How to Design a Successful Workshop

What does the idea of a successful workshop mean to you? Is it one where you come away with a perfect understanding of a new concept? Would it mean further refining skillset? Could your employees walk away with a better understanding of a new organizational strategy?

Does all that sound like wishful thinking?

Chances are, if you’re like most people, you’ve attended workshops that delivered just a fraction of the content they were supposed to share—and often that becomes a scenario. It doesn’t need to be that way! Unfortunately, many of us fall into the same pitfalls and make the same mistakes we’ve seen over and over again. That’s not because we don’t want to make better content, it’s because designing a workshop takes a long time and it’s easy to get lost in the content and forget the most important part of the program: the audience.

  • Practice makes Perfect
    You know what everyone hates? Going to listen to a speaker and realizing that while they may be a subject matter expert (SME) when it comes to content, they’re woefully underprepared to deliver it. The fact of the matter is that understanding of content does not mean a speaker is prepared to present. The best way to do solve this disconnect and have your audience take you seriously? Practice.
  • Understand your Audience
    Are you delivering to a bunch of folks in business formal attire? Better stay professional. Is your presentation being given on a warehouse floor to Hi-Lo drivers? Probably best to avoid overly florid speech. The point is that it doesn’t matter who you’re presenting to, it’s that you know how to speak their language in a way they will appreciate and want to listen to.
  • Cut the Fat
    We get it. You know a lot about a subject and you’re going to make sure everyone learns everything they can in the time allotted. But is that really the best choice? The fact is there’s no way you’re going to be able to make a room full of novices into SMEs, but you do need them to remember the most important parts of your presentation. If it’s not crucial, it might be best to include it in supplemental materials.
  • Keep it Interesting
    When you’re putting together material to present there are going to be times when you get bored. This is a warning sign! If you’re getting bored there’s almost a guarantee your audience will be too. The best way to avoid that? Part one is to clean out as much of the yawn-inducing content as possible. Part two is to massage the existing materials until the boring sections are either lessened or delivered in an interactive matter.
  • Know When to go Off Topic
    Workshops are often focused and meant to deliver the most content possible within a certain allotment of time. However, adhering too strictly to a schedule can make a presentation seem stuffy. That’s not to say you shouldn’t stay on track, but it does mean you can allow the occasional five-minute tangent before diving back on track. The important thing is understanding when to allow these sidebar conversations and when not to. Just about to break for lunch? Let it happen. Delivering an important section critical to the learning? The sidebar can wait.

There’s a lot to consider when developing a workshop, but there’s no need to overthink it. For the last twenty years the experts at industry giants like Meijer and LG Chemical Solution have been partnering with SDI to develop and refine their training needs, and we’d like to do the same thing for your organization. When you’re ready to move forward with clarity, call SDI.

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Aric Davis

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Aric Davis is the Amazon best selling author of "The Fort" and "Tunnel Vision" and has been working professionally as a writer since 2010. Currently, he is a Performance Analyst at SDI Clarity and helps to develop written content into interactive experiences.