Workshops are a great way to get information out to a group of people, but only if they’re well-planned and executed. Here are a few of my tips on delivering a great workshop that will engage your audience and leave them wanting more.
Table of Contents
Establish clear objectives
Workshops can be a great way to share information and gain skills, but it’s important to have a clear purpose for your workshop before you start planning. Having clear objectives from the outset will help keep you focused as you plan and prepare for your workshop. Here’s what you need to know about why defining your objectives is so important.
Why Objectives Matter
When planning a workshop, it’s important to have clear objectives so you can stay on track and focused. Having a clear purpose for your workshop will help you determine what material to cover, how long the workshop should be, who should attend, etc. Without clear objectives, it’s easy to get sidetracked or cover topics that aren’t relevant to your audience.
How to Define Your Workshop Objectives
To define your objectives, start by asking yourself what you hope to achieve with the workshop. Do you want attendees to come away with new skills? New knowledge? A better understanding of a certain topic? Once you’ve determined the workshop’s overall objective, you can start brainstorming more specific goals. For example, if your objective is to teach attendees new skills, what specific skills do you want them to learn?
Once you have a list of goals, take a step back and ask yourself if they’re realistic. Can they be accomplished in the time frame that you have allotted for the workshop? If not, you may need to revise your goals or extend the length of the workshop. You should also ask yourself if the goals are achievable given the resources that you have available. If not, you may need to adjust your plans accordingly.
Involve your audience
The best workshops are interactive and involve the participants in some way. Whether it’s through small group work, breakout sessions, or simply asking questions throughout the presentation, involving your audience will help them stay engaged and focused on the material.
Start with an icebreaker
Before you even get into the meat of the workshop, start things off with an icebreaker. This can be anything from a quick game to something as simple as having everyone introduce themselves and say one thing they’re looking forward to learning about today. The goal is to get everyone relaxed and ready to learn.
Make it interactive
No one wants to sit through a two-hour lecture, so make sure your workshop is interactive. This means incorporating activities and discussions into the mix so that people are actively engaged rather than just passively listening. Not only will this make for a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved, but it also makes it more likely that people will actually retain the information they’re supposed to be learning.
The old adage “proper planning prevents poor performance” definitely applies here. Make sure you give yourself enough time to plan everything out in detail so that when the day of the workshop arrives, you’re not scrambling to put everything together at the last minute.
If the workshop is going to be longer than an hour, it’s important to schedule breaks so that participants can stretch their legs, use the restroom or grab a snack. Breaking up the workshop into manageable chunks will help keep people engaged and prevent them from getting overwhelmed or tired.
In addition to scheduled breaks, facilities like A/V equipment should also be taken into consideration when planning your workshop. If you need anything beyond a whiteboard and markers, make sure to request it well in advance so that there are no last-minute surprises. Likewise, if you think participants might benefit from handouts or printed materials, those should be prepared ahead of time as well. The last thing you want is to run out of time trying to copy handouts while people are waiting for you to start.
Finally, it’s important to think about who will be attending your workshop. Knowing your audience will help you determine how best to engage them throughout the session. Will they be receptive to group activities? Are they visual learners? Answering these questions ahead of time will allow you to tailor the workshop activities and content so that everyone gets something out of it.
Be prepared for anything
Even if you’ve planned everything down to the last detail, there’s always the possibility that something could go wrong on the day of the workshop. Maybe the projector breaks down, or someone doesn’t show up when they’re supposed to. Whatever happens, try to remain calm and flexible so that you can adapt on the fly and still deliver a great workshop.
Know your material inside and out
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to know your stuff cold. That way, if someone asks a question that you don’t know the answer to, you can confidently say that you’ll look into it and get back to them. Additionally, if someone challenges you on something, you’ll be able to hold your own in the discussion.
Manage your energy
It’s important to maintain a certain level of energy throughout the entirety of the workshop. If you start off too low, people will tune out. On the other hand, if you come on too strong, people will get overwhelmed. Find a balance and keep an eye on your body language and tone of voice so that people remain engaged throughout.
Be aware of your audience
Pay attention to what’s happening in the room and adjust accordingly. If people seem lost, slow down or provide more examples. If they seem bored, try livening up your delivery or changing up the pace. By being aware of your audience, you’ll be able to keep them engaged and ensure that they walk away from the experience having learned something new.
Follow up after the workshop
The work doesn’t stop once the workshop is over! Follow up with your participants afterward to see how they found the experience, what they took away from it, and what could be improved for next time.
Delivering a great workshop takes some planning and effort, but it’s definitely worth it when you see how much your participants enjoy and get out of it. By following these simple tips, you’ll be on your way to leading successful workshops that everyone will love attending.