Delivering a great workshop is dependent on many things, but mostly YOU. You ultimately have a major impact on how effective the workshop is and the learning that your participants will take from it.
I see tonnes of potential when working with delegates who are undergoing a Train the Trainer or a L&D qualification. They have great ideas and piles of enthusiasm, however one area that typically pops its ugly head up is confidence.
When I try to explore what confidence is, either when delivering such training workshops or during coaching sessions, people describe it as nervousness, the feeling of being judged and the worry and pressure of being in front of others.
So here’s the bad news first – that feeling, to an extent, will stay. The good news though is that it won’t last as long, you can manage it and it can actually be helpful to get you focused and on track. Personally, I would never have thought that a big chunk of my job would be speaking in front of people. I wouldn’t consider myself an extrovert and I hated public speaking when I was younger. So what has changed?
My attitude towards public speaking mainly. I acknowledge my nerves and the situation and then I can handle it better. That’s always your starting point – never hide it! That said there’s a few top tips that I always use to help my confidence in delivering a workshop and speaking in public. I am hoping that by sharing them with you they can also support your development.
So here we go:
1. Prepare – everyone says this but I do really mean it! You need to prepare, in all sorts of ways. Prepare the directions to the venue. Go to it the night before if you can. Speak or meet with the key contacts. Make sure that you have mentally and physically rehearsed your session. Prepare your clothes (I always choose smart/casual if the client allows that!) Think of what makes you feel comfortable and make sure that you do it.
2. Ditch your notes – no, I am not going crazy but ditch them. Truly ditch them. Nobody wants to listen to someone who is reading their notes. I find sessions like that so boring so why would I want someone else to suffer! What I do is that I distill the main learning points for the session in 5-7 key points. These are my mental triggers of what needs to be covered. They’re my assessment and monitoring of the content that I need to work with supporting my learners. That’s all. All the other notes should stay in your file.
3. Collaborate – if you are prepared and you ditch your notes you can be there with your participants. You can properly listen to them, ask them challenging questions, facilitate their experiential learning. You are focusing on them and you are learning with them. It’s a collaborative activity, particularly if you are delivering workshops. This makes it a much more enjoyable experience. Think of your learners as people – be curious about them, their jobs and what they want to learn.
4. Admit your lack of knowledge – again, I’m not going crazy. So, for example, if you are delivering a session on coaching skills and you state that you are not a coach – well, perhaps you shouldn’t be there in the first place! But you can be a subject matter expert and you still won’t know all the ins and outs of a topic. Which is more than fine! Most learners will understand that – they’ll value your honesty. What do I do when I don’t know something? I get my friend Google to find the answer in front of them or ask them to search for it. (On a separate note I always allow participants to keep their phones on – ask me about why I do this if you like!)
5. Reflect back – For me this is key. It won’t work for everyone but after every single session I take a step back and just list down 3 things I did well and 3 things I would do differently. I keep them in my notes and then move on to the next challenge!
What are your top tips for delivering an effective workshop?