Sunday, June 15, 2014

Five Tips for Building a Successful Conference Workshop

Yesterday my lovely, smart and generous friend Darynda Jones gave the workshop for our monthly local chapter meeting. Giving presentations for small groups like this can be a great way to develop conference workshops. One of five I have to offer today.

Jeffe's Five Tips for Building a Successful Conference Workshop

1. Give the Peoples What They Want

I don't know about you guys, but people mention to me all the time what they'd like to learn. Sometimes they drop subtle hints. Sometimes they come right out and say "you should do a workshop on this." This is gold. Listen and give it to them. Caveat: convincing conference organizers can be a different matter entirely.

2. Basic Is Okay

I trip over this one time and again. I always figure people know stuff already and don't want a rehash. However, people don't necessarily know - and the fundamentals are called that for a reason. They always bear revisiting because they form the foundation for everything else. Also, people are most self-conscious about asking the basic questions, so it's good to touch base there.

3. Practice and Adapt

Find groups to give your workshop to, like Darynda is doing with us. Your local writers group or a group that sponsors online classes can be great places to test out a new conference workshop idea. Then pay attention to what people glom onto. What do they ask questions about? What gets them excited? If something doesn't work, no biggie. Now you know.

4. Use Your Own Experience

This is what people will want from you - what YOU have actually experienced, not what you read someone else doing. Seriously. Even if you think you don't have that much, it's still better to give your authentic, in-the-trenches feedback. Be honest and forthright - you likely have much more to offer than you think!

5. Leave Them Inspired.

Really, all anyone wants from a workshop is to leave it feeling fired up to get their own work done. Share your enthusiasm and energy and offer positive suggestions for moving forward. Even if you feel you only have a few substantive nuggets of information to offer, if you send people away feeling inspired, you've given a successful workshop.

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