Tuesday, June 17, 2014

5 More Workshop Funs...

Did you read Jeffe's  5 Tips for Building a Successful Conference Workshop on Sunday? Yes? Good, 'cause those fundamentals are important and I'm going to give you...

5 More Workshop Funs:

1: Workshop Does Not Equal Lecture:  If you slept through the better portion of undergrad, then you know very few folks learn by simply listening.  Incorporating interaction -- through direct questions is good, through a game is better -- will prevent you from being likened to Ben Stein in Ferris Buller's Day Off.

2: Writing the Workshop: As fiction writers, we should rock scripting a workshop (and yes, you should write and act it all out before you set foot in the conference room, especially if public speaking is not your forte). Plotting, pacing, building up to a climax, the big reveal, and the denouement -- all those structures of a novel truly do apply to a workshop. Just expect the audience to be somewhat like your editor -- asking for clarifications in some spots while demanding you trim others. Keep your tangents to a minimum and your voice clear. The rest is easy.

3: Bait & Refer: An hour-long workshop will go by very quickly for those at the front of the room. If your workshop is only an hour, whatever you are teaching is going to be the Cliff Notes version. Doesn't matter if you're presenting How To Apply Lip Liner or Textiles During The Norman Invasion, be prepared to Bait and Refer. Your most effective teaching plan is to secure your audience's interest by baiting them with an enticing set-up, hooking them with a shallow answer, then referring them to your website for the more in depth explanation.

4:  Handouts: If people have taken planes to attend your workshop, they will not be taking handouts home.  Keep the bulk of the information online for attendees to research/print at their leisure. The most you can reasonably expect to make the trek home is one sheet of paper tri-folded into a brochure.  Having a brochure shows the attendees you are prepared to discuss the topic while respecting the constraints of time and space. Key elements of the brochure are: Workshop topic; highlights of Bait & Refer (see above); one blank panel for notes; and your info. Keep in mind, your brochure could/will end up discarded all over town.  It's accidental advertising. Let it work for you, but don't let the upsell dominate the topic.  

5: A Timer Is Your Friend: Bring a timer. Use a timer. Even seasoned pros on the speaker circuits use timers. They not only keep you mindful your pacing, but they're effective for managing Q&A (especially if you have one of the THOSE GUYS as mentioned in last week's posts).


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