As I've been working with clients through my Plan of Attack phone calls, one of the questions that I keep adding to my "idea bank" (thanks, Nikki!) is how to run an all day workshop, and be expected to speak in front of your people for 6 - 8 hours.
Sounds exhausting, right?
Like, makes you want to scrap this whole process, right?
Never fear. This is what I tell my clients:
No matter how long your workshop runs, you should only be talking for 10% - 15% of it.
Sound bogus? Let's discuss.
One of the major reasons that people attend workshops in the first place is to get to know you in a more intimate way. They want to hear all your wisdom, learn how to apply it to their own lives, and feel supported along the way.
But the thing is, most people can't listen for more than an hour, tops, and sometimes, twenty to thirty minutes is all your group can handle (introverts and do-ers, I'm looking at you).
So how do you create a live event that's meaningful, informative, and supportive? This is how.
Give Them Projects to Work On
Ooooh, girl if I knew then what I know now about structuring workshops, I'd have made it as an event planning expert a lot faster. This is one of those tips that I wish I'd know.
The basics are simple: people want projects to work on. They want homework. They want to feel, at the end of the day, that they spent their time wisely and got a tangible piece of work out of it.
If you're running a full-day workshop or multi-day retreat all by your lonesome, remember that people want to hear from you, but they also want some dedicated time to work towards their goals.
When structuring your workshop, think about breaking each hour up into mini-lessons. You can talk for 15-20 minutes to introduce the lesson, then let your dreamies take time either on their own or in small groups working on some accompanying project. It could be dream boards, or writing exercises, or a silent meditation, or a worksheet that you create and hand out.
The bonus of giving your attendees space to work on their own projects is that they can connect with others in the room who are going through the same struggles, and bond over their shared experience. This is one way for your attendees to feel supported and also for them to make connections that they crave.
Let them Speak
Women? We love to talk. We love to talk to others, we want others to talk to us, we want to ask questions, and we want to be heard.
So don't be afraid of that. Don't be afraid to schedule 30 minutes of just chatting, informally. Let people ask questions and facilitate a discussion around topics that come up over and over.
One of my favorite "workshop exercises" is a Q+A. Sometimes, they can be extremely friggin' boring, but if you have a small, intimate group and you're all sitting in a circle and everyone feels included, it's the fastest way to get attendees to open up to you and each other.
(I'm even envisioning it right this second. You, 20 of your people, steaming mugs of coffee, sitting in a circle, laughing over shared experiences. Chills, I say!)
If feel-good circles aren't your thing, then you can structure this a different way. Create an icebreaker of a game that allows each person to feel like they're in the spotlight for a short period of time. I like '60-second Life Story' or some other game that gives people a short window where they can share their story, but not feel like they're totally on the spot.
Did you ever wonder why your classes in high school were so short? Because who can stand listen to a professor for a long time without totally zoning out?
Fifteen minutes of bathroom breaks, snack breaks, or just catch up at the free coffee container breaks do miracles not only for you the presenter but for your people. I'd say schedule a break every 1.5 - 2 hours (at least for those of us with tiny bladders!).