Tips & Tricks: Workshops

Tips & Tricks For Hosting a Workshop

If you have a skill you’d like to share with a large group, then a workshop is for you. Whether you’re a natural teacher or someone who struggles with giving instruction, you can absolutely successfully host a workshop. All you need is your knowledge, and some tips and tricks, which we’re happy to offer below.

Keep it simple.

Scott Pilgrim from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World asking, "Why does everything have to be so complicated?"

If you had an infinite amount of time to teach someone something, you could really go into depth on the subject without worrying about the clock. But when you’re hosting a workshop at a convention, that’s not the case. So boil it down to the basics, and focus on going over those as thoroughly as possible.

Assume your attendees know nothing.

Ygritte from Game of Thrones saying, "You know nothing, Jon Snow."

That sounds mean, but it can keep you from confusing people who are truly beginners. Sometimes we cut corners when showing someone how to do something, because we think they already know background information that they may not already know. And not everyone who attends your workshop will be brave enough to stop you and ask for clarification. Make sure everyone knows what you’re talking about before moving on. And if you can establish the baseline with your group before getting started, even better!

Show, don’t tell.

Practical demonstrations can help visual learners pick up on the skill you’re imparting quicker than just talking them through it. Get mobile, too; go around the room and help people as they work on what you’re showing them. Even if you think your topic doesn’t require a demonstration, think of one. In 2018’s tabletop 101 workshop, for example, the host brought dice for everyone to roll, just to get the feel of it. Attendees felt closer to the material that way.

And most importantly: have fun! We can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

Other tricks

  1. Have handouts and other materials prepared. Whether they’re explicit instructions or just more information for people who want to take it home with them, having something attendees can hold in their hand and read can help!
  2. Add natural pauses into your instruction so people can ask questions as you go. If you wait until the end you might have some very flustered attendees who fell behind near the beginning.
  3. Offer follow-up for people who might still want to learn, but maybe didn’t do as well in the group environment. Whether it’s one-on-one help during the rest of the con, or just offering up other experts they can consult on their own, attendees will be super appreciative.