How To Organize A Successful Workshop

What is a Workshop?

According to Merriam-Webster, a workshop is defined as “a usually brief intensive educational program for a relatively small group of people that focuses especially on techniques and skills in a particular field.”

Most workshops have several things in common:

  • As we mentioned in the definition, they’re for small groups, often 6-20 people.

  • They are an all-in-one learning opportunity. Although there may be handouts or resources, the material should be able to stand on its own.

  • Unlike a classroom setting or lecture, they’re informal.

  • Participation is encouraged, and participants often have the opportunity to practice new skills or join the discussion.

  • The group of participants is made up of people who are tied together by a common thread. They may work in the same industry or all be female entrepreneurs for example.

  • They are held over a short period of time, often a few hours to a full-day.

Why Run a Workshop?

There are a number of different ways you could choose to connect with your audience, provide value and educate, so why run a workshop?

They create an ideal environment for learning, growth, and building relationships.

Unlike social media, workshops are in-personal and allow for a deeper connection with your audience. You can quickly build trust and the audience can get to know you as a multidimensional being rather than a two-dimensional image on a screen.

Putting on a successful workshop creates instant authority.

When you enlighten or educate somebody, you immediately are seen as somebody with expertise. This can set you apart from all the other people who are offering similar services.

As long as you adhere to CASL(Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation), running a workshop can add to your email list. This will allow you to follow up and stay in contact with the workshop participants.

Unlike a traditional 1-on-1 sales conversation, a workshop allows you to connect 1-to-many. This is a more efficient use of your time and increases your odds of sales success. (Caution: You never want your presentation to be a big sales pitch. More on this later.)

The sense of community and common purpose that can be created during a workshop is another good reason to put one on.

There’s something great about seeing a group of people come together to learn something new.

Plan and Prepare a Workshop

The big difference between a successful workshop and one that’s a flop, is preparation.

We’ve put together a list of questions to set you up for workshop success.

What is the business objective of the workshop?

You may really love to run workshops and teach people, but there should be a clear business objective tied to the workshop.

If you’re investing the time, energy and money to run a workshop, it should somehow support your business.

It can be brand awareness, lead generation or direct sign-up from the workshop, but there should be a clear purpose behind it.

What are you going to teach?

You need to define your workshop with a topic and title.

This is what will hook people in and help them determine whether they want to learn more or move along.

When choosing your topic here are a few things to consider:

  • What is easiest for you to teach?

  • Can you make it easy to learn, fun or interesting?

  • What do people want to learn?

  • Will participants require any previous knowledge or skill?

If you are hoping to move people toward a sale, than think about how you are going to provide value and naturally move into the sales conversation.

If you’ve done a good job it will be less about selling than it’ll be about getting participants ready to buy from you.

How will you price your workshop?

To charge or not to charge, that is the first pricing question.

If you offer your workshop for free, you will generally get a higher number of people sign up, but the number who will actually show up for your event is often lower than if you charge a fee.

Charging a fee requires a larger commitment from the participant which increases the likelihood that they will show up. Plus, it can help to cover the costs associated with the workshop and provide some revenue for you.  

If you do decide to charge, Eventbrite has a free guide on how to price your workshop.

How many participants?

If you’ve already chosen a location, the number of people will be dictated by the size of the room. Make sure the room will be comfortable, and avoid creating a situation in which people will feel crammed in together.

If the venue hasn’t been decided, than consider your goals for the workshop and what you want participants to walk away with.

When the goal is an interactive workshop, it’s best to limit the group to 6-12 people. You want to make sure there’s enough of you to give everybody the support needed and create the best possible experience.

If you have an assistant or the workshop is more of a presentation than hands-on learning experience, you could bump the number of participants up.

Try to ensure that whatever the number of participants you’re working to create the best possible experience for the people who come.

The Venue: Where will you run workshop?

There a lot of options when if comes to choosing a location for your event.

Most coworking locations, like ours, have meeting rooms available that can be booked by members or non-members. Our Edmonton URBN Cowork location has a number of meeting rooms people can book for a workshop.

Meeting Room - URBN Cowork South Edmonton

Meeting Room - URBN Cowork South Edmonton

If you’re running your workshop in Strathcona County, we recently put together an article with event location options in Sherwood Park.

When choosing your location consider:

  • Number of workshop participants

  • Amenities and equipment required - TV, WiFi, etc.

  • Amenities included with the space - parking, coffee, etc.

  • Accessibility

  • Price

Another tip for finding a location is to check out where other people are hosting similar events. Run a local search on Meetup or Eventbrite and you’ll get some good leads on options for your workshop location.

Lastly, go check out the space. It will be the home base for your workshop and trusting online pictures or reviews could be a big mistake.

Will you allow time for networking?

Successful-Workshop-Networking.jpg

Another way to ensure you take advantage of the opportunity to connect with the people who come to the workshop is to allow time for networking.

This can be done before or after the session and is often a welcome opportunity for participants to connect with some new people.

If you have any concerns about traffic or people arriving on time, having the networking first creates a natural buffer for you.

Offering the chance to network after your presentation, encourages the conversation to continue and gives people some extra time to connect with you.

Bonus tip: Watch and learn

Yes, there are a number of things to take into consideration when organizing a workshop.

If you’ve never done one before and feel a little lost or overwhelmed, we have a tip for you.

Take some time before trying to run your own, to attend a few workshops.

Doing so will give you the chance to see what feels like a good fit for you and your audience.

The ATB Entrepreneur Centre runs a lot of workshops and they offer sessions in both Edmonton and Sherwood Park.

When you’re ready to run your workshop, let us know and if it’s a good fit for our community, we’ll help spread the word.

~ Heather

PS: If you haven't had the chance to check out our coworking spaces in Edmonton and Sherwood Park, Dylan & I would love to show you around and answer your questions about coworking. Book a tour now.