Forum, Format, and Food: All You Need at Your Workshop
Planning a workshop doesn't have to be complicated. Sure, it can be complicated and the more you cater to the details of your attendees' experiences, the more detailed it can become.
But, at the end of the day, all you need is:
(a place to gather all these wonderful attendees)
(a general guideline of content you're going to teach...plus an idea of when you should allow a bathroom break)
(snacks always double the fun, increase ROI, and keep the raves comin')
Let's talk a little bit about each of these pieces and how much of your total event budget this stuff should take up.
Also known as your venue, this is going to be the one piece of planning your event that sets to tone for everything else. Thus, it should make up a good percentage of your event budget.
I recommend about 50% - 70%, depending on the level of detail you're going to get into when creating your guest experience (for example, if you're going to have unsponsored swag bags or buy fresh floral arrangements to spruce the tables up a bit).
Note that venue should include things like table and chair rental, audio visual equipment (should you require it) WiFi access, and anything else that you require to be included in your space.
The format (also known as your "day-of timeline") is the second most important piece of planning your workshop. Having a detailed schedule that keeps you, the speaker, on track from the moment guests walk in the door to the moment they leave is vital to a well-planned workshop and critical to a good guest experience.
That said, it doesn't mean you have to jam information into your day. Instead, think about how long people can sit and listen to you teach, how often they may need a break, how to incorporate movement or structured breaks into your workshop, and most importantly, how you can encourage conversation and open dialogue between your attendees.
My rule of thumb is this: if you're going to ask people to attend a workshop for more than two hours, it's a very nice gesture to offer them something to snack on. Imagine if you were inviting ten people to your house for an informal get together. You'd probably have some wine, maybe some cheese and crackers, and some baked goods, right?
Plan your event the same way and you'll have attendees raving about your hospitality to their friends. Because while your content might be amazing, having those little extra surprises that really make attendees feel taken care of are totally worth the extra splurge.
photo // maurizio peddis