Teaching is an art form. Great teachers hold our attention, make us laugh, help us to fully understand complex subject matter and, most of all, inspire us.
Achieving this kind of engagement from your students takes practice and experience. But even if you’re new to teaching, you can make your workshops or training as interesting as possible with just a few fresh ideas. Start with these nine fun workshop ideas:
1. Make it relevant
First and foremost, to earn people’s attention, you need to make sure the content you’re delivering is useful to them. How do you learn exactly what they want out of your course? Ask them.
Conduct some initial research with your target customers to shape your course content, or send a pre-event survey to your attendees so they can pinpoint problems or topics they’d like to hear about.
On the day of your training or workshop, kick off by giving a brief overview of what attendees are going to learn and how those skills will help them achieve their goals.
2. Ditch the traditional presentation
People learn in different ways. Some of us are visual learners who prefer pictures, videos and diagrams, while others respond to spoken and written word, music, logic, or even physical activities.
To create an inclusive learning environment, try to combine traditional linguistic teaching methods with audio and visual presentations, written handouts, interactive tasks, and group work.
For example, you could start off your workshop with a quick PowerPoint, but then move into a clip from a relevant podcast. Later, you could have attendees draw short comics based on what they have learned and ask a few to present their comics to the rest of the group.
3. Change the room layout
Training rooms are always laid out in the same way – rows of tables and chairs. Challenge the convention and surprise your attendees by perhaps providing beanbags instead of chairs, standing podium tables, or tables with just a few chairs to encourage small groups.
Your choice of venue can also have an impact on engagement. A space full of light, color and texture can prove far more inspiring than a bland, windowless meeting room.
4. Use props
Props can make your teaching even more engaging. These could be practical that literally represent your subject matter (think scales, an abacus, or a mannequin) or they could be ridiculous (try a rubber chicken or magic wand). Props liven up your session, and will help people remember what they learned.
Your training or workshop might be serious, but people learn best when they are having fun.
5. Play games
Need to keep your attendees focused? Tap into their competitive sides. Puzzles or riddles, crosswords, memory games, ordering tasks — all are great ways to keep your attendees engaged and on-task. For added drama, impose a time limit.
Try introducing a quick quiz at the end of each content section, helping recap on what’s been learned, and offer a small prize for the winner.
6. Tell a story
Whatever you’re teaching, try to make it relatable to everyday life by using real examples, case studies, and creative metaphors. People will sit still for hours watching a movie — why not steal some cinematic tricks?
Stories, in fact, are central to the way memory works. We search for narrative not just in media, but in everyday life. If you can find a way to integrate the information in your course into an overarching narrative, attendees will be more engaged, and have something to look forward to during breaks.
For inspiration, check out Speechless, and improv comedy show where people give PowerPoint presentations — on slides they have never seen before. Watching people create a narrative from even the most ridiculous content will show you how easy it is to do that same with your real (and actually related) content.
7. Play some tunes
Music can set the mood and get attendees energized before your session and during breaks. Play something upbeat to pump them up, and lower it back down to let them know it’s time to start.
You can also use music during the session – soothing classical pieces help people concentrate while completing tasks or group work.
Bonus idea: Provide some instruments and let people jam between sessions. Not only will it be fun, it will build camaraderie between attendees.
8. Cut it in half
One of the best ways to keep your audience engaged is to not overload them with information. Give them too much, and their brains will simply shuts off.
Either make your session a maximum of two hours or, if it’s taking place over the course of a day, schedule in plenty of short breaks. Give attendees a chance to get up, walk around, and grab a cup of coffee.
Give them time to write and organize notes and assist them by providing pens, pads, sticky notes and highlighters.
9. Provide recognition and reward
Attendees will be more motivated to successfully complete the course if their efforts are recognized — and if they have something to show for it at the end.
Let attendees know they will receive personalized certificates to mark their participation. You should also consider extra incentives such as a competition or small prizes for the best students. Again: tap into those competitive streaks!
Get ready to head a workshop your attendees won’t soon forget
Teaching is as much about entertaining your audience as informing them. Make your training or workshops lively, varied, fun and unexpected and your participants will learn more — and be more likely to come back for more. Ready to create your event? Get started on Eventbrite today.