A workshop is basically a meeting where people discuss or demonstrate how to do a job or perform an activity so that people can learn.
Workshops are vital to companies and businesses because it allows employees to learn new skills not only to become better at their jobs but for self-improvement too. In some cases, workshops are conducted outside the office with employees of other businesses or they can conduct the workshop in-house.
Depending on the workshop, it can be a series which can take several days to complete. There are single-day workshops too.
Workshops have a big impact on the company because it provides a venue for employees to learn a new concept, investigate it and then encourage them to apply this new learning in their daily working life. Workshops are also a great tool for improving teamwork. When employees attend workshops together they create a community and a sense of purpose.
Workshops are very different from conferences or meetings. These types of gathering are usually facilitated for brainstorming or sharing of information. Workshops are different because they are designed specifically for introducing new skills to participants.
Here’s what you need to know about workshops:
- They are generally small. Usually less than 20 participants. Smaller groups tend to learn concepts better since they can be monitored by the workshop facilitator.
- Workshops are designed for people who work together or are in the same field.
- They are conducted by people who have real-life experience with the subject matter.
- Workshops are usually participatory and active. Participants have an impact on the workshops direction. They also have a chance to practice the skills and techniques learned under the direction of the facilitator.
- They are informal with a good deal of discussion.
- Workshops are usually designed to be self-contained and to stand on their own. However, further reading and other handouts might be presented as resources to the participants.
Reasons To Conduct A Workshop
There are many different learning methods for employees. They can join study groups, circles, trainings and seminars. So why would you conduct a workshop and not these other learning tools?
- Workshops are best if you want to conduct an intensive learning experience in a short amount of time. It is designed to introduce a new concept when time for a comprehensive study is not enough. The participants might not also have a lot of time to commit to training, making workshops a better alternative.
- It’s a great tool to teach hands-on skills because it is designed to teach participants in a fail-safe environment. This type of environment is great for practice and they also have access to the trainer’s and other participant’s feedback. This will help them avoid failure in real-life situations.
- It is a great platform for co-workers to pass skills and techniques they have learned to others that can make their jobs more efficient.
- Workshops strengthen teams.
Now that we know why workshops are important to businesses, here are some impactful workshop ideas that you can consider for your next session.
12 Impactful Workshop Ideas
Provide Networking Opportunities
One of the best ways to make workshops more impactful is to provide participants the opportunity to network. As a species, humans are a sociable bunch. We like being in groups and interacting with them. Workshops should not only be a learning experience, participants should also be given the chance to network and socialize with each other.
While some workshops are designed for co-workers, there are some that are conducted outside the workplace with other people and a 3rd party facilitator. Letting employees attend this kind of workshop gives them the opportunity to meet and learn from other people in the same field.
Networking can lead to opportunities like collaborations which can be beneficial to both businesses.
Literally Teaching To Fish
To paraphrase the saying: “it is better to teach a man how to fish rather than to give him fish”. This means that it is better to teach a methodology behind a technique compared to just the task itself. Framework is very important because it allows people to apply the basic principles of what they’ve learned to their daily lives.
For example, it is normal in workshops to demonstrate a technique in doing something. Rather than just letting attendees see how it is done, facilitators should also provide them the methodology (systematic analysis of each step) followed by hands-on training. This gives participants a better grasp of the technique which they can use not only in the task itself but also find application in other work or parts of their life.
Adding Workshops To Conferences
If you’re hosting a conference, try adding a workshop during the event. Workshops are a great opportunity for co-workers to socialize and network while they learn something new. You can set-up a short workshop centers in the conference venue that attendees can visit during breaks.
For example, if you’re having a conference in a hotel with other employees from different branches, you can also host a workshop within where they can learn new skills that is connected to the conference. This is a good idea if you want to vary some of the experiences of the attendees while presenting them with some time to learn something valuable.
There are times when workshops become boring and attendees will strive to keep focused. Before this happens, take a break and play games. This gives participants to change gear and wake-up.
