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Issue #15 • March 2018

4 Tips to Make Workshops Your Business’s Next Secret Weapon

Business Models Content Marketing

With the rise of entrepreneurs creating and selling online courses and eBooks, should we take it as a sign and rule out in-person teaching? We don’t think so.

Having diversified streams of income not only helps stabilize your business but also helps you reach more people with what you have to offer. Even if much of your audience is online, you can use live workshops as an opportunity to create lasting connections within your local community.

Making face-to-face connections will never become obsolete. We’re wired for local community, to feel a sense of belonging in a group of people that meets around a table rather than around a computer.

It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You may find it freeing to experiment with both. Once you decide to grow your offline community and share your knowledge in person, you may think about hosting a meetup or live workshop.

how to host a live workshop

What’s the difference between a meetup and a live workshop?

An in-person meetup joins a group of like-minded people together with the sole purpose of networking and connecting. A live workshop, however, usually has a core theme and walks attendees through a specific curriculum.

There can still be networking opportunities within a live workshop but it’s more of a bonus. The real reason why people are gathered together is to learn from an expert.

Can you think of any service you provide that could be turned into a live workshop? Maybe you could convert one of your products into a multiple-hour class. There’s so many possibilities that you’re sure to find the perfect fit for your niche.

The basics of making workshops successful

If this is the first live workshop you’ve decided to host, congratulations for taking the first step toward bringing your online community offline!

While you may have planned webinars and online courses in the past, planning an in-person workshop takes a different approach.

Here’s a few of our best tips on how to plan and facilitate a live workshop that allows you to help more people in an open, encouraging setting.

make-workshops-audienceDetermine your ideal audience

Rather than start with what you want to teach, think about what your intended audience wants to learn about. Your live workshop is more about them than it is about you, so make sure you understand who you’re targeting before you start planning your workshop.

If you’re having trouble defining who your ideal audience is, try some of these exercises to get your wheels turning.

  • Make a list of people you’re already connected with who may benefit from your workshop
  • Send a survey to your current audience to see who’s most interested in your topic
  • Join conversations on social media about your topic and see who’s participating
  • Do market research to see if there are any other workshops in your area that are teaching something similar

making-workshops- outlineOutline your presentation

Once you’ve chosen your workshop’s ideal audience, you can move on to outlining your idea. I recommend spending an uninterrupted block of time brainstorming and creating your live workshop outline so you won’t be distracted by technology. It happens to the best of us!

It’s usually best if you can “brain dump” all of your ideas on a sheet of paper and organize them in chronological order afterward. This helps you think and create freely before having to strategize.

making-workshops- determine-nameChoose a name

Once you have a solid view of what will be covered in your live workshop, you can start brainstorming names. This is often where entrepreneurs get stuck. Instead of feeling pressured to come up with the most clever name, choose a title that’s clear and concise.

Think about the keywords you’ll be using in the description of your live workshop, and then mix and match them to see what you come up with. If you were teaching an Instagram workshop, your keywords may be “Instagram”, “influence”, “growth”, “engagement”, and “photography”.

From there, you could combine words until you come up with a name like “Instagrowth for Creative Entrepreneurs” or “Instagram Influence for Professional Bloggers”. See how we added your ideal audience into the title? It’s a great way to market your live workshop.

making-workshops-setting-a-dateSet a date

This is when your workshop planning starts to feel real. It’s time to set a date! This is a crucial step before you start marketing your live workshop because “when is it?” is one of the first questions people will ask.

This may seem like a no brainer, but make sure there’s ample time around the date in your own schedule so you don’t have to race to the finish line at the end. Take it from someone who has overbooked herself around an event. It’s not worth it!

Pro tip: Also, you’ll want to keep in mind what seasons are optimal for your specific audience. Let’s say you wanted to create a website building workshop for wedding vendors. You’d probably want to wait until their off season in the winter to offer your workshop, otherwise they’ll be too busy doing the work to focus on their own business.

If you’re still not sure when you should host your live workshop, send a survey to your audience or even create a Twitter or Instagram poll to see when people are available. You won’t be able to choose a time that works for everyone, but you can at least see what works best.

making-workshops-venueBook the venue

This step is one of the fun parts: booking a live workshop venue! Once you’ve set the date, you can start contacting nearby venues to see who is available on that date. The earlier you can do this, the better so you have first dibs.

