When you decide to start presenting to groups, whether it’s delivering online events or live workshops, one thing is for sure – you don’t want to put your audience to sleep with a monotonous lecture. Getting your message across in a captivating way can be the difference between an audience that is bored and uninspired to one that is engaged and motivated to take action. Below are some simple tips to take the worry out of delivering workshops. Putting these into place will not only help you build your confidence as a workshop facilitator, but they will have your audience running to sign up for your health histories before you wrap up. Put these suggestions into place to boost your confidence and step up your workshop game!
Workshop Tip #1: Lay the Foundation
Before you actually set out to deliver the workshop, you need to promote it! The first thing you’ll want to do is identify your target market. Next, it’s key to identify the message that will truly help them get to the next level with their health goals. Put yourself in their place and ask: what is it they really need to know, what it will take for them to get to the next level, and how can I help them to get there. Knowing the answers to these questions will help shape up the flow, formality, and framework of your workshop. Once you have completed this step, start to put together the following:
Attention-Grabbing Headlines: The presentations that receive the most positive response (I.e. signups) are usually the ones with an intriguing and compelling title. Keep this in mind when crafting the title of your workshop and consider effective formulas that will make your headlines work.
Develop a Theme: Using a theme to express your message is a good way to make your message connect with your audience. Coaches that use my Habits for Healthy Living! Workshops in their business, for example, deliver the talks through a lens that is focused on the similarities between achieving a healthy lifestyle when it comes to healthy habits. It’s a theme that permeates each workshop session and resonates with the attendees because it’s easy to understand.
Express The Value: Think about it – when you’re deciding whether to attend an event or sign up for a webinar, you probably want to know what you will get out of it. Well, your attendees will want to know what value they’ll get out of your event too! Typically, your attendees will be those who are already stretched thin on time (eg. busy overwhelmed moms who want to lose weight) so it’s critical to express the value of your event clearly when you’re promoting. They want to know exactly what they’ll walk away with, and that attending will be worth their time.
Workshop Tip #2: Tell a Story; Don’t Give a Lecture
The Queen of Storytelling
This may be the most important advice that I can give you. If you’re still reading this far – I have a treat for you. This piece of advice changed the entire way I view presentations and storytelling. Your story can either make or break your workshop. Whether you position yourself as a lecturer or storyteller will determine if people get and remain engaged, or simply tune out of your workshop.
You didn’t become a coach to lecture others. Being a coach and workshop leader means you are a facilitator of learning (and action-taking) through storytelling.
When you’re preparing for your workshop, you’ll want to align the content with a theme that runs from start to finish. Your intro should get the immediate attention of your attendees. Use a little humor if that comes to you naturally. Tell your story; share your “why.” Share something memorable that will be hard for them to forget. Something that will compel them to call up their spouse or BFF and share immediately as they drive home.
Workshop Tip #3: Get to Know the Group
Put simply, I’ve always been obsessed with getting to know the people in my audiences at workshops I’m running. I want to know their motivation for attending, what they hope to gain (so that I can deliver it!), and what they need the most help with right now. When you’re running workshops, it’s a good idea to immerse yourself in the culture of your attendees. For example, read the papers and magazines they read; find out what topics interest them (besides healthy habits if you’re using these list-building workshops). Are they coffee drinkers or tea drinkers? What are their values? This doesn’t have to be a research project. Getting to know the can be as easy as speaking with the facility host or arriving early and talking with a few people to find out what’s new in current affairs in their world. This helps you build rapport, and you’ll be able to demonstrate you’re not just there to lecture – but to connect.
A workshop is not the same as a lecture.
A workshop is about establishing two way dialogue with room for flexibility and “off topic” discussion that provide feedback to individual questions or problems. Hence, it’s critical to make the group feel warm and welcome right from the start. You want them to feel okay with interrupting you if they have an “Aha” as you speak or need clarification on something. Providing them with “positive reinforcement” by encouraging and responding to their questions will only further your rapport-building and likelihood that they will know, like, and trust you – and view you as the one that can help them achieve their health-related goals.
The best way to take the spotlight off of you is to get them talking.
As the workshop facilitator, you should always be cognizant of how many are in your group and how you can use that number for icebreakers or activities. Some ways to get engagement are to have individual shares asking each participant to answer a brief question. If the group size allows, have them break out into pairs or trios and do a few minutes of discussion on something and then have a “spokesperson” share with the larger group. Getting the group talking is a sure way to build engagement – and it allow you a few minutes here and there to take the “pressure” off of yourself. But when you ask a question, share your experience first and then turn to the group.
