Planning a workshop can feel pretty overwhelming because of its extended length and more deliberate schedule than a simple meeting, but the benefits of a successful workshop can make it worth all the trouble. At the same time, there are a lot of different factors that can separate a stellar workshop from a mundane one. Let's look at fifteen ideas to make sure your next workshop is a smashing success.
Are you hosting a workshop for your employees, managerial team, or potential customers? Planning a workshop can feel pretty overwhelming because of its extended length and more deliberate schedule than a simple meeting, but the benefits of a successful workshop can make it worth all the trouble.
At the same time, there are a lot of different factors that can separate a stellar workshop from a mundane one. Let's look at fifteen ideas to make sure your next workshop is a smashing success.
Workshops are long education sessions or interactive meetings that aim to achieve the desired end result. Typically, a central facilitator or trainer guides attendees through a sequence of collaborative activities and presentations.
Longer than your normal team meeting, workshops require quite a bit more preparation ahead of time in order to be successful. Focusing on hands-on interaction, workshops can last for several hours or even stretch on for multiple days.
There are a number of different types of workshops you might consider hosting at your organization, including strategic planning workshops, retrospective workshops, skills training workshops, and team-building workshops. Workshops are also a popular marketing strategy for businesses selling products or services as they allow customers to have a unique and memorable interaction with the brand from which they gain plenty of value.
A strategic planning workshop involves all of the leadership team members and allows them to work together to build a concise strategy for a department or organization.
This is an opportunity to set a course while also aligning the whole team toward a shared goal.
Retrospective workshops are used to reflect on a recently-finished project and go over what worked and what didn't.
What were the challenges that the team faced along the way, and what were some of the wins? Ultimately, what can be learned from the project as a whole and carried over to the next one?
There are pretty much an infinite number of workshop concepts you could run with when team building is your goal.
You might choose to go with something that is more "work-related," like a "lunch and learn" workshop where employees learn more about the industry and have an opportunity to engage in some hands-on projects. On the other end of the spectrum, maybe you just want to provide some space for people to get to know each other better through something lighthearted like a vision board workshop. Or, perhaps, you want to show your employees that you care about their health and well-being by offering a mindfulness workshop and organizing a virtual social event after the fact.
Finally, many businesses also host promotional workshops that are geared toward customers and clients rather than employees.
These can be a great way to build brand recognition, become known as an authority in your niche, and provide your target audience with valuable information.
There are a lot of reasons why you might want to invest your time and energy into organizing and hosting a workshop for your employees, managerial team, or customers.
In terms of your workers, some of the benefits include:
Whether you want your employees to learn a new skill or you want to introduce your customers to a new product, workshops take quite a bit of planning and preparation.
Let's look at fifteen ideas you can use to improve the next workshop you hold, whether virtually or in person.
When it comes to workshops, everything revolves around the concept. You can do everything else right– choose the best platform for your purposes, master the technology required, invite awesome speakers, and gamify the whole experience for maximum engagement– but if the topic is a little off, the whole thing can fall flat.
In order to pick the best central theme for your workshop, you'll want to first think about what your goals are, what your audience is looking for, and how those two overlap. In some instances, your workshop idea might be pretty straightforward, such as in the case of a retrospective workshop, but other times you might have a lot of leeway in terms of your topic of focus.
Being able to pinpoint exactly who your audience is and what makes them tick is essential to hosting a good workshop. Whether your audience is your team or a group of prospective customers, you'll want to tailor-fit the workshop's content to appeal to them and engage them. If you're hosting a workshop for people outside of your company, knowing your audience is also important to ensure that you are able to market on the right online channels.
When you're planning out your workshop, you'll want to try to put yourself in the shoes of the people who will be attending. If you were them, what would you find interesting, and what would make you want to take a little nap? How would you want the information presented?
Putting in the time and energy to plan out a workshop is no small feat, so having a clear sense of who your audience is, where they're coming from, and what they're looking for out of the event will go a long way in making it a success.
We've all been there. Whether it's a team meeting, a virtual presentation, or just a social hangout, there's nothing that disrupts the flow of a gathering of the minds quite like tech problems.
There are a lot of different moving parts when it comes to the tech of hosting a workshop. Not only do you want to get comfortable with the platform you choose to use, but you'll want to test out your mic, speakers, and any third-party software you're using before the big day.
We live in a world where just about every little bit of information is instantly at our fingertips. This means that if you're hosting a workshop on a topic, there's a good chance your attendees can find a lot of information about it by doing a simple Google search.
At the same time, people are also much more skeptical of theories and speculations without hard numbers to back them up.
