Step into the spotlight

One of the reasons you started your business, practice or consultancy is because you are an expert, right?! You have knowledge and wisdom in your field, and you are building your own empire. There are so many ways to share your know-how with others - and an all-time favorite of mine is hosting a workshop.

Wonderful workshops

You've likely attended a professional workshop or tutorial yourself. In-person or online, they can be helpful, insightful and actually nice breaks from your day. Programs like "Lunch & Learns" or "Local Coffees" are really popular. Often times, there are organizations looking for topics or hosts, such as tourism offices, Chambers, libraries and networking groups. You in?

Make it formal or informal - it’s all up to you

Do you shudder at the idea of being in front of a group? Not everyone is comfortable with this. Many small business owners are leaders in their field but that could be miles away from public speaking. I say, make it your own. If you prefer an informal setting, then just sit around a table and lead the discussion. Having handouts or accessing a small screen with a presentation is always helpful and more dynamic (that PDF presentation can still be simple). If you’re more of a Ted-talk type person, then go for it. Get a large conference room or gathering place and take the stage. Whatever you prefer is a reflection of your style, and that is important to impart. My workshops are informal, conversational and spirited. I often give a short presentation on marketing basics and then turn it over to the group - for real life examples and a look at their work. These on-the-spot makeovers can be eye-opening and often really valuable - and fun!

Share, remind and meet

One of the main benefits to holding a workshop is to share your experience with others, help enlighten the group and meet new people. It’s a brilliant networking tool. Even if you don’t drum up any new business (right away), you will have sharpened your leadership skills, given good tips and added solid names to your mailing list. By the way, do use a workshop opportunity to help others and share your expertise…but don’t use it solely as a sales tool. If you are a financial consultant, tell folks how to better plan for the future, how to budget well and what to look for in a financial planner (you or otherwise). If you are a web designer, dig into the various platforms available, why design and writing matter and how to go about finding the right resource. You get the (well selected and professional looking) picture!

Show and tell for best results

My suggestion for leading a workshop is to keep it focused and streamlined. If you do share a PDF presentation, make it short and sweet - and be sure to feature compelling visuals. This can be the use of great photography or graphics, if the presentation calls for it. Or just really well designed charts if that’s your thing. If you have a more comprehensive tutorial, try to stick to a single topic. I recently tuned into an online workshop on the topic of promoting artists. It was thorough, that’s for sure - probably too much so. It was almost two hours with a single presenter talking the whole time! There wasn’t any cut-away to visuals or slides, anything to break it up. There were also too many sub-topics - this could have been broken up into a series of three or four really interesting sessions. Finally, at the end, there was no way to get in touch for more information. This sounds like a rookie attempt and it was - they admitted, this was their first presentation. Which is even more reason to start small and keep it light.

Where in the world?

If you have your own office space or some kind of venue, then you can easily hold your workshop there. If you need a place to host your in-demand discussion (!), locations like a Chamber, a co-working space, a community center or private restaurant room are all great starts. The idea is to keep it professional, easily accessible and in-keeping with your own personality. Once you have this set up, have fun marketing and promoting it. See how many responses you get. Even if it's a small group, great! That means more one-on-one conversation. You can do it - and I look forward to being invited to your talk soon!

(published 2023)