I recently ran a workshop as part as my fourth year project in university. This workshop was to promote the art show of the graduating class, and to teach kids about new media education. I called it the “Storybook Hackathon”, on which kids got into teams and “hacked” a book. Using digital softwares, they created interactive stories inspired by the book they got.
I have learned a lot when executing a workshop, and it is NOT as easy is it seems. That 3 hour workshop took 5 months of planning, but at the end it was all worth it. Here is how you can run a successful workshop of any kind:
1. Be an expert on what you want to present!
I have taught kids technology before, and have worked with youth a lot. It only made sense that I organized a kid-friendly workshop! If you have an idea or passion you want to organize a workshop with, make sure you know what you need and how to execute your workshop! If you don’t have the skills in executing a workshop idea you want to run, ask someone who does, and work together to make it happen.
2. Plan ahead!
My workshop ran in March 2016, but I didn’t actually start planning since November 2015. One of the major things you have to consider is booking a space. Sometimes you have to book months in advance (like me), and sometimes you have to inquire on permits and regulations. Even advertising your workshop ahead of time will create more buzz.
3. Location, location, location.
Finding the best location to run your workshop is very important. Knowing what the neighbourhood is like, accessibility, transportation and whether the space would fit your budget are things to consider. I was looking for a library (hence “storybook hackathon”) that was located in a family centred neighbourhood.
You can’t run an entire workshop alone, from when you first come up with the idea to the end of the workshop. Planning takes a lot of time and energy, so having a few helping hands would be essential. My workshop had a great team of volunteers that made everything really come to life. Even if your workshop does not have a lot of materials and set up, it’s good to have one more person in the background by your side to make sure everything is running smoothly.
5. Facilitate teamwork and breaks.
You would probably have to lecture at a workshop, but you can always make your participants feel more engaged by doing a little more. A workshop is generally hands-on, so consider making some hands-on activities and group work for your participants. Also, long workshops would call for breaks of course. Good workshops usually come with good food.