How to Run a Stellar Workshop

After you’ve planned and promoted your workshop, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and think like a professor. Planning ahead is what separates a stellar workshop from a so-so one: it ensures you’re on schedule, that there are no awkward fumbles, and that you look and sound legit. And if you’ve got workshop jitters, planning can be a silver bullet for confidence.

Prepping For Your Workshop

Before we get into the nitty gritty, here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  • They’re called workshops for a reason: People sign up for workshops expecting to roll up their sleeves and get into hands-on work. Anything else is a lecture, class, or shameful excuse to drone on in front of a disappointed audience. While you will need to do some talking to offer a point of connection and instruction, make sure the majority of energetic output is coming from your guests.
  • Intimate groups are better: The smaller the group, the more hands-on you can be. Try to keep your workshop to 25 people or less to ensure everyone gets the care and attention they deserve. If you find you’ve had more than that sign up (lucky you!) consider splitting your workshop into two different events, or hiring a friend to assist.
  • Guinea Pigs are key: Doing a dry run with friends is a quick way to spot potential disasters in a forgiving environment. It can be tough to estimate how long an exercise will take in a group of newbies—a run through with friends new to the activity will give you a better sense of timing, including how much time to allot for questions.     

Making a Workshop Outline

Even if you’re not a planner by nature, a workshop checklist will be a sanity saver on the day of (and leading up to) your workshop. We like to divvy our checklists into two parts:

  1. Pre-workshop checklist: This includes any materials you need to pick up, food you need to prepare, furniture you need to set up, takeaways you need to print, or smaller details like turning on the heat or AC to create a comfortable environment.
  2. Workshop agenda: Create a rough timeline of events, from making introductions, to explaining your exercises, debriefing, giving out handouts, cleaning up, and following up.

Leading Your Workshop  

Your workshop should start with some kind of intro exercise, but we recommend reading the energy of the room before announcing your plan—a room full of introverts will prefer something more succinct, while a more extroverted bunch might want more air time.

After that, you can dive into explaining your exercise, then offer a highly narrated demo. Depending on the complexity of the project, you might need to break this into little steps, allowing people to do the work in between.

Once everyone’s projects are completed, conclude with a debrief as a final connection point. The room should also look like a creative haven (or mess) at this point, so take the opportunity to snap a few photos, and encourage your guests to do the same.

Lastly, offer some sort of takeaway. This could be directions, a recipe card, or shopping list for the required materials. It’s a great keepsake, and will be a reminder of your workshop in creative moments to come.

Ask for Feedback

Somewhere between 24 hours and a week after your workshop, send out a friendly email to thank everyone for coming, and ask them to provide some quick feedback on their experience. Here at Fieldtripp, we send all our guests a post-workshop survey sweetened with a $10 gift card as an extra incentive to respond.

Once your workshop is completed, your experiences are logged in your memory, and feedback has been collected, you can start preparing for your next one.

Ready to run a workshop? Learn more how to host yours on Fieldtripp here.

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