Workshop Tip #4: Let Your Passion (Not the Script) Lead
Your overall disposition as you lead a workshop is critical. Great workshop facilitators and presenters ignite their audience through their behavior as much as their content. It’s often the body language, facial expression, and what’s said “off the record” that spurs the passion and interest of the audience. Some of the most memorable events and speeches are remembered solely because of the passion within the speaker. They were not repeating memorized lines; rather, they used their passion to stimulate their audience’s emotions and get them connected to the message.
When you’re passionate about your topic and are speaking from a place of authenticity, instinct, knowledge, and passion – the audience will hear and feel you loud and clear. Your connection will be palpable with each person in the room as the looks on their faces indicate yet another lightbulb went off, and they start to nod their heads in agreement. This type of group cohesion is what every workshop facilitator should aim for, and there’s no better feeling than knowing that your message of wellbeing is causing a ripple (or wave!) right in front of your very own eyes.
Being passionate and prepared is a winning combination for workshops. There’s nothing worse for you or your attendees than having you read verbatim from a script or rely heavily on the slides for the material. Boring! Now, it is understandable that as you first venture into giving talks and workshops you’ll want to have your scripts and slides as a backup – but practicing the script so that your passion can shine through is a solid investment of your time. The more robotic you sound in your presentation will only give your audience reason to tune you out, leave early, or never feel connected enough to sign up for your discovery session or health history.
When you do use the scripts and slides, let them only be a guide to help you stay on track and keep you abreast of what key point you need to hit as soon as you click to the next slide.
Please don’t try to memorize an entire presentation word-for-word – or read directly from the notes. One trick I use when presenting is to put bold phrases in the margin of my script, just to help jog my memory of key points or examples I want to interject. And depending on the dynamics of each individual workshop, sometimes they fit and sometimes I’ll omit that point because it doesn’t tie in with the current discussion. Let this be intuitive, rather than a cookie cutter process.
Workshop Tip #5: Get the Dialogue Going
If you’re delivering a full-day or even half-day workshop, this may seem daunting – especially if you’ve become a slide-dependent presenter. The way to make the workshop enjoyable and compelling is to get your audience involved through activity or conversation. One way to accomplish this is to ask questions (open-ended questions are better than closed as they will usually lead to elaboration). When I conduct a workshop, I use a hacky sack or beach ball to cue everyone on who’s next in line to respond to a question I’ve asked the group. So, it may go something like this: you’ll ask a question and throw the ball (something light and soft please) to the first person you choose to answer. Then that person will throw the ball to the next person they select to answer, and so forth.
Diversifying your activities is a nice way to take the monotony out of the presentation and make it fun and memorable. This builds a connection amongst your audience members. Who knows they may all just sign up for your group coaching program if they all develop a bond that you helped to facilitate. Just saying. Putting people at ease while giving them awesome, healthy, life-impacting tips and strategies, and helping them form truly valuable connection and experiences? THIS is where the magic will start to unfold.
One of my former mentors gave me some valuable advice when I first became an instructor years ago. He never said it out loud but he demonstrated this every time we would co-lead a seminar or class. And I would like to pass this advice on to you: you’re already an expert, so just relax and have fun. Also, you won’t have the answer to every single question that’s thrown at you during a workshop – and that’s totally fine. Thank you, Dr. Miller! Remain fluid and flexible as you deliver workshops and have this same approach as you grow your business in general. This is not a linear process – and that’s a good thing! If it were, you might not have embarked on this in the first place. As you start delivering workshops and topics come up – this is giving you feedback and more content for your next workshop. The feedback you receive from your audience is what will help you to tap into their actual pain points and burning desire, allowing you to meet them exactly where they are and help in their transformation to a healthier life.
If your audience is not asking questions, they’re not connected. Plain and simple. Remain pliable in this process and allow the organic conversations to unfold and shape the direction of your workshop content and your discussions with the group. It’s about them; not you!
You’ve just learned five of my most effective tips that have helped me to consistently see great results from my workshops. These strategies are effective in both live and virtual events. You can see that these tips indicate that you just need passion, preparation, practice, and to remain pliable to truly start delivering memorable workshops.
I hope these five tips have inspired you to think and question how to improve your workshop, or how you can start implementing workshops to grow your coaching practice.
Now you are ready to start running your own workshops? I’d love to hear your game plan. Share in the comments below!