the field. This is a timely piece for the pandemic age, critical for any workshop facilitator, leader, or participant. Entirely in-person workshops are almost obsolete, and Dr Pullan helps the reader see the success of an in-person, hybrid, or virtual facilitation approach. To effectively embrace the present – and future – in conducting workshops, you absolutely need her book.”
Joanna Kirchgessner, Information Technology Supervisor at COUNTRY Financial® Illinois, USA

Penny has created a book that is not only competently resourceful, but timely too. With remote work on the rise due to COVID-19, the book is a rich source of knowledge, grounded in practice and informed by theory, on how to effectively facilitate virtual and hybrid (in addition to in-person) workshops whilst promoting creativity and collaboration. What I particularly like about the book is its embedded recognition that workshops may take different formats and, as such, workshop facilitators need to demonstrate adaptability and be equipped with skills and ability to enable them to cope with participants’ diverse requirements.
Professor Niki Panteli, Professor of Digital Business, Royal Holloway University of London, UK

Penny Pullan covers the full spectrum of workshops (in-person, hybrid and virtual), and is one of the first to describe with authority how to make virtual workshops successful. She explains the why, and the how, in her usual clear and effective style. When this book was started, none of us had any idea that virtual meetings and workshops would become such a big part of our professional lives, but here we are. The contents of this book are timely, easy to implement, and yield results.
Hugo Minney PhD., Chair and Executive Director, Durham, UK

Workshops are a powerful tool, yet so many of them are run in the workplace by those who have had little or often no training on how to run them effectively. This book will be the go-to resource for anyone who has found themselves in the position of having to run workshops without having been trained to do so, whilst also providing a wealth of information for those who have ever wondered how to deal with some of those sticky workshop situations which can be so typical. Easy to read with real-life stories and a range of tips from how to plan effectively from the outset, to dealing with disengaged participants and managing workshops in a virtual environment as well as face-to-face, this book is recommended for anyone who has ever run or contemplated running a workshop.
Sarah Fitton, HR Professional and former BA Head of Practice, UK

Whether you are running a small group session or facilitating a larger group, there are plenty of ideas in this book to engage your participants and get the outcomes you need. It’s the perfect book for our times because it recognises the need for in-person, virtual and hybrid strategies and shares them all. You’ll put the book down feeling more confident and more competent running your own sessions.
Elizabeth Harrin, Author of Engaging Stakeholders on Projects, UK

This is an amazing book and very practical. You start learning from the very first few pages. I wish I had had this book 10 years back, as I would have saved many sleepless nights in the run up to preparing for workshops and making them effective.
Ravi Kumar, Vice President Business Embedded Technology, Wells Fargo, India

Whether you’re new to planning and facilitating any kind of working session, or want to sharpen your workshop skills by adding new tools and techniques to your repertoire, this book is for you. Chock-full of examples, tips, graphics and real-life stories, the book’s Quick Start guide makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. Covering both in-person and virtual workshop facilitation, Making Workshops Work also delves into important topics that few other facilitation books touch on, such as diversity and inclusion, getting actions done, overcoming typical workshop complications, and understanding what makes people tick. I highly recommend this book to any workshop facilitators looking to take their practice to a new level. Your workshop participants will be glad you did, and so will you.
Nancy Settle-Murphy, President of Guided Insights and author of Leading Effective Virtual Teams Overcoming Time and Distance to Achieve Exceptional Results, USA

Workshops are important – they are where we get things done, where we make decisions, where we figure out what we need to do, where we decide if we are going in the right direction. So, making these important interactions work better, and I mean really better, is one of the more productive things we can do.
The author’s six statements for a workshop are wonderfully simple ways to ensure that everybody in the workshop understands what is expected of them. The Magic 6TM collection is worth the price of the book alone. But there’s more, much more about getting people to work effectively together.
James Robertson, co-author of Happy to Work Here – Understanding and improving the Culture at Work, London, UK

Whether one is new to organizing workshops, or already has extensive experience, this book can certainly provide valuable insights and offer practical strategies for planning and conducting effective workshops. In fact, the principles it covers can be generalized to meetings more broadly as well as to educational settings. This book is also current and relevant as it addresses the challenges and opportunities related to virtual and hybrid meetings, and how to adapt workshops to such alternative formats. A definite must-read for anyone organizing workshops!
Shireen Sindi, PhD., Assistant Professor, Karolinska Institute, Sweden

