Conducting a workshop has its advantages: it generates much-needed revenue, puts your name out there and helps you reach a mass audience. But to maximize your success, you’ll need to follow these seven directives. Don’t worry…they’re (mostly) painless.
1) First things first. Before you do ANYTHING ELSE make an outline of your curriculum. In other words: the hotel, the marketing efforts, the purchases from that office supplies store – should all be put on the back burner – for now. You ‘cannot pass Go!’ until you know for a certainty what you’re presenting, and what, if any, props/added features will be needed to conduct your workshop. NOTE: Make sure your outline includes time frames of how long each portion will be, including your breaks (restroom break(s), lunch, etc.). These will help you to stay focused on your message throughout the course of the workshop.
2) Notify an appropriate meeting venue (hotel) BEFORE promoting your workshop. Nothing is more embarrassing than having to re-email, re-call, and re-iterate to everyone you know just why you have to postpone your much-hyped workshop. This happens frequently when the conductor doesn’t finalize the date with the venue before advertising the event. “Finalizing” includes reading over your contract thoroughly before signing, as well as your meeting set-up (see #3).
3) Meeting set-up. Make sure you have an appropriate setting for your particular topic. For instance, if your workshop topic is “Beading Jewelry,” you’ll likely have a totally different set-up than “Blogging for the Internet.” Meet with the hotel sales team to confirm room set-up, needs (such as audio/visual equipment), refreshments, etc. You don’t want to wait until the morning of to realize that something has gone wrong.
4) Advertise! Whether you use flyers, brochures, word of mouth, TV, radio, the Internet, forums, social networks – or what have you – if you don’t advertise your upcoming workshop, you’re sabotaging the outcome. Any materials should include the date, time, location and cost of the event, as well as what the participants should expect.
This is no time to be humble. SELL YOURSELF AND YOUR SERVICES! And don’t forget to send a friendly reminder, including a link to your Web site, to friends, neighbors, colleagues, frenemies, enemies, and anyone else you can think of – just make sure it’s not in the form of “spam” so that it doesn’t get filtered and go straight to the trash bin. By the way, advertising also includes periodic “teasers” up to the day of the event. So be creative.
5) Practice makes perfect. You might not spend an entire day in the mirror laboring over each word of your upcoming presentation, but it’s a good idea to at least give a general synopsis in private before going public, if for one reason only: Your audience is willing to sit through an hours-long (sometimes days-long) presentation to watch you. The least you can do is to give them something of interest to watch. So go through your outline with a fine-tooth comb. Note where and when you’ll distribute handouts during particular portions of your workshop, when to open the floor for questions, and any other particulars to be noted. This will assure the smooth flow of your presentation and the certainty of hitting all major points of your material.
6) Supplies. Traditional supplies include: pens, tablets and easel/easel board (or Post-It poster board). Always bring additional copies of all handouts (for those last-minute attendees who forgot to RSVP). For an added touch prepare individual packets (or folders), with materials/handouts already enclosed, for each attendee.
7) Evaluations/surveys. For your own personal enrichment, include evaluations or surveys in each participant’s packet. This will allow attendees to provide feedback from which you will benefit. Ask questions that truly will allow you to grow as a presenter and that will help you to improve the structure of your workshop.
Each of the seven points is a tried and true method in conducting an effective workshop. Why not put them to good use by conducting your own workshop? It’s a great way to bring in revenue, present yourself to your peers and is a marvelous way to teach others.
Judith Brown is a nationally published freelance writer out of Harrisburg, PA. With nearly 30 years in the work force, her varied background represents county and state governments, non-profit organizations and the advertising industry, among others. A writer and editor for a health care publisher, Ms. Brown also conducts writing workshops, provides on-site staff training in matters pertaining to workplace culture, and serves as a PR/marketing consultant for small business industries. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.