For both of these reasons, you'll want to provide unique and data-driven resources that your attendees truly find valuable. Not only will it help you get across the central points clearly, concisely, and without any wishy-washiness, but it also shows your audience that they are gaining access to information through your workshop that they otherwise wouldn't have been able to come by easily.
Even if you have a business-focused concept at the center of your workshop, getting a little creative is okay. After all, you want to make sure everyone stays engaged and learns as much as possible, so having back-to-back lectures with no variety might not be the best call.
Whether you take some chances with a high-energy speaker or get a little quirky with some of the games you play, don't be afraid to keep things interesting with a little creativity.
The attention span of your attendees isn't infinite, and there's a certain point where they will simply no longer be able to take in more info.
Make sure you break your workshop up into sessions, encourage people to move around during their breaks, and focus on the most important information rather than drowning people in a million tiny details.
Humans have been telling stories for a really long time, so it's no wonder it can be one of the best ways to convey information to a group.
You might even find that telling a story that communicates some of your workshop's central ideas is what most attendees comment on in your post-workshop survey.
It's a good idea to break up long workshops with activities and games that give everyone a mental break and even a chance to move around.
You can incorporate icebreakers and energizers throughout your session to continuously build group cohesion and boost engagement.
Depending on the type of workshop you're hosting, it's possible that some of your attendees are primarily attending because of the networking opportunities in their field or even within their organization.
Whether you use breakout rooms or host a social event afterward, giving everyone a chance to chat and connect is a great way to make your workshop memorable.
One of the great things about workshops is that they bring a bunch of people together to work on one problem, learn a new skill, or discuss one central topic. At the same time, though, keeping everyone in the same room (whether digitally or otherwise) creates limitations on how your attendees can interact with each other.
For this reason, one thing you should definitely consider incorporating into your schedule is dividing people up into separate breakout rooms. This lets everyone get a say on the topic and discuss the aspects of the central theme that are most interesting or perplexing to them.
At the same time, this can help encourage networking and team building within the larger group, which is valuable to both the individuals involved and your organization.
A lot of times, people will save Q&A sessions for the end of workshops, conferences, and seminars. It can be really useful to hold several question-and-answer activities throughout the workshop, including one right at the very beginning.
When you have a Q&A right off the bat, it helps people engage right away rather than going into being-lectured-at-mode. It also shows that you want to know their thoughts and questions from the start, communicating that it's just as important to you to hear what they have to say as it is that they learn the information you're going to present or the skill you're teaching.
Participation is important when you want your workshop attendees to remember what they learned and have an all-around good time. Jumping things off with a Q&A session and holding them periodically through the course of the workshop is an excellent way to give everyone a chance to speak their mind.
Workshops don't have to be stand-alone events– they can also be a great addition to your next conference or virtual retreat!
Consider hosting a skill-learning workshop for your employees to learn something new and socialize with their coworkers.
It's easy to get bogged down in the details when planning a workshop. When you find yourself obsessing over tech concerns or at an impasse when it comes to which games you'll play, step back and focus on the most important thing: the value your audience will receive.
If you are able to keep this in mind while organizing your workshop, it will surely be a success!
This isn't going to be the last workshop you ever host, is it? We didn't think so. Considering that, you don't want to wipe your hands of the whole thing as soon as you say your goodbyes and end the workshop session.
Instead, you'll want to have a plan in place for gathering feedback so you can make your next workshop even better (if that's even humanly possible.)
There are a number of different platforms and software options you can use to send out surveys to attendees and receive the data in an organized and easy-to-digest way. Rather than sending out a simple "what'd you think?" style email, consider coming up with specific survey questions ahead of time so that you can get exactly the type of information you're looking for the first go-round.
Workshops can last several hours or even be multi-day events, which means that your attendees are definitely going to start getting hungry at some point (unless you're hosting a workshop for robots, of course.)
Breaks will be a necessary part of your workshops, both because people will have to drink water and go to the bathroom and also to let their minds rest for a moment for optimal information absorption. If you really want to help your attendees have a great time and refuel during a long session of brainstorming or learning, you'll definitely want to think about providing some food and drinks.
If you're hosting a virtual workshop, you likely think this advice doesn't apply to you. Actually, though, sending delicious treats right to the door of your attendees can be an awesome way to boost engagement and bring everyone together.
We know what you're thinking. How the heck am I going to send food to everyone that attends the workshop?
At PizzaTime, we specialize in catering virtual events of all kinds so you can focus on what's most important: putting on the best dang workshop this world has ever seen. Whether you want to offer breakfast and coffee, lunch, or an old time pizza feast, we've got you covered.