Conducting a successful seminar workshop requires a great deal of preparation and confidence. It's important to follow a step-by-step blueprint to successfully conduct workshops, from the preparation stage to the final evaluation.
Research your subject thoroughly.
Decide who your audience will be and why they are attending so you can tailor the content to their needs.
Choose a venue well in advance and start marketing as early as possible if you are running an independent event . Alternatively, contact organizations to offer your seminar workshop at their premises for a fee or as a free marketing tool for your services.
Formulate three or four (no more than six, depending on time available) key learning objectives. Use them as section headings for the main body of content. Include facts, discussions and interactive exercises in your content. Set realistic times for each section.
Plan the workshop structure, including how much time will be alloted. Build in enough time for introductions, activities and questions in addition to each learning section.
Use interesting, unusual and amusing visual aids to help participants understand and retain information. Limit visual aids to an average of about one every 15 minutes. Other sensory aids might be appropriate, depending on your topic. However, one well chosen aid is better than sensory overload. If you are giving a demonstration, be sure to allot more time for preparation and equipment.
Ask frequent questions to promote discussion among participants, maintain attention and take pressure off yourself. Make the information interesting by using examples, stories and metaphors.
Prepare cue cards or notes with bullet points to remind yourself of the content during your delivery and keep it flowing.
Practice in advance of the seminar. Ask a friend or colleague to participate in practice sessions and provide constructive feedback. Memorize your introduction to increase your confidence as you get started. Adjust the time and content as required.
Prepare back-up plans in case anything goes wrong, such as equipment malfunction.
Arrive at the venue early to make sure everything is set up correctly. Combat any pre-presentation nerves with deep breathing or other relaxation exercises. Keep a glass of water to hand.
Welcome participants on arrival. For smaller, informal groups, begin with individual introductions. Follow with an outline of the day and the key learning objectives. Explain “housekeeping” points such as fire exits, facilities, break times and etiquette. If desired, lead an icebreaker activity to help everyone relax.
Maintain clear speech, steady pace and good eye contact throughout. Use appropriate humor to keep the atmosphere enjoyable and informal while also disguising any mistakes. Control your time schedule but also allow some flexibility.
End with a question and answer session for a specific length of time. If there are more questions than time allows, offer to respond later by e-mail.
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