This guide will help you plan your workshop, no matter if you are a full-time planner or just starting.
Let’s first clear up any confusion. Workshops can be used to refer to many types of events. Merriam-Webster defines a workshop as “a typically brief, intensive educational program that focuses on specific techniques and skills for a small group of people.”
A workshop is a small event that aims to provide informational value for attendees. Some examples of workshop ideas are photography lessons, coding classes and creative writing sessions. It goes beyond this. With the right planning, almost anything can be transformed into a workshop.
How to plan a workshop? These 20+ tips and tricks will help you.
This is everything you need before, during, or after your workshop to ensure it’s a huge success.
1. Answer the 5 Ws and 1 H.
Your workshop is made up of the 5 Ws and 1 H. Once you have the outline, it will be easy to share with your collaborators and create a roadmap that can help everyone get on the same page.
The meanings of the 5 Ws (and 1H) are:
- Who will host this workshop?
- What type workshop is it? A professional training workshop, for example, will be very different from a yoga workshop.
- When do you plan to do it? Do you want to do it as a single event?
- Where will this workshop be held? Will it be held in person? What are your expectations for participants?
- Why this Workshop and why now? What are the reasons attendees should be there?
- Based on what you already know, how will this workshop be executed?
2. Your workshop goals
You may already know how to create S.M.A.R.T. goals. Creating goals for workshops presents its own challenges.
The first is your experience level. You can review past experiences to see what went well and what needs improvement. You’ll need to dig deeper to determine what you can expect from it. Ask hosts who have hosted similar events in your region if they would be open to sharing their experiences.
The second is to predict how many people will attend. You might need to invite everyone if you are running a workshop for an organization. You don’t need to worry about attendance in that situation. If you are hosting an event that does not have a guaranteed audience, check out statistics related to your workshop and the average attendance rates.
3. Select a type
The type of workshop you choose will affect how it is planned, whether it is in-person, virtual, professional training, or yoga session. If you host a virtual sound bath you will need to provide the audio equipment necessary to make it a memorable experience.
4. Create a team
A team can help make a big project easier. Even if the workshop is for in-house employees, it may be possible to recruit volunteers from your friends, coworkers and speakers. Ask stakeholders to share their ideas. Set up a weekly meeting with stakeholders and estimate how much time each participant will need.
5. Research your audience
You should look for the type of content you are looking for (audio, video, memes, etc.). What type of content (video, audio, etc.) appeals to them the most? Start brainstorming activities that are based on their workshop goals. You can start a survey or poll to get feedback from your audience if you are in direct communication.
6. Draw up a budget
Create a spreadsheet listing all the items you will need for your workshop. You can include everything, from venue rentals to digital ads. Add the quotes and prices for each. Calculate your potential revenue if you’re hosting a for-profit event. Next, determine if the cost to host the workshop is reasonable compared with the expected admission prices.
7. Make an agenda
Begin by explaining what the workshop is about, who the speakers are, as well as the purpose of the workshop. A main lecture, breakout sessions that encourage participants to interact with one another, and a closing reflection or Q&A should be included.
8. Learn from the competition
You can find similar events online so you can get an idea of how planners do it and what you can do to improve. To help you create your own workshop, look for details such as the length of activities, themes, bonuses, descriptions, and themes.
9. Choose a date to host the workshop
When choosing the dates and times for your workshops, keep in mind your audience. If you are trying to reach bartenders then don’t hold your workshop on weekends or evenings.
10. Your communication plan should be written
Ask yourself these questions:
- What and how will you communicate with your workshop attendees?
- Which channels should you use for them?
- What can you do to add value beyond just advertising your workshop?
11. Create a marketing calendar
Looking for a place to start? A few social media channels and an email list should suffice. You should schedule time to approve, draft, share, respond to and respond to comments on each piece of content that you publish.
12. Get ready for sales
Select your ticketing platform, and decide how you will accept payment in person. Include equipment and fees in your event budget .
13. Create your content
You should have at least three to four pillars on which to base your content. You can have one pillar that is your workshop. The others should be related to interesting topics. Remember that the goal of your workshop should be to create community and not just sell, sell, sale.
14. Find locations
Create a list of possible venues and types to host an event in person. If you are hosting virtually, choose the software platform that you would like to use.
15. Strategize your layout
To plan your workshop, use our Event Diagramming Tools. Spaces will be needed for activities, check-in, breakout rooms, as well as any other special spaces, such a patio for cocktails after the workshop.
16. Plan your activities
Workshop activities that are successful include an icebreaker about the workshop theme, followed by your main event and decompression period. Here is where you can do competitor research. You can take your favourite ideas from similar events and add your own twist.
17. Partnering is an option
Consider partnerships with brands that could benefit your event or your audience if you haven’t yet. A yogi-centric tea business would be one example of a brand that could benefit your yoga audience. One brand that can benefit your event is a local yoga studio that has offered one their teachers as a workshop leader.
18. Get tools
This includes everything, from pencils to projectors to your preferred email newsletter platform. This step is important in case you need an item shipped or you wish to try out software.
19. Review workshop best practices
You need to ensure that your speaker is aware of the energy they will bring to the event. Keep in mind that although you will need to outline your presentation, the event should still flow naturally with the mood of the group. This means that you should allow participants to speak and improve your dialogue. Also, keep a few extra segments in your pocket in case you need them.
20. Do a huddle
In the days before the event, gather with your team. If you don’t have a Plan B, review everyone’s responsibilities and go over your day-of plans.
21. Organise a dry run
This step is particularly important if your event is online. You should check the internet speed, audio and video quality, as well as lighting conditions for all hosts. Check out software programs to see if any updates are required before you can use them.
22. Host a postworkshop analysis
Researchers from the University of Oxford and University of Manchester developed a method to measure workshop impact. Their findings show that it is important to understand why impact is needed in the first place, and to balance this with the time and effort required to organize the workshop and the time and effort we want to spend evaluating it.
It continues to say that “With good measurement, we can convince founders that they will continue and support the work we do, encourage people into our workshops, and feel satisfied that our work with our workshops is worth it and making a positive impact.” You now know how to plan a workshop!