1. Create an appropriate title for your workshop.
Your title is like a menu item. It must be short and concise but appealing and descriptive to writers as they peruse the list of workshops at a conference. “The Life of Pie for Writers” was one of my recent workshop titles. It worked well visually.
2. Narrow your topic.
For example, “Fiction Writing 101” would be overwhelming to research and too broad to be of much use for your writers. Try narrowing it to one technique of fiction writing such as “Creating Compelling Characters.” Then narrow it some more to something like this: “Personality Survey to Create Compelling Characters.” The more specific the topic, the easier and more practical it is to teach and to apply.
3. Develop an interactive workshop.
The best way to learn any skill is hands-on. With each point you teach, allow your writers to apply it. This keeps writers awake and gives them immediate opportunity to put your advice into action. Extend the learning by asking writers to share what they wrote. Be sure to warn them at the beginning there will be time to share. Put their mind to rest by mentioning that this will be optional. Allow writers to learn from each other, not just from you.
4. Be honest about the creativity and writing methods you use.
The writing techniques you take for granted may be a powerful eye-opener to another writer. Be sure to include these in your presentation.
5. Use visual aids.
A Power Point presentation, posters, photos, or tactile props are all helpful ways for your writers to generate ideas and connect your teaching to their writing needs.
6. Prepare handouts.
Give your attendees an overview of your presentation. This helps them follow along as you speak, plus anticipate and recall your major points. You may wish to leave room for them to take notes. (Arrange with the conference director ahead of time to have photocopies made).
7. Be mindful of the time.
Practice speaking your presentation a few times so you can stay within the expected time limit. Highlight and memorize your key points so you make eye contact with your writers. Be prepared to slash minor sections of your presentation in case the hands-on portion of your workshop takes longer than expected.
8. Keep the momentum going.
There is always an attendee who likes to talk. Thank them for their comments and politely turn the conversation back to the topic at hand. Your writers will thank you later.
9. Ask for feedback.
Hand out a short survey at the end of the workshop, asking the participants for anonymous feedback. Two or three questions should suffice: Did you have enough time to practice writing? How could this workshop be improved? Did you learn something that can be applied to your writing projects?
10. Make notes from the feedback on your presentation and save it as a hard copy and on your computer. You want to be ready to present it again sometime.
Pamela Mytroen is an “English as an Additional Language Instructor” and “Language Assessor” in Saskatchewan. She loves baking, reading, and spending time with her family, which has grown to include a sweet grandson. She writes for her local newspaper and, as Acquisitions Editor for Fellowscript, she enjoys working with writers to see their ideas in print. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org