There are four key elements to a conference workshop: a theme, a budget, a date, and a team. We’ll talk about each of these in this article.
A Unifying Message
All great conference workshops in history had one thing in common: a great theme. This is a unifying statement or message that your presenters will deliver, which you want workshop participants to take home.
When choosing a theme, try to pick one that is relatable and elicits an emotional response. It should inspire people to converse. Make it clear and simple, like, “United we stand: What makes a strong team” rather than complex and obscure or vague.
You’ll need a budget and business plan regardless of whether sponsors are funding your workshop or not. Workshop organizers need to know where they are making and spending money. Having a budget will also enable them to set the price for workshop participation.
Consider the venue, transport, catering, marketing, activities, speaker fees, and (if applicable) accommodation.
Schedule your workshop from three to six months ahead and decide how long it will last. When choosing a date, make sure it isn’t around other major events going on in the area, such as concerts or festivals. Your workshop shouldn’t compete with big events. Keep in mind that city venues are costlier for participants because flights are more expensive and it can be more difficult to access the workshop.
People tend to not be available in summer and winter holiday periods, so you’d best avoid those. Ideally, the workshop should take place between March and June or between September and November.
Don’t plan your workshop during the weekend. Most participants see attending a workshop as a part of their job. Ideally, schedule it toward the end of the work week (Thursday or Friday), so that your participants can go sightseeing during their time off.
Get a Team Together
A conference workshop organizer needs a strong team to take responsibility for various aspects of the marketing, planning, and negotiations. These aspects include administration and possibly sponsorship.
Your administration team is responsible for budgeting and registering participants. This team or individual is the main point of contact for questions surrounding the workshop. Your planning team is responsible for catering, the venue, and activities. If your conference workshop is relying on external sources of funding, you need a person or people responsible for fundraising, finding sponsors, or applying for grants. As organizer, you will set priorities, coordinate the team, and delegate tasks.
If you take care to ensure all these elements have been dealt with, your workshop is destined for success.