How to conduct your first workshop


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 This past week, I had the pleasure to host my first workshop on creating a strong brand for your career and business. To say that I was intimidated is an understatement! After all, conducting a workshop, especially your very first one, requires you to be adequately prepared, stand in front of an audience, and deliver valuable information, preferably without shaking, sweating profusely, or battling not to throw up your lunch…

As someone who tends to dread public speaking, signing up for a live workshop had me reaching for as much chocolate and coffee I could ingest in the least amount of time. Talk about stressful…

Interestingly enough, as the workshop happened (yes, I did show up), and went on, I enjoyed the experience so much that I actually wasn’t looking forward to it ending. I’m proud to say it was a success, which is why I’m here to share some of the nuggets of wisdom I learnt, applied and will enhance for my next workshop. These tips can be applied to virtually any presentation you may have to make in the future…

 

THE BEFORE

There’s always a “before” and after. When it comes to conducting any type of presentation, especially a workshop, the “before” happens to be as important, if not even more important, than the “during” or the “after”. What you do before standing in front of your workshop audience is crucial and determines how well you will actually do.

  • Set Goals: What is the Workshop’s Why?

What are you trying to achieve with this workshop or presentation? Are you teaching your audience about enhancing their career or business? Is this to help with team building? Are you trying to improve existing procedures?

Understanding and clearly defining your workshop’s goals helps you FOCUS the direction of your workshop. Think of it as a rallying cry for your audience! Besides, knowing exactly what you’re after will help you communicate it more effectively to your audience, while avoiding going in all directions and confusing people. It’s also a great assessment tool at the end of your workshop, to determine if you’ve met your goal, and what you need to improve on for the next time.

 

  • Mind Your Logistics!

Attendance or location may seem minor details at first, but they’re a hugely important part of conducting your workshop. Make sure you know exactly the location of your event. As the presenter, it’s your responsibility to get there ahead of time and be familiar with the room and equipment you’ll have at your disposal.

This also means making sure that everything is working as it’s supposed to before the event. The last thing you’d want is not to have a computer screen for your slide show on the day of, right? Make sure to confirm all these at least one day in advance, so the technical and logistical part of your presentation goes as planned.

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  • Get your mindset right!

This should have actually been the very first point of this post. Any presentation or workshop you’re conducting will require you to be mentally sharp, present, as well as emotionally available. This is not just a matter of regurgitating information, but of actually engaging your audience, impart your knowledge and leave everyone in the room better off than they were before you left.

Practice meditation or breathing exercises prior, do your power pose, repeat favorite affirmations, whatever it takes to get your mind to a peaceful and productive place! 

  • Have an agenda!

Right along with defining goals for your workshop, make sure to have an agenda. I usually include it as one of the opening slides in my workshop if I’m using a PowerPoint presentation

It helps guide your presentation, and give both you and the audience a clear idea as to the structure of the workshop.

THE DURING

While what you do before a workshop usually sets the tone for it, what you do during it can spell success or doom. Here a few tips to get a handle of your workshop as you deliver your outstanding presentation:

  • Be there early! 

Ok, let’s be real, I can be a bit on the late side. But getting to the workshop site early made a significant difference!

For one, it helped me put myself at ease mentally and get my bearings, in terms of setting the equipment, get the technology side running and taking a last look at my notes.

But the most important factor for me was the ability to establish a personal contact with the audience before even starting. This included greeting the audience, getting to know everyone’s name, profession, etc. 

  • Make it a conversation!

The key to a successful workshop is engagement. So instead of standing in front of your audience lecturing, turn it instead into a living, breathing exchange of ideas.

Every section of my workshop started and ending with a question. After speaking for a while or noticing a lag of interest in the audience, I immediately switched into question mode, which kept them engaged.

  • Use your audience as part of your presentation!

Another way to keep your audience engaged is to elaborate on their participation. Did one audience member mention they’re actively looking for a new job? Or that their department’s policies are in dire need of improvement?

Build on these tidbits of information to make your arguments even more relevant. It’s one thing to use generalized examples and another (better) to actually use your audience for tangible advice!

THE AFTER

Your workshop doesn’t end the minute you’re done with your last slide or argument. There are many ways to leverage your presentation even after you’re done:

  • Have a Q&A!

While your workshop should be open to questions at regular intervals, closing it with an official Q&A is a great way to wrap up! 

Aside from being able to help your audience further, the Q&A also helps you come up with other great ideas for future workshops!

  • Ask for feedback!

Pass around a feedback sheet or ask for verbal feedback if possible. You want to know what worked and what didn’t, so you can improve the next time around! Plus it doesn’t hurt to get some encouragement along the way…

  • Follow up!

If possible, get your attendees’ email addresses and follow up with them after the workshop. It could be as simple as an email thanking them for attending, and encouraging them to stay in touch with you via your email list or any other medium you deem acceptable.

What other advice do you have for conducting a successful workshop?

To Your Success,

The Corporate Sis

 

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