The Workshop Survival Guide: How to design and teach educational workshops that work every time | Rob Fitzpatrick - Devin Hunt
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Most workshops don't work.
They fail to deliver real results and they fail to keep the audience energetic and engaged. They're stressful to run and painful to attend.
Designing and running a brilliant workshop is easier than you think. It's not about flashy showmanship or natural charisma. Instead, it's about following a set of clear, simple rules for structuring and arranging the day.
Discover and use key design principles such as:
Naturally refresh and maintain the audience's attention and energy by alternating the "teaching format" (e.g. lecture, small group discussion, hands-on practice) every 20 minutes and making strategic use of good breaks
Dramatically improve your educational impact by choosing an exercise which is properly matched to the type of knowledge/skill/wisdom currently being taught
Save dozens of hours by beginning your design process with a simple "skeleton" of Learning Outcomes and timings rather than jumping straight into slides and materials
Finish on time, every time, by intentionally designing flexible "schedule springs" into your session, allowing you to seamlessly adjust to delays and bad luck, and to ensure that everyone learns what they came for without running late
The first half of the book covers everything you'll need to know about designing and refining the session itself. With a good design in hand, teaching a brilliant workshop goes from arduous to nearly automatic.
The second half of the book shifts from ahead-of-time design to day-of facilitation.
Learn the essential facilitation needed to solve unexpected problems and run a smooth, stress-free workshop:
Reliable tools and tactics for crowd control, recovering attention, and shifting between tasks (without feeling like you're fighting against your audience)
Clear guidance for picking the best room setup, and also improving a "bad" room to make the most of it
Spotting and problem-solving the six major types of "difficult" attentees who are being either accidentally or intentionally disruptive (including the most common issue of bringing a hostile expert onto your side)
Checklists and reminders of what to bring, what to do, and when to do it, in order to ensure that nothing gets forgotten, overlooked, or lost
At no point in the book will we ask you to "put on a big smile" or "project confidence". That's fluffy BS which doesn't work. Instead, we'll give you clear, concrete tools for managing a crowd and seamlessly guiding everyone to an effective outcome.
Why we're the right authors to help you succeed
Over the last 15 years, we’ve designed and run a huge number of successful workshops (and a few major flops) covering every type of audience: executives, undergrads, MBAs, disadvantaged youths, busy professionals, and more. We’ve designed everything from 20-minute teasers to 3-month intensives, in locations ranging from Costa Rica and Qatar to London and Berlin.
We’ve taught for companies like HP and Deloitte and for universities like Oxford and NYU. We’ve built workshops for every price point, from free upskilling (paid for by the state or employer) through to $4000-per-seat premium events. We’ve taught casual sessions, with beer in hand and flip-flop on foot, through to formal, posh affairs with glitzy venues and high-end catering. In every case, no matter where it was located or who it was for, the process outlined in these pages worked.
Perhaps most importantly, we can teach you how to do this. We’ve trained up teachers from scratch who are now billing upwards of $5000 per day and getting invited back to teach again and again. This stuff isn’t complicated.
You can learn it!
From the Author
We've found teaching to be both hugely rewarding and also a deep, interesting skill to study and improve.
We also believe we can make it feel a whole lot less mysterious and less scary for you. And once we do, we hope you'll find yourself enjoying teaching just much as we do.
About the Author
Rob Fitpatrick teaches early-stage startups, with a focus on how get honest customer feedback when everyone is lying to you (which is also the subject of his first book, The Mom Test). Rob blogs at The Startup Toolkit and lives in Barcelona.
His favourite teaching moments are when you finally find that magic metaphor or demonstration which makes a complicated and abstract concept feel natural and memorable.
Devin Hunt teaches a wide range of topics for mid-stage entrepreneurs, with a focus on product design and skill-building for executive teams. Cofounder of Lyst, one of Europe's top tech startups. Devin shares his writing at hailpixel.com and lives in London.
His favourite moment in a workshop is when you've delivered so much value to an audience that they've completely set aside their skepticism, are up for anything, and are practically jumping out of their seats to try it for themselves.
Together we've built and run workshops covering every type of audience: executives, undergrads, MBAs, disadvantaged youths, busy professionals, and more. We've designed everything from 20-minute teasers to 3-month intensives, in locations ranging from Costa Rica and Qatar through to London and Berlin. We've taught for companies like HP and Deloitte and for universities like Oxford and NYU. We've built workshops for every price point, from free upskilling (paid for by the state or employer) through to £3000-per-seat executive education. We've taught casual events, with beer in hand and flip-flop on foot, through to formal, posh affairs with glitzy venues and high-end catering.
Perhaps most importantly, we can teach you how to do this. We've trained teachers up from scratch who are now billing north of £2000 per day, and who are getting invited back to teach again and again. This stuff isn't complicated. You can learn it, and you can do it.