Become a Workshop Presenter


Find your passion and teach it!

You don’t have to wait for someone to ask you to teach what you know. Learn the baby steps to becoming a workshop presenter . . . you never know what it will lead to!

There are many reasons for setting out on this adventure: including promoting a book or other product, overcoming shyness, career advancement, and just plain old-fashioned fun. You will be amazed at how many skills you’ll learn—or rusty skills you will dig up—by getting up in front of people to talk about your passion. Written by a shy person who DIA (did it anyway).

Orignially an e-book (winner in the e-book category at the 2004 DIY Festival), Milli is developing this material into an online course where you can do each step yourself as you go through the assignments, giving you the preparation and self-produced materials to start your own workshop.

This course will help you get started at a grassroots level, which is the best place to start to gain the practice and experience you’ll need to move up to bigger events and speaking engagements. Plus, through the need to understand how to present it to workshop participants in a clear and engaging manner, you’ll learn your own material so well (discovering aspects of it you might not have been fully utilizing) you’ll likely end up with increased expertise in your field.

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CURRICULUM

The Rewards of Being a Workshop Presenter
What’s the difference between a workshop and a lecture?
You Know Something That Others Want to Learn
Naming Your Workshop
Developing a Format for Your Workshop
How to Produce Eye-Catching and Educational Handouts
How to Write A Proposal for Adult Education Venues
Adult Education Venues That Will Give a Beginner a Chance
How to Organize an Independent Workshop
Gain Experience as a Speaker Before Your Workshop Debut
How to Test Your Workshop on Willing Guinea Pigs
Spread the Word (Cheaply!) About Your workshop
Design and Produce a Professional Workshop Brochure
Your Mailing List and Brochure Mail-Outs
More About Press Releases and Who To Send Them To
Teacher and Student, Come Prepared
Develop a Product for “Back of the Room Sales”
Tips for Running a Smooth Workshop
Injecting Fun Into Your Workshop Format
Testimonials Will Sell Your Workshop to Future Participants
The Fun of Learning Never Ends: Index Of Resources

Excerpt from: BECOME A WORKSHOP PRESENTER
Copyright © 2003 Milli Thornton

From Chapter Two: “What’s the Difference Between a Workshop and a Lecture?â€

A WORKSHOP IS more about audience participation than is a seminar or lecture. For instance, say you’re a pottery expert and you’ve pioneered a new method for glazing and firing. You may be asked to give a scholarly talk on your discovery to a group of university teachers. But a workshop where the same art teachers get to hear the inside secrets and try it out for themselves—with clay and glaze and kilns—may be a more satisfying approach.

Lectures are useful for large groups of people when it’s more appropriate to do most or all of the talking yourself. For a lecture, you may stand behind a lectern in your business suit and use an overhead projector to illustrate your major points. A workshop is for smaller groups where participants can “get their hands dirty” and learn by doing, interspersed with mini-lectures from you . . . usually in less formal clothing and in a more relaxed setting.

Artist John Farnsworth of the Farnsworth Gallery teaches the Watercolor Equus for Taos Art School. This four-day class teaches the watercolorist to “capture the spirit of the horse both in motion and in repose.” John also teaches a method using only the primary colors—red, yellow, and blue pigment—to simplify the palette by mixing the desired colors and shades in lieu of buying endless tubes of paint. John teaches the Watercolor Equus in a barn with a live horse. Students watch the animal in motion as they paint the horse in its different moods.

Is John teaching a seminar or a workshop? Does the terminology even matter? I think it does. The word “workshop” should conjure images of play or involvement with the workshop material.

One definition of seminar is a group of advanced students working under a teacher in a specific subject of study. So, when teaching workshops for the general public, it’s probably best to leave the seminar structure to university professors and design material that’s not too narrow or specialized. Especially when first starting out, your workshop format should be accessible to beginners. Farnsworth’s teaching style embraces a range of talents: from those just beginning to dabble in watercolor to those who’ve grown frustrated after becoming entrenched in a certain method or habit using watercolors.

A lecture may last for only an hour or two, whereas workshops can last for half a day to a weekend—and sometimes even a week. You’ll get a feeling for how long yours should be once you’ve followed the steps laid out in this workshop tutorial.

As a workshop presenter, you can concentrate on being less of a talking head and more of a demonstrator. Develop plenty of exercises for your students, supply them with the materials they’ll need to try it themselves, demonstrate how to do it, and then give them some space—a no-talk zone—and let them get their feet wet.

If your style really lends itself to more of a seminar or lecture format, you can still use many of the principles in this e-book to help you develop and promote your class. There’s nothing inferior or superior about either style; it’s simply a matter of what works best within your time restraints and with the learning materials, if any.

Phil Jones is an Australian musician who tours the USA presenting workshops on an ancient Aboriginal wind instrument: the didgeridoo. Phil provides each student with a didgeridoo and, during the course of an evening, gets everyone puffing and blowing and making music—a fine example of a hands-on workshop exercise.

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