Monday, August 19, 2013

Creating Workshops: Some Questions

I spent most of the weekend preparing some new workshops and briefings. One might think that the content would be the trickiest part but the format is the greatest challenge. Some standard questions to consider:

  • Who will be in the audience? What types of jobs and experience will be present? 
  • Why is the material important to the audience and do you need to persuade them of its importance or will that be self-evident?
  • Why should these people spend time with you as opposed to another presenter, a book or a coworker? Will they be attending out of a desire to improve or out of a need for protection? Will they be there because someone sent them?
  • Do you present the material in a single workshop or split it up into short sessions? Is that decision dictated by the nature of the material or the preferences of the audience?
  • How much material goes into the workbooks? Too little and they may lack future reference material. Too much and you risk encouraging the audience to read when it should be listening. Another factor: Writing helps people remember.
  • What is the pacing? How fast is this going to move? Where should it move slowly?
  • Case examples are crucial. Which ones do you use? How else should you produce "ah ha" moments?
  • What will the audience want and what will it need? What memorable small points can be inserted?
  • Is the content too rich? Should it be thinned out at any points? [This may sound strange, but if you pack a lot of substance in one area, the audience will experience information overload and shut down.]
  • How formal should this be? My group briefing sessions on presentation skills will be very casual in tone since many of the attendees will be nervous about their own upcoming presentations. The one related to workplace law will be lively but less informal.
  • Will the audio/visual equipment mesh with the subject and the audience size? Is PowerPoint an aid or a barrier in this situation?
  • How will the room look?
  • Okay, so the presentation helps them. How can it help them even more?
  • Is the design right? Is the look attractive and can it assist the information flow? Would you like to thumb through the workbook?

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