I’ve put on a handful of workshops in the last couple years. My most recent Blog Blitz! workshop was, for me, the least successful of my workshops. Yet, while I came away feeling like I had done a poor job, several people enthusiastically told me they learned a lot and would be back for the next one.
Why did it seem like a poor showing to me? There are many reasons why, but the long and the short of it is that I needed to make some mistakes and learn. And I did just that. Here is what I learned.
Nine tips for giving better workshops
1. Schedule prep time well in advance of the event. The day of my latest workshop, two clients sprung surprise deadlines onto my schedule. I am always appreciative of the work I get, but the timing of these could not have been worse, and forced me to work right up until the start time of my event. I had planned to complete preparations the day of the event. Bad idea! You can’t predict everything that may happen, so plan way ahead. Be completely ready at least one day in advance.
2. Make the event description as simple and clear as humanly possible. Think your event description is clear? Try reading it to a friend or two to see if they understand exactly what the event is about. Ask them to tell you what they get from your description. Keep it as simple as possible without losing the personality or spirit of the event.
3. Arrive one hour before the event start. If you have room access, move all tables and chairs to exactly where you need them. Get a feel for the room so that you know how to move and where to position.
4. State the schedule right at the start of the event. Don’t assume that your audience has read the schedule, nor that they intend to respect it. It is your responsibility, as presenter, to state the schedule and stick to it so people will know what to expect.
5. Lighten your load. If you think the workshop schedule is packed too tight, it probably is. If you can split the event material into two sessions, do it. It will be easier to cover all of the material, and easier for people to absorb the information. Everyone will be happier.
6. Stick to the plan! If your material is important, stick to your game plan. Both you and your audience will come away more satisfied.
7. Use a timer, so you can stick to the plan. I now use an on-screen timer because it’s bright, visible, and implies a sense of urgency.
8. Reserve time for questions. If you are taking questions, reserve time for that. Don’t let Q & A time spill over into material time. If people have more questions, offer to continue the discussion on your blog or in a private session.
9. Ask for feedback the next day. It’s worth it’s weight in gold.
Kelly Hobkirk - teaching marketers how to harness strategy, goals, reality, and purpose to connect and do better work.
Kelly Hobkirk has been helping companies succeed in creative ways for nearly 25 years. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, and books by Rockport and Rotovision. Get exclusive articles when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.