Progress Report 12: Reflecting on Workshop Design
A bit of a rant about online educational events
Hi there 👋
Online events season is in full swing!
First up, I’d like to share with you some upcoming free events in case you’d like to register too:
Create an Outline For an Online Workshop - Mon Oct 17 at 12pm EST
My friend Alexandra will be sharing how to get started in planning an interactive online workshop. Given her experience working with several cohort-based courses, including Write of Passage, this is bound to be a valuable workshop worth attending!
Adobe Max Creativity Conference - Tues Oct 18
Mythbusters: Everything You've Been Told About Negotiation is a LIE - Tue Oct 11 at 8pm EST
Cognitive UX - Using cognitive science and psychology to drive UX design - Wed Oct 19 at 1pm EST
📌 Comment below with your recommendations for upcoming online events!
How much do you care about the experience of online events?
I care a lot.
This past week, I attended several online workshops and summits. I’ve been learning a lot being in the same virtual room as the course creator community.
I’ve been finding the guest speaker sessions to be particularly worthwhile. For example, I really enjoyed Danielle Leslie’s session at the Future of Courses Summit by Circle. Her energy was refreshing and she effectively closed the invisible gap between her and the remote audience (which digital presenters often overlook).
One quote she talked about that has since remained on my mind is, “what you appreciate appreciates”. She spoke about it in the context of identity and how we can deliver more compelling online courses by embracing all parts of our personal and professional expertise.
I also find this quote remains true when interpreted in other ways such as related to gratitude, investments, etc.
On the flip side, sometimes I leave online events feeling disappointed. I recently attended an event that was promoted as a content creation workshop. When I entered the Zoom meeting, it was audio and video off by default. No audience interaction other than Q&A at the end.
My recent realization: There’s a difference between a workshop and a webinar.
Workshops are activity-oriented. Imagine going to a dance workshop and not doing any dancing.
Why wouldn’t we hold the same expectations for a content creation workshop? I hoped to at least be given a writing exercise to practice in a collaborative learning environment.
Even if it’s a free event, attendees pay with their time. And not just their time later when they watch the recording. If someone attends live, they’re giving you an even more precious resource—their present attention. That should never be taken for granted.
If you want to read more about experience design for online events, I highly recommend a recent newsletter by Amanda Natividad called I Don't Think Your Webinar Is Welcoming. She provides several practical tips for setting up a warm and welcoming learning atmosphere.
And if you’re a Brene Brown fan, you gotta check out her latest podcast episode with Simon Sinek and Adam Grant called What’s Happening at Work, Part 1 of 2. At the end (~37:40 mark) she says a good speaker comes down to two things; are they in service and are they generous?
While workshops or webinars are great marketing or sales strategies, these events go wrong when the presentation is all about the speaker, their company, or the product they’re selling.
Remember to first and foremost be in service to the audience. And be generous about it. Deliver value that the audience can’t get anywhere else because nobody can do it the way you do. That’s the surefire way to create a lasting impression.
Thanks for reading!
Would love to hear about your experience with online educational events and which ones have created a lasting impression on you. Don’t hesitate to drop a comment.👇
And if you’re in Canada, hope you have a great Thanksgiving long weekend!
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