Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Preparing for a Workshop

Writer Wednesday

As a writer, you have many skills and talents.  You've learned the craft, and honed it to the point you are published, or very close to publishing.  You are considered an expert on writing because of the quality of your work. 

Not everyone excels in every area, however.  Some writers are great at creating sympathetic characters.  Some can bring an historical setting to life on the pages of a book.  Some can work humor into a serious relationship.  Whatever their strength, they can further their career by holding seminars or workshops. 

In order to hold a successful workshop, and be in demand at other groups, you should be prepared.

The first thing to do is decide on a topic and format.  What is your strength?  Is it promotion?  Is it research?  Select a topic—broad enough to appeal to a wider audience, but focused enough for attendees to learn something useful.  After choosing a topic, select a format.  Would your topic be best presented as a one or two hour presentation?  Or would it be better to hold it over the span of a few weeks?  If you are teaching a craft, sometimes homework and feedback are important, so holding it over several weeks is beneficial. 

After deciding on a format, find a place to hold your workshop.  Also decide whether or not you will charge the attendees a fee.  If you have to pay for your meeting space, consider a reasonable fee to help cover the cost of the room.  If you don't have to pay for the space, you may still consider charging a nominal fee to cover the cost of your handouts.  In some instances, your venue will pay you to give a workshop (libraries or women's groups).  In this case, you can't charge for admittance.

Next, create the curriculum.  Write your outline and presentation, keeping in mind your audience.  Will you be teaching beginners or advanced writers?  Will you be speaking to the general public or other writers?  Make your presentation basic or advanced, depending on the group.

Once your presentation is fine-tuned, prepare handouts for the attendees.  Give them useful tips and information without giving away your entire presentation.  You are the expert.  Have them come to you for advice, rather than giving it all away.

Start early publicizing your workshop.  Use the internet (newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), place fliers in appropriate places, contact your local newspaper, or place ads in writer's magazines.  The earlier you get the word out, the more people you will reach directly and indirectly.

Create a checklist for everything you need to bring with you the day of the workshop.  This will probably include handouts, contact information (for booking more talks), your laptop or flash drive with your files, a sign-up sheet for your newsletter (check with the venue for permission first), display items (books, posters), door prizes, evaluations and pens. 

Finally, after your workshop, thank your audience for attending.  Send them an email or note.  Remind them you are available to give workshops, and offer a list of topics. 

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