By Ida Shessel
Do you lead workshops or seminars – or want to?
Many people who present workshops and seminars have, unfortunately, designed them to look like the following scenario.
Imagine that you’ve just cooked a big pot of spaghetti noodles. Then picture yourself doing something really crazy with it. You pick up the pot and toss all the noodles against the wall – splat! How much do you think will stick to the wall? Probably not much. Most of it will slide down into a messy heap.
Many workshop and seminar leaders throw a bunch of information at their attendees and hope it will stick. But consider this: these days, people are overwhelmed with information – from the internet, TV, books, and so on. They don’t need more information. As harsh as this sounds, if all you do is provide your workshop participants with information, they don’t need you. They can get it elsewhere.
Think back to some of the workshops and seminars you’ve attended as a participant. Chances are you were inundated with information and didn’t know what to do with all the “spaghetti” that was flung at you. Many presenters leave the responsibility for remembering and using the information up to the participants.
“Here it is. Figure out how to apply it to your own situations.”
Most attendees don’t know what to do with all that information. The confused person does nothing – and that means the impact many workshop leaders are trying to make is lost. If they’re hoping to make a difference in the lives of their clients, they’re missing the opportunity.
Let’s go back to the spaghetti scenario for a moment. What if you cook another pot of spaghetti, but this time, you throw one noodle at a time against the wall waiting to see if it sticks before you follow it up with the next one? By the time you get even half way down toward the bottom of the pot, most of the spaghetti will have stuck. I’ll admit that with this technique some of the noodles may never make it out of the pot. Your participants will receive less “spaghetti” from you, but more of what you do give them will stick. They’ll experience less overwhelm and actually learn more.
How do you get your information to stick?
Once you’ve chosen and presented your key need-to-know pieces of information, provide your attendees with ways to process the information. Ask good questions, lead in-depth discussions, and provide exercises that will help your workshop participants understand, remember, and use what you’re teaching them. After all, they’ve come to you for help in solving a problem in their lives. That’s what you need to focus on.
You’ll make a far greater impact and create raving fans that come back to you for more if your participants leave your events impressed with what they can remember and do rather than the overwhelming “I don’t know where to start” feeling.
Ida Shessel is an international expert in the design and delivery of workshops. Go to www.IdaShessel.com for your free quiz “Do You Make These Deadly Workshop Mistakes?”