Theory is one thing and applying in into practice is something else. Penny Pullan’s book is a superb example of just enough theory to “effectively cover the concepts, and a deep dive into practical how-to advice. She weaves in real-life examples that we can all relate to, and invitations to reflect and explore the approach from different angles. This book is for everyone even thinking of running a workshop in any sector, and an excellent resource for training the trainers in facilitation.
Sawsan Khuri, PhD., Director, Collaborative Capacities, and Innovation Specialist, UK

Penny Pullan has done it again! An easy-to-read and useful how-to for people who want to run virtual and face2face workshops that deliver on their objectives.
This is a book to dip in and out of when planning, leading and fixing all those small and tricksy issues that can raise their heads.
Jo Ann Sweeney, People Change Consultant and Director, Sweeney Communications, UK

This is a must-read book for any project manager, however seasoned you may think you are when working with well-tuned teams. Reading Penny’s book will keep you ahead of the curve when it comes to running a creative and effective team, whether that team has the luxury of being in one place or is scattered around the globe. “Full of tips, explanations and guides, I found myself taking notes and smiling with recognition as I read the book. I’ve added it to my recommended reading list as soon as I read it and so should you!
Nicholas Lambrou, Principal Lecturer, University of Westminster, UK

I love this book! Whether you want to read it from cover to cover or just dip in and out for a quick bit of advice, Penny’s down-to-earth and practical approach makes it so easy to read and her personal stories bring the content to life. I recommend it wholeheartedly to experienced and inexperienced facilitators alike. At a time when my workshops have been moved rapidly from face-to-face to virtual, it has certainly helped me continue to support my participants in engaging ways.
Sophie Reynolds, Learning and Development Manager at the Royal Horticultural Society, UK

This is a wide-ranging introduction and an invaluable resource for anyone leading any sort of workshop, whether in-person or online or both – it is packed with tips and tools and rich with insightful stories… highly recommended!
Martin Gilbraith, IAF Certified Professional Facilitator – Master, London, UK

Whether you’re new to facilitation or an experienced practitioner, this book has something for you! Packed full of tips, fresh ideas, personal stories and inspiration it’s the ultimate guide (and friend!) for designing and leading the best possible interactions.
Eleanor Winton, consultant, facilitator, author, and founder of Foresightfully Ltd, UK

Another great book from the eloquent Penny. Humans are relational in how we work together, and this easy-to-read book will help you prepare for and conduct amazing workshops, small or large, one-off or a series of gatherings – this is a must read. The accessible writing style is as if Penny is speaking directly to you as your own personal coach. As a leader and facilitator of the future, this book will be close at hand. Happy workshopping!
Chris Knight, Ordinand in the Church of England, Oxford, UK

Dr Penny Pullan has distilled her extensive experience on facilitating successful workshops in this engaging book. Not only does it cover traditional in-person workshops, but it focuses on remote and hybrid workshops, as an integral thread throughout.
Whether you have been dropped in at the deep end and need some tips to facilitate an impending workshop; are a seasoned facilitator honing your skills; or are new to leading workshops and want to develop your knowledge, this book will engage you and in turn will enable you to engage your workshop participants.
Lydia Hopton, Editor of The Clerk Magazine, the Society for Local Council Clerks (SLCC), UK

Refreshingly lively… for those who commission – and maybe pay good money for workshops, as well as participants, and those who facilitate – this is a worthwhile, detailed and practically very helpful book.

James Derounian, PhD., National Teaching Fellow, SLCC

Penny Pullan’s book is chock full of helpful step-by-step guidance that will add sparkle to tired meeting formats and bring people together in deeper and more creative ways – just what we need in the new world of work.