Choosing a venue comes down to finding a space that is the right size. While you may find a beautiful venue that comfortably fits 100+ people, you don’t need all that space if you’re planning an intimate workshop for a dozen people. Maybe think about hosting another event in that bigger space later in the year.

You may also want to think about if the live workshop is a one-time event or if you plan on hosting workshops regularly. If it’s a one-time event, you can book the venue for a set time and you’re done. If you’re hosting more events, you may want to secure more dates and see if you can get a deal on booking multiple days.

making-workshops-promotePromote your live workshop

Now all that’s left to do is promote your workshop. Much of your time in the planning stage will go into launching your live workshop, especially if it is your first one. You first want to build awareness around the workshop so you can gauge your audience’s interest.

When you get ready to sell tickets, think about creating an email sales funnel to promote your event or a motivating email challenge to inspire them to take action. You can also promote the workshop on social media and through blog posts. The sky’s the limit!

4 quick tips to rock your live workshop presentation

You have enough tasks on your to-do list now before you launch your live workshop, but I want to leave you with a few tips on how to feel more confident in your day-of presentation.

As an introvert myself, talking in front of a live audience can feel a little nerve-wracking to say the least. After I speak, I always feel energized but getting myself on stage is half the battle. Here’s a few reminders that may help you before you present your workshop material.

Add value to your presentation

If you can help one person with one game-changing thing in their business, then your live workshop was a success. You may be surprised just how influential one portion of your presentation was after receiving feedback from your attendees.

If you’re feeling nervous about speaking in front of an audience, view it more like a conversation between a few friends over coffee. Heck, even bring coffee if it helps! When you think about the workshop being a platform where you can share what you’ve learned with people who want to hear about your experiences, it becomes a lot easier.

Practice, practice, practice

No one starts hosting live workshops as a total pro right away. I recommend rehearsing a few sections of your workshop or creating bullet point slides to keep you on track. As they say, practice makes perfect.

If you’re still feeling nervous, maybe you can change your mindset. Remind yourself that this workshop is an opportunity to get paid to improve your speaking skills, perfect your workshop curriculum, and network with professionals in your area. It’s sounding better already, isn’t it?

Go above and beyond with materials

Take a step back to think about the full experience of the workshop. It’s not only about what you’re teaching but also about what attendees can take away from the event.

making-workshops-handouts

Because of this, you may want to create printed handouts, activities, and worksheets so they can put their new skills into action while your class is still in session. Take a moment to walk around and help attendees while they go through each exercise. Answering their personal questions is what makes your workshop even more valuable.

Educate your audience on what you offer

Live workshops are a great opportunity to educate your audience about your one-on-one, more premium services. Before you get sweaty palms just thinking about having to make a sales pitch, think of it more as an invitation to get more personalized help from you.

You don’t have to make a huge announcement or feel “salesy” in the way you approach the invitation. You can just lightly introduce what it is that you do and how you help clients beyond what workshop participants learned that day. Who knows? Your next client could be sitting in that same room.

Thinking of planning a workshop?

It’s a big responsibility, but one that can pay off for a long time not only for you and your business, but for your customers as well.

If there’s any little part of you that’s interested in hosting one for these types of events, don’t hesitate! You could be just a couple months away from your first workshop.

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Kayla Hollatz

Kayla Hollatz is a copywriter and content creator for creative entrepreneurs who want their words to connect and convert. Few things make her happier than ghostwriting for clients in her studio, aka her four-season porch with a lake view. She can frequently be found fighting Minnesota winters with a mug of hot chocolate in hand.

Experience this issue your way

Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.

  • anchoradesign

    Great article! I actually just started planning an in-person workshop, so I found this at the perfect time!

    • I’m so thrilled to hear that it was a helpful resource for you! What kind of in-person workshop are you going to be hosting? Excited for you!

      • anchoradesign

        Thank you! I’m doing a workshop about website planning for small business owners. If you asked me a year ago, I never would have thought I’d do an in-person workshop, but now it’s the only thing I want to work on. I hope the attendees enjoy it as much as I’m having fun creating it.

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