When it comes to teaching attendees a new skill or conducting a training or brainstorming session, a hands-on and interactive workshop might well be the kind of event format you need. Here are five ideas for hosting a successful workshop.
Conferences, seminars, workshops – which one is right for your event? Whether it’s B2B, B2C or internal, knowing exactly what you want to achieve from your event will help you select the right format.
What is a workshop?
Compared to a conference, a workshop is usually a shorter and more intimate event that involves a limited number of attendees and is focused on a specific topic. They are usually less formal than a conference, but will adhere to a structure that aims to educate and actively involve attendees. As opposed to a seminar, a workshop revolves around an element of instruction instead of discussion.
How do you organise a workshop?
Once you have an idea for a workshop, it’s important to start on the event creation process as early as possible. Securing a venue, drawing up a budget, promoting the event – the key steps involved in planning a successful workshop are really no different from any other event.
Workshop best practices: a checklist
How do you lead a workshop?
Welcome people to your workshop by introducing yourself and outlining how the next few hours will be spent. Then immediately get your attendees involved by asking them to take turns to introduce themselves. Ask what they want to get out of the event and whether there are any specific areas they want to focus on. Of course, you will have an agenda for the event, but it can pay to be reactive and respond positively to attendees.
How do you structure a workshop?
Leading a workshop means having a clear agenda. Be realistic about how much material you will be able to cover and factor in time for breaks and a Q&A segment towards the end. Intersperse the instructive segments with interactive and hands-on elements. Encourage attendees to talk to each other and allocate time for demonstrations and practical exercises. At the end of your workshop, be sure to provide a list of useful resources and actionable tips that attendees can refer to in the future.
How can you make a workshop interactive?
A great teacher holds people’s attention and can take even the most technical or tricky subject and make it simple. Avoid delivering a lecture at all costs and, instead, introduce a few activities to keep your audience engaged. It doesn’t matter if you are teaching people calligraphy, coding or cryptocurrency trading, adding props – like a magic wand, a puppet or a mini blackboard – will bring a visual element to the teaching process. Similarly, games are a great way for people to learn without even realising it. Introduce timed tasks, team challenges and on-the-spot quiz questions.
How long should a workshop last?
How long can you hold someone’s attention? Ensuring your agenda is varied will help keep people engaged and, by gathering feedback, you’ll quickly find ways to refine your approach. That is why it’s so important to ask attendees what they thought about the workshop via a quick survey, which they either fill out at the end of the workshop or online at a later date.
5 impactful workshop ideas
1. Boost your business
Workshops are a brilliant way for small business owners to showcase their expertise to a roomful of potential clients. From people offering business services (for example, solicitors and accountants) to lifestyle gurus such as personal shoppers, make-up artists and fitness coaches, anyone who can speak knowledgeably on a subject can host a workshop.
2. Give people a chance to network
Add a networking opportunity to your professional workshop, and you could see ticket sales skyrocket. People want to make new connections outside of B2B events as well, so make sure that your workshop includes a breakout session or a chance to mingle with other attendees over a few drinks.
3. Embrace new technology
This might be showcasing new technology that your company has developed or is relevant to your industry (like 3D printing), or technology that enhances the learning experience – think videos or VR.
4. Team up with like-minded partners
If you are running a craft workshop, why not see if you can find a local sponsor to supply the material? They will receive exposure, and you can treat attendees to a goody bag and a discount code to shop at their store.
5. Think outside the box when it comes to venues
Inspire attendees by holding a workshop in a venue that’s related to what you are teaching – flower-arranging in a florist, bookbinding in a library – or escape traditional corporate surroundings and teach a business topic in a coffee shop or co-working hub.
For more inspiration, search ‘workshop’ on Eventbrite to see what other event organisers are doing in this space and, when you are ready to embark on the planning process, download our checklist template.