If you have a passion for effective writing concepts, consider turning them into workshops you can share with others.
Here are tips to help you prepare a successful workshop.
6 Tips for Preparing a Writers Workshop
1. Start presenting at small venues and move up to conferences.
I started giving workshops at my local writers group. After each presentation, I honed the workshop and slides from what I learned. I moved on to workshops at libraries and then to one-day writers conferences. For a large writers’ organization, I’m leading a month-long online workshop.
To develop a workshop’s content, try writing blog posts on the topics you want to cover.
2. Restrict the number of topics covered to what easily fits the presentation’s time limit.
Err on the side of finishing early. Build in time for questions, exercises, and unplanned tidbits.
I have a workshop that offers fun techniques to improve scenes. The first time I gave the presentation I ran out of time, partly because I thought I had ten minutes more than I actually had. In preparing for a second workshop on this material, I realized five techniques were too many. One was more complicated and less fun than the others. I cut that technique. The improvement supported the saying, “kill your darlings.”
3. Include examples and stories.
Many participants need applications to understand principles. They enjoy hearing stories that support ideas. Stories are a welcome break from stretches of listenig to information.
During lunch for one engagement, I told the woman beside me I’d appreciate feedback on the maiden launch of my presentation. She said, “Don’t cut any of your stories.”
4. Prepare slides that don’t overwhelm participants.
Limit word count on a slide to 40 words. Break up a 120-word slide into three. To send participants a cohesive document later, turn the slides into a document that puts dot points on one topic together.
For detailed teachings, include examples.
Provide simple tables, graphs, or screenshots to show a process’s steps.
To break up the monotony of words, choose photos that complement your points. Make sure your photos belong to you or come from sites that give permission to use them. I use free images on Pixabay.
Slides should have plenty of “white” space. Make backgrounds a light neutral color. It’s easier on participants’ eyes than stark white.
5. Offer documents participants can review at home.
Convert slides to a PDF or Word document to email later to those participants who request them. During the class, supply a one- to two-page handout to jot notes on.
I recently attended a writers conference. Packed into seventy-five minutes, each workshop offered rivers of information, principles, tips, and examples. I tensed trying to listen, process, and take decent notes. When the presenters promised to send the slides or handouts to us, I relaxed, listened intently, and jotted a few supporting notes.
6. Besides practicing, time your presentation.
I time talks at least twice to learn how much time they use. After I start my stopwatch, I speak calmly and slowly. If there’s not sufficient time for speaking, questions, exercises, and extra tidbits, I tighten my presentation. Knowing I have plenty of time for my talk is huge in how calm I am during the workshop.
Part 2 – tips for leading a writers workshop – preparation. Click to tweet.
What questions or workshop preparation stories do you have?
Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, her heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high school Valentine’s Day date. He may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong.
Thanks for all the great ideas, Zoe. I am giving a presentation tomorrow and have practiced it once a day for the past month. Interestingly enough, it’s a presentation I have already given before. I believe in the power of practicing!
Sherri, you put me to shame. I usually practice workshops I’ve done before about three to four times during the days just before the day of the workshop. I do a lot more practices on ones I’ve not done before or large presentations.
I appreciate Handouts, outlines, a copy the examples– anything to help me take notes. Handed out ahead of the workshop.
Me too, Marcia.