Have an idea? You can turn it into a workshop. Want to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses? Turn it into a workshop. Have a passion for teaching pottery? There’s a workshop for that, too! However, you can’t transform your idea into a reality without preparation, so read on to learn how to create a workshop plan.
What is a workshop?
Compared to a conference, a workshop is usually a shorter event that involves a limited number of attendees and is focused on a specific topic. They’re usually less formal than a conference but will adhere to a structure that aims to educate and actively involve attendees.
As opposed to a seminar, workshop events revolve around instruction instead of discussion. The subject matter can be professional, personal, or creative. All workshops have the following elements in common:
- They’re intimate and interactive — no one can hide in the back like they might in a lecture
- They set the stage for learning, growth, and relationship building
- When done right, they spark engaging experiences and forward momentum for individuals, companies, and communities
How do you plan a workshop?
Bringing your idea to life may seem like a daunting task — after all, there are many steps involved in planning a workshop. However, the process is much simpler when you break it down.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to make planning easier:
- Define your goal: What do you want the workshop to achieve? Establish SMART goals.
- Identify your audience: Determine who your workshop will be for — think about their needs and expectations.
- Set a budget: Make a list of expenses for your workshop, such as advertising, facilitators, materials, and the venue. From there, you can begin making cost estimates.
- Choose a venue: Select a location that is convenient for guests, and that has the necessary accommodations and equipment.
- Determine your format: Will your workshop be an interactive session, roundtable, or demonstration?
- Craft the agenda: Create a schedule of activities and discussions (we’ll get more into crafting the perfect agenda later).
- Choose the facilitators: Identify experts who can help lead the workshop.
- Advertise the workshop: Promote your event through email, social media, print materials, and/or press releases.
- Follow up: Reflect on the success of your event. Get feedback from attendees and assess other key metrics.
Running a workshop: key points to remember
When planning and running a workshop, it’s easy to focus on the big picture. However, the details are what help to create a seamless event. Below are some of the basic grounds to cover when planning.
How do you lead a workshop?
Welcome people by introducing yourself and outlining how the next few hours will be spent. Then immediately get your attendees involved by asking them to take turns introducing themselves. Ask what they want to get out of the event and whether there are any specific areas they want to focus on. Of course, you will have an agenda for the event, but it can pay to be reactive and respond positively to attendees.
How do you structure a workshop?
A successful workshop starts with a clear agenda. Here are tips to help you create a tight workshop schedule:
- Be realistic about how much material you will be able to cover and factor in time for breaks and a Q&A segment towards the end.
- Intermix instructive segments with interactive and hands-on elements.
- Encourage attendees to talk to each other and allocate time for demonstrations and practical exercises.
- At the end of your workshop, be sure to provide a list of useful resources and actionable tips that attendees can refer to in the future.
How long should a workshop last?
The length of a workshop depends on several factors, including the content and format. Below are a few examples to help you perfectly time your workshop:
- Half-day workshops last 3-4 hours and are best suited for introductory or overview workshops.
- Full-day workshops last 6-8 hours and are appropriate for training or in-depth sessions.
- Multi-day workshops take place over several days and are suitable for extended training or intensive workshops.
No matter how long your workshop is, it’s always a good idea to gauge your audience’s reception with a post-event survey.
How to make a workshop interactive
One of the best ways to brainstorm inventive workshop plans is simple: ask people what they’d like to do. Reach out to them to find out what they’re interested in and what they haven’t seen before.
Consider having your followers vote via an Instagram poll. If you have a mailing list, take advantage of tools like SurveyMonkey to send out an email questionnaire.
Knowing what participants want and giving it to them ensures they stay engaged during your event.
After you’ve figured out what you want to offer, it’s time to nail the logistics.
Set the mood
A “must-have” list of venue requirements will help you settle on and set up the right space. When you’re vetting venues, consider whether your workshop requires elements like:
- AV support
- ADA-compliant restrooms
- Access to a kitchen
- Space for physical exercises
If you’re creating a workshop as part of a greater event and don’t have control over the venue, use the elements you do have at your disposal to set an effective mood. These tools might include lighting, music, or even the snacks you provide.
Turn audience members into participants
Getting your audience involved is the key to hosting a successful workshop. But how can you ensure that everyone is comfortable? Get people warmed up with a few icebreaker activities. You can also make your workshop even more intimate by breaking participants into pairs or small groups. To encourage total participation from shy attendees, consider using high-tech wristbands that allow guests to answer questions and respond to polls.
Incorporate creativity into your workshop plan
There are many different approaches to creativity. You might integrate exercises like drawing, painting, singing, music playing, or improv to loosen people up.
Storytelling events are incredibly popular as well; consider having attendees share their stories to make your workshop more intimate and impactful. Help people to feel comfortable by creating a safe and inclusive space. And, foster a culture of openness by having facilitators share their personal experiences.
Your workshop event plan checklist
Follow this checklist for hosting a workshop to minimize potential roadblocks and ensure everything goes off without a hitch.
- Clearly define the objectives and goals of the workshop
Identify target audience
- Determine the demographics and characteristics of the target audience
Choose a venue and date
- Research and select the right venue for the workshop
- Choose a date that works for both attendees and facilitators
Create an agenda and schedule
- Outline the topics and activities for each session
- Determine the length of each session
- Schedule breaks and networking opportunities
- Create the content for each session
- Identify the facilitators and speakers for each session
Prepare materials and handouts
- Create materials and handouts for attendees
- Ensure that all materials are accessible and inclusive
Set up registration and ticketing
- Determine how attendees can register and purchase tickets
- Create a registration form or link
Prepare the venue and equipment
- Ensure that the venue is ready for the workshop
- Coordinate rental of any necessary equipment
Market and promote the workshop
- Develop a marketing and promotion strategy
- Utilize social media, email marketing, and partnerships
Evaluate and follow-up
- Gather feedback from attendees
- Analyze the workshop’s success and impact
- Plan and implement follow-up actions
- Utilize this evaluation to improve future workshops
- Check attendance records and prepare certificates if needed
Workshop plan example
When you’re done ironing out the details, your plan should look something like this.
- To educate attendees on [topic]
- To provide attendees with [specific skills or knowledge]
- To facilitate networking and collaboration among attendees
- [Target audience demographics and characteristics]
Venue and Date:
- Venue: [Name and address of venue]
- Date: [Date and time of workshop]
Agenda and Schedule:
- [Time] – Welcome and Introduction
- [Time] – Session 1: [Topic and speaker/facilitator]
- [Time] – Break
- [Time] – Session 2: [Topic and speaker/facilitator]
- [Time] – Lunch/Networking
- [Time] – Session 3: [Topic and speaker/facilitator]
- [Time] – Break
- [Time] – Session 4: [Topic and speaker/facilitator]
- [Time] – Conclusion and Next Steps
- [Outline of main topics and learning objectives for each session]
Facilitators and Speakers:
- [Name and bio of facilitators and speakers]
Materials and Handouts:
- [List of materials and handouts to be provided to attendees]
Registration and Ticketing:
- [Information on how to register and purchase tickets for the workshop]
Marketing and Promotion:
- [Outline of marketing and promotion strategy, including social media, email marketing, and partnerships]
Evaluation and Follow-up:
- [Information on how feedback will be gathered and analyzed, and how the workshop’s success will be measured]
Spark inspiration with an interactive workshop
Turning your workshop idea into a reality takes hard work. From choosing venues to appointing facilitators, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of responsibilities — but sticking to our workshop planning checklist will help you to stay afloat. Get started planning your workshop event.