Nicole O’Sullivan on the secrets of producing great workshops
In my 10+ years in leadership I have run a number of events and workshops to support people with their personal development, business growth and customer interactions, with groups as large as 500.
When I first started creating workshops’ I found that what works is being your authentic self and sticking to your style of communication you feel comfortable doing.
I always make sure I format my presentations – it helps me stay on track and not get too crazy with ideas to include on the day.
Formatting needs to make sure you cover the WHY, WHAT, HOW and WHAT IF sections of our brains so that you satisfy all audience members…. I usually ask myself the following questions
– Does my presentation cover WHY we are having this workshop?
– Does it provide the audience with what will be covered today and tie back to why this will be of benefit to your audience?
– Will my workshop provide plenty of “How to tips” on implementing into their life/business?
– And when they actually leave your workshop – what will the expected time frame be when these tips will start to seeing results?
Find out what your audience feel would be valuable for them. I have found this helps so much because you will have their attention because the topic is of interest to them. So, here are my best tips to set yourself up for a great workshop.
Nicole’s secrets to running a successful workshop:
Preparation: Start getting feedback from your targeted audience at least 6 weeks before the desired workshop. Send out a survey or even better – get them one on one and find out what would be of value to them personally and professionally. Don’t try and jam too much in – try and focus on 1 or 2 things that you hope the audience will walk away with and implement. (you usually get a pretty good outline or theme that emerges from the chats you have with your audience beforehand – this is why this is a great first step!) Don’t forget to get dates, times, venue details out as soon as you can so that your audience can be prepared for your workshop. Don’t leave this to the last minute! Or you won’t have much of an audience to work with.
NO Death by PowerPoint: When putting together slides – make sure you don’t chunk slabs of information on them. Use the PowerPoint slides to be a talking point or a visual aid to get your audience engaged and interested. Remember that most people are “Audio, Visual or Kinaesthetic” learners so if you just slab info you are only appealing to the visual or audio audience. So, this is why activities, workbooks and videos playing helps you to communicate to all three types and get your message across.
Fun and Interactive: In a workshop setting you want everyone to feel as welcome and comfortable to be included as possible. So always have some upbeat music playing, create a relaxed atmosphere and try to get some activities planned where your group need to interact together and get out of their chairs. It helps the energy flow in the room and also helps to allow those who are a little shy to mingle in smaller groups and participate. Post-it notes, coloured pens or sheets of paper are a must-have on the table!
Don’t be Afraid of Feedback: Feedback is the best way for your own growth and for future workshops. Don’t ever take it personally. If you are asking for feedback just remember everyone’s perception is their reality so seek to understand if you feel the feedback wasn’t a fair representation of the day. Prepare feedback forms either on the day or in a follow-up email within 48 hours so that you are fresh in the participant's minds. It’s always good to put in your diary to follow up a month later to see if the outcomes you set out to achieve with your audience has started to take place.