After running training and other events for over 10 years I have come to the following conclusions about what makes small facilitated (training or other) events successful. These guide the way that I develop and run events, and I hope they might be useful to others.
It is important to let people speak, and encourage them to question, debate and draw their own conclusions. Everyone has something valuable they can share with others, and facilitated events (workshops, meetings, etc.) should draw this out so that participants can learn from each other.
It is really important that the content of any event should have some direct relevance to the participants' own experiences and needs (and it is up to the trainer to help them identify this).
I have a passion for the scholarly publishing industry and remain fascinated by its evolution as well as by its challenges. In any event that I facilitate I always try to include a session on "what is happening" as many people - busy with their day jobs - don't have enough time to constantly scour the airwaves for new developments: I am lucky enough that my job actually requires me to do this.
Theory is all very well, but "real life" often gets in the way, so it is important that people know how to apply theory to their daily life/work.
No matter how perfect a programme is, it is important that there is space to adjust it to meet the needs of participants - to extend sections where there is more interest, and reduce sections that may seem less important. Sometimes there is a need to go completely off the topic and facilators need to be ready for this.
There is nothing so demoralizing than a negative meeting, so I firmly believe that participants should feel that they have had a good time: stimulating conversations, meeting interesting people, and laughter.
14 November 2016