Tips for creating online workshops
Here’s an alarming statistic: One in three people has admitted to feeling drowsy or falling asleep during a meeting.
Enter the power of online workshops. These highly interactive, virtual learning opportunities aren’t your same old dry meetings. They’re built on collaboration, which means they keep your participants engaged (and, you know, awake). Keep reading to learn more about online workshops and how you can run them.
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What is an online workshop?
An online workshop is a collaborative discussion where you and your participants will dive into a specific topic in detail.
These workshops are typically far more interactive than traditional online meetings. They use group discussions (sometimes split into small groups or breakout sessions), demonstrations, and other activities to educate and engage participants.
Why businesses and professionals use online workshops
Online workshops have several different use cases. Here are just a few ways brands are using webinars, online courses, and other online learning opportunities.
1. Brand growth
One of the best ways a business can position themselves as leaders in their field is to inform others about relevant topics to their brand. From pre-recorded online classes to live events via video conferencing, businesses can establish brand recognition, build credibility, and foster trust through these online workshops.
EXAMPLE: Notion’s “Office Hours” webinars
2. Product demonstrations and training
These interactive, online learning experiences can educate users and consumers on a product’s features and the best way to use it.
Businesses can use screen sharing to walk through the different aspects of their product, ensure a positive user experience, and boost customer retention.
3. Talent acquisition
Job applicants like to get a peek behind the curtain and understand more about what it’s really like working for a company. That’s why many businesses incorporate online workshops into their employer branding strategies.
They’ll use these online meetings as an opportunity for attendees to ask questions about the hiring process, understand the work environment, and engage with the company on a deeper level.
EXAMPLE: Oracle’s live recruitment webinar
Finally, since online workshops and webinars are more interactive than a standard presentation or meeting, many brands use them for networking.
Participants get plenty of chances to discuss topics and complete exercises together, making these workshops an excellent opportunity to connect with other people who share an interest in that topic.
How to design and create your online workshop
Now your wheels are turning about all of the different ways you could use online workshops. But how do you create one? Here are six steps to follow.
1. Create your workshop idea
First things first, you need to decide on what your workshop will teach. This can feel somewhat daunting, so start with a goal.
Do you want to educate your existing employees? Increase product signups? Establish more credibility as a thought leader in your industry? Zone in on just one goal for now. That will help direct you toward a topic that supports that objective.
Next, since you want your workshop to be in-depth and interactive, it’s best if you niche down to a very specific idea. While casting a wide net is appealing, a more niche workshop provides an opportunity to offer very tactical, targeted advice.
So, rather than hosting an online workshop about online marketing, maybe you’ll host one about writing social media captions that convert customers. That gives your audience a clearer idea of what they’ll learn, as well as what they’ll take away.
Got your workshop idea? Good. Before you invest too much of your own time and a lot of work into planning your online workshop, let’s validate your idea. Ask yourself:
Is there a demand for this sort of topic? Ask your customers, connections, or employees if you have to.
Is there a lot of competition that’s teaching this topic?
How are you uniquely qualified to offer this learning experience?
With those questions under your belt, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get into planning.
2. Download an online workshop template
You’re ready to start pulling some information together, but you want to make sure you’re taking a structured and organized approach.
Rest assured, you don’t need to start from scratch. Miro offers a number of different pre-built workshop templates to help walk you through the creation of your online workshop.
3. Prepare your workshop
You have your template, and now you can start plugging in your content. When it comes to organizing your information, make sure you keep the following in mind:
Collaboration matters. This isn’t your opportunity to broadcast your message to people. Incorporate plenty of group discussions and exercises so people can be active participants rather than viewers.
Build in time for questions. If you have a set amount of time for your workshop, keep in mind you can’t just power through your information. Make sure you build in a buffer in case attendees have questions.
Define a learning outcome. Your online workshop should have a clear takeaway. What will participants gain from their involvement in this learning activity? Your workshop is even more effective if you provide added resources and other course materials that participants can keep.
Provide a streamlined platform for people to work together. Particularly if you have a large group, collaborating via video conference can be challenging and frustrating. Incorporate a platform where people can easily work together without stepping on each other’s toes. A virtual whiteboard like Miro is great for this.
