Difference between revisions of "Presenting a workshop"

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Revision as of 06:08, 1 August 2008

Generic Workshop Setup

Ahead of time

  • What is Your Goal? What is the Goal of the Attendee? Do they align?

(Goals are measurable--and binary!)

  • Pick a Date and Time and Place
  • Publicize your event
    • craigslist, local newspapers, press release,radio, tv, websites, email
  • Get registration information from attendees
  • Preparation:
    • make sure that your presentation is rehearsed and timed.
    • find out a bit more about your audience by networking/socializing before the presentation. Review the registration data, and make note of items that will help you relate to the audience.
  • Homework...make sure the audience has a taste of what to expect before the presentation. One idea is to assign a bit of homework before the event (such as creating an account on a wiki) that you can save time and that you can acknowledge them for when the event starts. You also want the audience to come prepared with tools if you do not supply them: pens, note paper, laptops, water bottles, etc.
  • Record the event: have someone that can record the event (audio + video). Let the audience know ahead of time, and pass out disclaimers/waivers as appropriate. For example, if a person does not want to be recorded, make sure there is a safe spot for them to sit that will not be captured.

The Venue

  • Insure they have internet connection. If they have wireless with a wep key, make sure that people have that info BEFORE you start. Don't waste time troubleshooting when you and the attendees should be learning.
  • Insure they have enough space
    • You will want to have n-1 chairs. You want it to be cozy, but not crowded. If you have too many empty chairs, that makes a bad impression. Better to bring in chairs than have empty ones
  • Handouts- if you have handouts or other activities, make sure they are in place before the event begins. Passing things around during the event is disruptive and will make you loose the contact with your audience.


  • People should check in, you should already have a list of attendees. A proper registration process will capture important data about your attendees' wants and needs as it relates to your presentation.

The Introduction

  • Earn The Right: These people are taking time out of their day to hear what we have to say. We need to redeem their time (and ours).
  • Be introduced. Have somebody introduce the main speaker. This could be the event sponsor, a co-worker, or someone who is affiliated with your audience already, to make your audience feel more at ease. The introduction should be written out ahead of time and given to the person who will introduce you. It should be a sentence or two about who the main speaker is, and why he/she is qualified to present/facilitate.
  • Once you are introduced, make a small introduction about yourself, and your credentials. You want to establish that you are a professional and an authority, but don't brag or go on and on. Better yet, weave this information into your presentation. People are here to learn, not to stroke your ego. You are here for them, not the other way around.
  • Give the people a good reason to listen and pay attention to you. Proper attire and mannerisms will cinch this for you.
  • Don't chew gum.

Get to Know your Audience

  • First and Foremost, thank the attendees for coming. Make it sincere, not trite. Single out a few people that you recognize, and let them know you are glad they are there. Do not generically "Thank The Audience". Again, you are there for them, not they for you. You can thank the person that introduced you, you can thank the event sponsor, etc. But this is all boring to your real audience. Be there for them!
  • Involve the Audience. Ask them why they came and what they are hoping to accomplish.
  • Write down what the audience says, either on a white board where they can all see that you are listening, or on a sheet of paper that you can refer to later. I like to use a mindmap tool, and organize the thoughts right at the beginning with audience.
  • Surprise them with a joke, a video, or something to engage them.
  • Tell them what you are going to tell them. Remember the formula for a good speech: Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them.

How to Give a Great Presentation

  • Beware of Death By Powerpoint. Some things are best left just as a simple speech instead of a slideshow.
  • Engage all their emotions: Fear, Anger, Joy.
  • Tell a story, make a point. Tell a story, make a point. Rinse, Lather, Repeat.
  • Keep the presentation focused. If one particularly animated soul likes the sound of his own voice, or brings up a side point, be sure to address that individual or point, and let them know that it is outside of the scope of this presentation, and you would be glad to talk to them about it later....
  • Make eye contact with individuals
  • Engage the audience. The best way to do this is to ask questions, ask for a show of hands, "have you ever..." type statements that help the audience relate to you and your topic. Make this a conversation, not an "I/Thou" bore-fest. Tell appropriate jokes (self effacing humor goes a long way here!) but keep away from sex, politics, and religion.
  • Repsect time limits. You should stop on time. Avoid tangents. Your practiced ahead of time, and know how long this will take, right? You accounted for interaction, and can use that to your advantage to adjust your length.


One of the best ways to engage your audience and to help them learn is to give them an appropriate activity. You should at minimum have one activity planned to give you audience hands-on experience with a key point (or points) that you are trying to make. Make sure that your audience is clear on what they need to do, and the time limit to do the activity in. Wander among the groups of people and evesdrop on, and be available for questions or directions. Give them warning a minute or so before they need to wrap up.

Wrapping Up

  • Tell them what you told them.
  • Give a brief review of lessons learned. Remind them about supplemental material (website, podcasts, video, books) that they can purchase or get for free.
  • Let them know the formal part of the presentation is over. Tell the audience that you can take questions now, or turn it back over to the sponsor/person who introduced you, who may have important things to say. Have a few plants to clap for you....

Give Something of Value

By giving something of value away, you engage the human emotion of reciprocity. It is a good idea to give something of value away which will benefit the person. You do not need to necessarily expect anything in return in a selfish way. An example is to give away a book. It may cost $20.00 to do so, but the return if you give first should be great.

An example for the wiki workshops is to give away a simple card like this:

File:Wx wiki cheatsheet.jpg
4x6 handout of wiki cheatsheet

It is worth more than a business card, which will probably just be thrown away. It provides some usefulness, and allows the possessor to contact you for more information in context. Insurance agents and realtors are notorious for similar tactics with Magenetic Business Cards and Calendars. This hopefully is more useful.

Create Scarcity

Another human emotion to engage is scarcity. Humans don't want to be left out of a good thing. This type of behavior is what contributes to inflation. It can be used in a positive way. need to develop this more


Things that are measured improve; Get anonymous feedback from your audience on the:

  • Venue
  • Course Content
  • Course Activity(ies)
  • Speaker(s)
  • Refreshments (if provided/catered)

If anything is lacking, be sure to improve that for the next presentation.


Be sure to follow up with each workshop participant. Remind them again about supplemental material (website, podcasts, video, books) that they can purchase or get for free. Find out what the participants want for/from future presentations.

Lessons Learned

Following are suggestions from attendees that filled out the Workshop Evaluation Form for the wiki workshop held in Fort Collins on 7-29-08. 9 people showed up,5 female 4 male, mixed background, in a room that could hold 12 comfortably. Wireless was provided, and laptops were recommended. The time frame was 90 minutes, with 1 hour for the presentation, and 30 minutes for hands-on.

  • wanted more time to practice the real stuff/get more confidence with the material
  • more people = more interruptions
  • have someone besides presenter handle the technology (wireless issues on vista!)
  • learned a lot, but not sure how to apply it to the future (application!)
  • content for the presentation was well paced.
  • mix of levels was confusing to some--basic and "geek". their advice: wiki for dummies and wiki for "techies"