The games don’t need to be physical in order to tap into attendee’s competitive sides. You can play puzzles, solve riddles or do memory-games. To add some drama, enforce a time-limit.
Playing short games at the end of each session can keep attendees focused, relaxed and happy. This will help them with retention and keep their workshop experience positive.
Tell a Story
Storytelling is perhaps one of mankind’s oldest traditions and its purpose is to instruct. Stories can teach us how to love, forgive or just be better than we are now.
This is why storytelling can have a big impact on workshops. It’s a good tool to make whatever you’re teaching more relatable to everyday life. If people can sit for hours watching a movie, they can spare minutes to listen to your story.
Stories can also influence how our memories work. We like narrative and search for it in our daily lives. If you can find ways to include a story on the information you’re about to impart, attendees will become more engaged and will have an easier time retaining what they’ve learned.
No To Overload
Most workshops are designed to be short courses that impart skills. However, not all workshops can be short and there will be times that a session can run long. In times like these information overload can be a problem. Attention span of humans is naturally short so having them sit and absorb something for a long time can be lead to poor retention.
This is why it is important to keep sessions short by breaking up workshops into sessions interspersed with breaks. This will give time for attendees to absorb what they’ve learned so far, grab some coffee, walk around and maybe talk about the subject among themselves for a while.
Provide Unique Resources
One of the most important tools for business regardless of size and industry is real-time actual data and case studies. They can be hard to obtain and using this data plus analysis on a topic for a workshop can provide attendees with unique experience and resources.
This data has a big impact on attendees because this is real information that their company uses and could give their business a competitive edge. Unique resources can make workshops feel more personalized and exclusive.
Experience New Technology
Giving workshop attendees a chance to explore new technology that hasn’t been launched can be an enriching experience. Using new gadgets, software and other tech for the first time is fun and giving them a firsthand experience will make the workshop more interesting. It can also show them how this new technology can be integrated to their work or their business practice.
New tech is a great way to keep the attendees excited and focused. People generally have a great sense of wonder and exploring something new is a great way to keep attention focused and improve their information retention rate.
Quirky Is Key
Workshops just like meetings have a traditional format. However, this does not mean to say that you have to stick with tradition all the time. In fact, tradition can become boring quickly so go don’t be afraid to go quirky from time to time.
One of the best ways to do this is to vary your workshop venue. For example, instead of hosting it in the conference room, you can go outside the office and look for a comedy club, library, brewery or theater. There is no limit when it comes to your creativity.
Get your speakers on the quirky side too. Ask them to open with a funny anecdote or a strange fact about your topic or industry. Always remember that you want to pique and keep your audience’s attention and wacky is a good way to go.
As we stated above, there’s no need to stick with tradition all the time so get your workshops digital. This is an especially good idea if you’re attendees are scattered across the country (or world). Taking your workshops online provides attendees with more flexible options in terms of when they want to “attend” or where to do it.
Perhaps some of them prefer to access the workshop at home. Maybe others like to go online after office hours or first thing in the morning. What is important here is giving them the option when and where they want to access the workshop.
Provide Recognition & Reward
Ever wonder why certificates are given at the end of seminars, workshops or conferences? This is not only to recognize your effort, attendance and participation but also to motivate attendees to complete a course.
Aside from personalized certificates, you can also award small prizes or incentives to participants who did really well during the workshop. Small competition for prizes and recognition can awaken their competitive spirit and make the session more engaging while keeping attendees focused.
Make It Relevant
Since workshops are learning experiences, make sure to make the topic relevant to the industry or their specific work. You want to earn their attention so if the subject matter does not concern the participant, they will find the workshop a waste of time.
Before inviting attendees to a workshop ask yourself if the person can benefit from the skill, technique or experience. Can they use it at work? Will it make them better employees?
When it comes to workshops always remember to pick a cool theme or to use cutting edge tools to boost engagement and retention. Workshops should also provide high-value experience for attendees so that they feel that the knowledge was valuable. Fostering of relationships between participants can have beneficial effects on both attendees and businesses.
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