Teaching is an art form. It doesn’t matter if you’re teaching an online workshop or an in-person one. Great teachers hold our attention, make us laugh, help us understand the subject matter, and – most of all – inspire us.
Achieving engagement from your students, especially online, takes practice and experience. Even if you’re new to teaching, or just new to live virtual training, you can make your online workshops interesting and memorable with a few fresh ideas. Take a look at these nine fun online workshop ideas below.
Make it relevant
First and foremost, to earn people’s attention, you need to make sure the content that you’re delivering is useful to them. How do you learn exactly what they want to get out of your webinar or workshop livestream? Ask them.
A few weeks before your event, conduct some initial research with your target attendees to shape your content, and send a pre-event survey so that they can pinpoint problems or topics they’d like to hear about.
On the day of your online event, kick off by giving a brief overview of what attendees are going to learn and how those skills will help them achieve their goals. If you’re using an interactive tool like Zoom, you can even ask them to raise their hand (virtually) or type in what they’re most excited about learning. Then, you can tailor your content to reward those who speak up.
Ditch the traditional presentation
People learn in different ways. Some of us are visual learners who prefer pictures, videos, and diagrams, while others respond to the spoken and written word, music, logic, or even physical activities.
To create an inclusive webinar presentation or livestreaming event, try to combine traditional oral teaching methods with audio and visual content, PDFs, interactive tasks, and group breakout sessions. Throw in a few choice GIFs to get a good laugh from your audience and hold their attention.
Start off your virtual workshop with a quick PowerPoint, then move onto a clip from a relevant podcast. Later, you could have attendees draw short comics based on what they learned and ask a few to present their comics to the rest of the group.
Change your backdrop
Most online training events are held in professional-looking spaces or office areas with white walls and maybe one piece of art, if you’re lucky. Challenge the convention and surprise your attendees by showing up on-screen in front of a colourfully painted wall, outside in a gardened area, or in a space that’s more dynamic and inspiring than a bland, windowless meeting room. As long as your audio won’t be compromised, you shouldn’t be afraid to get creative with your location.
Props can make your teaching even more engaging, livening up your session and helping attendees to remember what they’ve learned. These could be practical objects that literally represent your subject matter (think scales, an abacus, or a mannequin), or they could be ridiculous (try a rubber chicken or magic wand).
Your training or workshop might be serious, but people learn best when they are having fun. Make your class aware that you’re going to place a few Easter eggs throughout the presentation to keep them engaged and then award the attendee who found the most.
Need to keep your attendees focused? Tap into their competitive sides. Puzzles or riddles, crosswords, memory games, and ordering tasks are all great ways to keep your attendees engaged and on-task. For added drama, impose a time limit.
Try introducing a quick quiz at the end of each content section, helping them to recap on what’s been learned, and offer a small prize for the winner.
Tell a story
Whatever you’re teaching, try to make it relatable to everyday life by using real examples, case studies, and creative metaphors. People will sit still for hours watching a movie – why not steal some cinematic tricks?
Stories are central to the way memory works. Even if we don’t realise it, we’re always searching for the narrative. If you can find a way to weave your information into an overarching story, attendees will be more engaged and more likely to remember your content well after the class has been dismissed.
For instance, if you’ve overcome obstacles in your life to get to where you are today, tell attendees your story to inspire and motivate them. If not yours, then there are plenty of inspirational role models whose stories you can weave into the session. If your webinar presentation is related to art, draw upon the lives of artists like Frida Kahlo or Van Gogh and use their paintings to illustrate what can be learned from their struggles and successes.
Play some tunes
Music can set the mood and get attendees energised before your session and during breaks. Play something upbeat to pump them up and then lower it back down to let them know that it’s time to start.
You can also use music during the session – soothing classical pieces have been shown to help people concentrate while completing tasks.
Keep it short
One of the best ways to keep your audience engaged is to avoid overloading them with information. Give them too much and their brains will shut off.
Either make your online session a maximum of two hours or, if it’s taking place over the course of a day, allow short breaks. Give attendees a chance to get up, walk around, and grab a cup of coffee.
Provide recognition and reward
Attendees will be more motivated to successfully complete your workshop if their efforts are recognised and if they have something to show for it at the end.
Let attendees know that they will receive personalised certificates to mark their participation. You should also consider extra incentives such as a competition or small prizes for the best students. Again, tap into the innate need to compete. You could ask everyone in the workshop to find an object in the room they are in that best represents their working style or personality, and ask them to explain why they chose it. Reward the most creative answer with a prize, like a voucher or discount for another one of your workshops.
Get ready to lead a virtual workshop that your attendees won’t soon forget
Teaching is as much about entertaining your audience as informing them. Make your training or workshops lively, varied, fun, and unexpected. Your participants will learn more and be more likely to come back. And if you want to find out if your new webinar tricks worked, you can secure feedback from attendees by sending out a post-event survey.
Ready to create your event? Check out our online events resource hub.