Caroline Webb, Author of How to Have a Good Day


Table of Contents Table of Contents About the Author Acknowledgements
© Penny Pullan 2016 Page 7 of 10 Foreword: Bestselling business author – to be confirmed. Possibly Pam Slim (USA) or Professor Eddie Obeng (UK) Introduction: This sets out the philosophy behind the book, who should read it and why, and explains how applying the book will enhance the reader’s workshops and meetings. It introduces the author’s story and explains the book’s layout and the associated website and other resources. FOUNDATIONS Chapter 1: The ups and downs of Meetings and Workshops This chapter looks at working with groups in business, exploring what really happens. Expect to learn from and be entertained by real-life horror stories gathered from around the world, which are likely to be anonymous for obvious reasons! You’ll also hear of people doing amazing things through workshops, both face-to-face and virtual, which will encourage you and help you to gather ideas about what works. Chapter 2: What makes an effective workshop leader in different contexts? This chapter examines the mindset of the workshop leader and the attitudes, behaviours and values that come together to make someone really effective in both face-to-face and virtual settings. It will explore the different contexts for workshops in business, from learning, setting strategy and tactics, planning, managing change, understanding requirements and innovation. Chapter 3: What makes people tick? (including workshop leaders!) This chapter will bring in just enough psychology, neuroscience, learning theory, visual thinking, change, design thinking and leadership to give the reader a solid foundation for understanding their session participants (and themselves!) It will be easy to read and, although some of the concepts can be quite complex, they will be delivered in simple, accessible, bite-sized chunks appropriate and helpful for workshop leaders. They will be illustrated with stories and examples to bring the ideas to life. YOUR SESSION Chapter 4: Planning a Brilliant Workshop This chapter will focus on preparation for a particular workshop, exploring: • What are you trying to achieve? What will success look like? • Who should be involved? Why? • What format will the session take? Face-to-face or virtual? What will the environment be? How should the space be laid out? What technology can you use? How can you use time outside of the meeting to support you? • What other resources are available for you? • What issues do you face? What risks might happen, both threats and opportunities? Once this initial preparatory work is complete, it moves into the detailed session planning:
© Penny Pullan 2016 Page 8 of 10 • What is the purpose of your session? • What are the more detailed objectives? • What’s the time plan? • Who is doing what? • How will you work together? (Ground rules) • What will happen next? Once this planning is complete, then you can decide what elements to bring together to make your workshop work, as outlined in Chapter 4. Chapter 4: Choosing your activities, and what you need to make them happen. This chapter explains the options for helping people get to know each other, generating ideas, building engagement, decision making, building consensus and what you need to make these activities run smoothly . This chapter also looks at what’s needed to support your activities. When referring to technology, the book won’t dive deep into any particular technology solution to ensure that the content stays fresh for longer. Chapter 5: Running the Workshop This chapter explores how to lead synchronous virtual meetings: preparation for success; making virtual meetings work through engaging people; achieving action through virtual meetings. Chapter 6: Making sure actions get done! Too many meetings and workshops of all types end up without really achieving anything. This chapter will look at how to ensure clear actions, follow-up and that your sessions deliver results. It will also cover evaluation and ongoing improvements. Chapter 7: Special Considerations for Virtual Workshops This chapter expands on previous chapters, showing where virtual workshops are different. It highlights areas to consider carefully and demonstrates opportunities for achieving things that would be much harder with everyone together. It will include specific tips for preparing for and running virtual workshops and meetings, especially how to keep remote participants engaged. (Virtual workshops are considered throughout the book, but focused on in this chapter.) WHEN IT GETS COMPLICATED… Chapter 8: Workshop complications, and how to overcome them This chapter explores the many different areas that add complexity in workshops, touching on: • Culture, • Generation, • Language, • Energy, or lack of it, • And much, much more! PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER Chapter 9: Applying this in practice
© Penny Pullan 2016 Page 9 of 10 This chapter includes a range of real, practical workshop situations and challenges faced by meeting leaders, which will be gathered by the author during her research. Drawing from content and ideas from chapters across the book, the author will weave together her response on how best to tackle each situation or challenge. While there is more detail elsewhere, this is designed to give quick, practical advice that the workshop leader can apply straight away. INSPIRATION Chapter 10: How to make your workshops work! This short chapter will summarise the key messages of the book and encourage the reader to apply what they’ve learned. Further Reading Index Resources About the Author



Paperback / 9781910056677 / July 13, 2021 / £19.99

Ebook / 9781910056714 / July 12, 2021 / £9.99

Paperback and eBook Bundle / £22.49


Penny Pullan

Dr Penny Pullan is the author of several books including ‘Virtual Leadership: Practical Strategies for Getting the Best out of Virtual Work and Virtual Teams'(Kogan Page, 2016). She works with people in multinational organizations who are grappling with tricky projects: uncertain, with ambiguous requirements, stakeholders who need to be engaged and virtual teams dispersed around the world. When they work with Penny, clients notice that communication, collaboration, clarity, commitment, connection and confidence grow, and change doesn’t seem quite as tricky as before!