Online Workshops serve as a medium to deliver industry insights and communicate with the community. With the increasing community-building exercise, online workshops have become the most interactive channel. Individual creators are hosting workshop-specific content due to increasing demand, thanks to the accessibility of technology and the internet.
Hosting a workshop requires some effort and planning if you want to make an impact. Let’s take you through some tips and tricks to host an online workshop.
Tips for Facilitating Online Workshops:
A workshop cannot be interesting if the participants do not connect with a host. Workshops, where hosts are not visible, do not encourage engagement. If you are a creator and looking to build your community, your appearance should become familiar to the people in your industry. Keeping the camera on during every content delivery will help in achieving that.
Dress in Casuals rather than Formals
Yes, this is the opposite of what we usually hear. I am suggesting you go for casuals so that it doesn’t appear like another office meeting. Even students do not want to go back to their online classes. Rather than a teacher, you should seem like a fun creator who shares his/their experience with the audience.
The intent is to make people get out of their zones and onboard the session with a refreshing approach. Changing a bit of your appearance could do wonders in that space.
Say No to Presentations
We want to go away with the usuals that people always see on their computer screens. Presentation is one such tool that makes people feel bored without even looking at the content. So, what can we do? Use a whiteboard along with the markers to write down.
If you cannot do away with the presentation due to content requirements, do not host the complete workshop using it. Toggling between the whiteboard and a deck could help you make the workshop experience lively.
Double Check Equipment and other tools
During virtual communication, only the technology keeps you in touch with the audience. Individual creators should always test their equipment and platform before the start of the workshop. These are some of the crucial checkpoints:
- Test the audio output.
- Check for the microphone if it is working.
- Use your webcam and record a small video.
- Run the platform before the workshop to resolve if there are any issues.
Once you feel comfortable with this, you can start to concentrate on the content delivery part.
Help Participants with the Platform
It is not certain that every participant will be aware of the web platform’s functionalities. It is the responsibility of the host/facilitator to make them feel comfortable using the platform. To get going, show them by performing small activities, like:
- Mute and unmute the microphone
- Feature to turn the camera on and off
- Change background
- Raise hand
- How to join back in case of a call drop
Do not invest more than 5 minutes in this activity as there will be many who are already aware of the functionalities.
Set Expectations and Ground Rules
Everyone joining the workshop will be aware of the topic, but I would suggest a subtle ground building. Ground building starts with an overview of the subject and something about yourself.
You should include the following aspects:
- Procedure to ask questions without disturbing the flow of the workshop
- Why you chose the topic
- Content overview
- Learning outcomes
- About the discussion panel (if available)
- Post-workshop activities (if any)
This activity should also get completed within 5 minutes so that you can jump on to the actual content.
Break the Ice
You get an opportunity to mark your territory and make people interested at the start of the workshop. It will not happen without connecting with the participants or establishing the expertise. To connect, you can start with a real-life story related to the topic. This will help them relate and understand the importance of the whole exercise.
You can also talk about your experience and how it is going to help every attendee.
Always add Context to Content
While delivering the content, it is crucial to point out the applications of the subject. If you are working on software and giving insights about a specific functionality, you should also tell them how to in the real world. There will be applications/tools perfected using that functionality, and the same should get communicated to everyone. A statement without the support of industrial applications never adds the required value.
Interact with Every Single Participant
The essence of the workshop lies in communication, which should be from both ends. Even if you are a good communicator and your audience is not participating, you will lose the whole point of hosting a workshop.
People do not ask questions or participate if they are not asked to do so. You need to reach out to them and motivate them to talk more. An interactive workshop will also help you build a community of loyal fans who understand your expertise.
Storytelling is well appreciated and enjoyed by people of all ages and groups. You can leverage it during the workshops as well. While talking about the complex subject, the host can assign characters to the topics and communicate by connecting with the problem.
I also advise you to share the stories of people who have done well in the industry. Success stories are motivating and help in building interest.
Assign Group Tasks
We have already talked about the communication between you and your audience. Now, the audience also needs to communicate within themselves to build the ever-growing bond between the participants.
If you are hosting a workshop related to some software, ask members to collaborate and build a project after completion. You should announce some rewards for this exercise as well. Activities like these will also make way for your community-building as more and more people will stay connected.
You can either be a fun host or a dull host. Always chose to be the fun facilitator. People try to connect with the ones who are lively and always keep a smile on their faces. I am not asking you to crack jokes continuously, but some occasional giggles help to lift the mood.
You get more points if you can connect your humor with the topic of the day. Along with the expertise, people know the creators for their personalities. Workshops allow you to display that personality as a part of a community-building exercise.
Keep it Short
The best host is the one who completes his/her workshop before the stipulated time. First-time creators tend to extend the workshop due to a lack of planning. Finishing on time is only possible when you work on it before the start of the workshop.
Here’s how to do that:
- Write down the complete script of your workshop
- Assign estimated time to each part.
- Now, start practicing like the real workshop
- Map the assigned time with the actual time for each part of the workshop.
- Now, adjust the content so that you don’t exceed the time limit
This exercise will require several iterations but will help improve your content delivery.
When people invest their time and money, they expect something in return. Yes, they will take away the knowledge you provide but retaining the whole session is difficult. If you provide them with the notes, they will always look back and appreciate the efforts you put in.
Notes also work as an incentive for the participants to join the future workshops and become a part of your community.
At the end of the online workshop, you can facilitate the panel discussion. If the panel is not available, try taking the questions and discuss with the participants. To bring in more people, you can ask every individual to pitch in and share his/her understanding of the subject.
The discussion will help solve most of the queries and you will come out as an individual who is looking to help every single participant.