Got it? Now you can start filling in your workshop template or outline with all sorts of valuable information and activities.
4. Take your workshop for a test drive
Because collaboration is such a key piece of the puzzle, your workshop is a live event that will be hosted in real-time. We’ll admit it: That can be a little nerve-wracking.
Calm your stomach butterflies and mitigate any hiccups by doing a test run of your workshop. During this run-through, you should:
Test your equipment and technology (like your webcam, Zoom, internet connection, and more).
Run through each section of your workshop and time it, so you know how long your entire session will take.
Make notes of any tweaks you need to make or details you should be sure to mention during the real event.
Ask for feedback from anyone willing to participate in the dry run of your workshop.
Do those, and you’ll feel even more confident when it comes time to actually host your online learning session.
5. Promote your workshop online
If you’re hosting a workshop internally, then you can skip this step. Instead, you’ll want to promote your workshop to the relevant employees via your company intranet, Slack, and more.
However, if your workshop targets external collaborators — like clients, customers, partners, potential job candidates, etc. — then you need to promote it. Remember, your workshop might be great, but it’s not going to be a massive success if nobody attends.
Promote it on social media or send a link to your email list. Do what you need to do to spread the word about your online training so that people can sign up and learn from you.
6. Host your online workshop
You did it — the hard work is behind you, and now you’re ready to host your live workshop. In most cases, you’ll use video conferencing (like Lifesize, Zoom, Skype, etc.) to do this.
When you kick things off, give everybody the lay of the land by:
Explaining any rules or etiquette (i.e., keep your mic on mute when you aren’t speaking)
Giving a high-level overview of the topics you’ll be digging into
Highlighting any tools or platforms attendees need to be logged into to participate
Sharing a brief agenda, so attendees know if there are times for breaks, etc.
And then you’re off! Start dishing out all of your knowledge in your online workshop format.
5 tools and templates for creating a great online workshop
When it comes to creating an interactive, online workshop, you don’t need to go it alone. From meeting organizers to brainstorming activities, we have templates that you can use as you pull your workshop together.
1. Meeting organizer template
The most effective online workshops are highly organized. This meeting organizer template can help you map out all of the details of your workshop — including topics, activities, and timing.
2. Icebreaker template
Worried people will be too shy to chime in and collaborate? An icebreaker can warm up your attendees and make them more enthusiastic about contributing during your workshop.
3. Brainwriting template
Brainwriting is a great way to generate ideas. Plus, it’s suitable for an online workshop, as even large groups can participate in this interactive activity. You’ll just need to set aside a few quiet moments during your workshop for individual brainstorming.
4. Disney creative strategy template
Dedicating a chunk of your workshop to brainstorming can be valuable. But, if you treat it as a free-for-all, you’re bound to get off track — and some less extroverted members likely won’t be heard. Bring some structure to brainstorming with the Disney creative strategy template. It challenges your participants to think about ideas using three different mindsets.
5. Random words template
This is another excellent collaborative exercise to include in your online workshop. It’s simple: you start with a random word and then ask your participants to come up with ideas or concepts that connect to that word. It’s a simple activity that gets the creative juices flowing (which you’ll need for an effective workshop).
FAQs about online workshops
Still have some questions about online workshops? We have some rapid-fire answers right here.
1. What can I use to host my online workshop?
If you want to keep things simple, you’ll only need a reliable internet connection, a video conferencing solution, and ideally a way for people to collaborate virtually (like with a whiteboard tool like Miro).
2. How do I design an online workshop?
Use the steps we outlined above. Make sure you start with your objective, niche down your topic, and identify the core learning objectives for your attendees.
3. How do I make my online workshop interactive?
Interaction is one of the most important aspects of your online workshop. Incorporate plenty of activities and exercises — from small group discussions to demonstrations to brainstorming sessions — into your workshop to provide ample opportunities for attendees to chime in and actively participate.
Need the ultimate canvas for your virtual workshop? Check out Miro, the real-time collaboration and whiteboarding tool.