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The Session Planner

How to use the Session Planner to build your workshops and agendas

Andy avatar
Written by Andy
Updated over a week ago

What is a block?

Sessions are made up of blocks. Every block represents an item in your agenda. These might include exercises, games, activities, group discussions, breaks or more. You’ll create a block for every step of your agenda, add instructions, materials, any necessary links and even add attachments so that everything you need for running your session is in the right place.

Every block you create in SessionLab becomes a reusable element that you can look-up and reuse in future sessions, saving time, and streamlining the design process. No more re-typing or manually cutting and pasting across Word documents or Excel sheets!

As you work on your session, you’ll add, edit, and move blocks in order to design a complete agenda. You’ll set timings that update as you move things around and even find inspiration and new activities from our library to help take your session to the next level.

Start by adding a name to your block. Using a working title is fine – remember you can change this at any time and move blocks around with ease!

You’ll also want to add a description and additional information in the relevant fields. Description is a great field to add general information that helps you and your colleagues understand the purpose of the block.

You can use Additional information however you like, though we like using this field to add a simple step-by-step list for running the activity or exercise. On your printouts and exports, you’ll be able to include this field for your co-facilitators while excluding it for clients: try adding high-level client-facing information in the Description field and facilitator notes in the Additional information field.

Managing the blocks in your session

Moving blocks around and adjusting your agenda as you go is all part of the design process. SessionLab is a drag and drop builder, so you can pick up your blocks and rearrange them easily.

You can move a block by clicking the dotted menu in the top left corner of any block and dragging it into place. Simple as that!

Move blocks in planner

Duplicating and reusing blocks is a quick way to build out your agenda and save time. You can do this by dragging a block while pressing the ALT key on Windows (Option on Mac). Your duplicated block will appear where you drop.

You can also duplicate a block by clicking on the dotted menu in the upper left corner of the block and selecting the Duplicate option. Your duplicated block will appear just below the original!

You can also use this menu if you want to copy a block to another session you’re working on. Once you click on 'Copy to...' and choose the session you'd like it to appear in, it'll be present in that session's notes area.

While designing and iterating, you may want to delete an item in your agenda. You’ll be able to restore the deleted content using the recovery feature in the Activity Log; items can be restored up to three days since they were first deleted – after this time you won’t be able to recover the content.

Adjusting your session’s timing

Ensuring that workshops, meetings, and individual games run on time is an essential part of effective facilitation. With SessionLab, we make planning your session timings and staying on schedule easy!

Whenever you change the timing of your session blocks the overall length of your session plan will be automatically recalculated. No more manually adjusting every single stage of the agenda as you adjust and design your session.

You can adjust the timing of each of your blocks, as well as designate a specific starting time for any of the blocks in your agenda by locking their starting time.

Want to plan your time around an end time? Try creating a block with a 0-minute duration and locking its start time to when your session needs to end. This way you’ll have an indicator of how much time you have left to use and can play what you’ll add or take away effectively.

Use color coding to indicate activity type

Using color-coded categories in your session is great for gaining an overview of the make-up and flow of your session. At a glance, you’ll be able to see how your agenda exercises are split-up and where you might want to include a break or energizer.

Your category choices will also show in the left sidebar together with a proportional time overview. This is an effective way to see the overall flow and high-level structure of your session.

We like to make all our breaks yellow and have presentations or theory discussions in blue. If there’s a lot of blue blocks in our overview, it’s a great signal to include a yellow block as a break, or perhaps add a green energizer activity.

In the Session Planner, a session’s categories and their associated colors can be changed on a session-by-session basis. The ability to set default block categories in your account settings, is also available for users on a Pro or Business subscription.

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