Delivering a Transformational Workshop: Part One: Basic Setup and Context

May 15, 2018

Are you a wellness teacher, health organization or holistic healer? Leading a successful online or blended transformational workshop can be life changing, but there are some key ingredients necessary to enable a successful outcome. Here is a simple structure for delivering a transformational workshop, and almost any workshop in which you’re aiming to offer people useful skills in an experiential way. These tools can be applied to both in-person and online experiences, as long as you are able to use an online platform that enables strong interaction, communication, and engagement.


  1. WARM UP
  2. SETTING CONTEXT
  3. DELIVERY
  4. TAKE HOME TOOLS AND NEXT STEPS
  5. REVIEW WHAT YOU DID
  6. FINAL Q&A.


I have broken this process into 2 parts. In this article I will review the framework and scaffolding and then, in part two, we’ll talk about the process of turning your great idea into actual course content, using detailed examples--so stay tuned for the next one!


First, here’s a simple explanation of what we believe a Transformational workshop entails. NOTE: If you are just imparting new information, you can just use a simple presentational approach. E.G. “Today we’ll presenting the the 7 ways to use this widget.” 1. List the ways. 2. Explain with examples 3. Have a Q&A or FAQ, and you’re done.

A transformational workshop, however, offers knowledge and skills in both an instructional and experiential way so that your mind and outlook are expanded in the process, and often you leave a changed person.  You should leave such a workshop feeling like you’ve integrated new skills and knowledge, with the enhanced confidence, inspiration, and insights to use them.


1. WARMUP


It’s good to start with some kind of warm-up. This is something that will allow participants to drop whatever they have just been involved in, and “warm-up” to what follows, and to each other.


SAMPLE In-Person: Choose a partner: person wearing the brightest color begins by asking “what brought you here? And “what would you like to learn this day?” (Having a way to make a choice of who starts with something basic and neutral-- like the color of clothing, hair length, etc, starts the bonding process in an easy--and often humorous--way.


SAMPLE Online: on Dream See Do, you can pair your participants ahead of time by using the supporter function. Ask them to introduce themselves to their buddy with an introduction step, and then have each buddy comment back to that intro. There are many fun ways to run activities like that in an online learning community.


Each group is different, with its own personality.  While they are chatting with each other (either in person or online), this also serves as your own “warmup” as you observe and get a sense of the room. With an online learning community environment, you can try techniques like integrated live video chats, or through asynchronous exercises. In this example, if you prompt students to pair off by similar interests, you can see people share comments and get a sense of the ‘online room’.


After they have switched partners, return to a group format. This can be in a “circle” format, if that feels right, or they can just sit facing you. Online, the Dream See Do learning activity feed can serve this same modality. Check out real-time exercise responses and comments on that central feed. Have a few folks share with the group what they just shared in their partner experience. After the warm-up, people should feel more present, more relaxed, and eager to begin the learning and transformational process.


2. SETTING CONTEXT


At the outset it’s always good to give people some structure and context for their time together.  This will help reassure them as to how the program will flow, when the breaks will be, and that they made a good investment of their time and money.  


A simple way to do this is to show them your workshop objectives, and the general structure of the program. In person, this is often effective on a board or flip chart, on a learning platform, you can share exercise titles, how long they’ll take and a timeline on the course details page.


A. OBJECTIVES: What you would like them to leave the workshop having learned and experienced?


It might be something as simple as "You will walk away with five new skills dealing with conflict.”  Or, “You will leave with some basic techniques and structures for a daily meditation practice.” This objective should be in alignment with whatever ad, or other promotional material that inspired them to sign up. It is at this point when they hear or read these objectives, that you will also want to get a read of your audience, and observe if there is a quickening and an excitement about achieving this objective. A brilliant way to accomplish this online, is to incorporate a self assessment poll or survey (something that you can include right in your program/course structure on Dream See Do).


B. INTRODUCTION: Tell them what and how, in general, you plan to deliver on this objective/these objectives.


Without going into too much detail, you want to outline the conceptual material you will talk about, the skills, and any experiences you may offer. Again this enables them to trust and relax into the learning experience. It also communicates a message that you are really thinking about them;  that you have put a lot of care into giving them the best, most viable experience.


In an online learning community, you can record a video or audio introduction to the course, to provide this message.


C. AGREEMENTS: List any group “agreements.”

(Again, this is up to you. Could be about confidentiality, no side conversations, etc. )


D. BREAKS: Let your learners know when you intend to have breaks in the program.


This sounds like something that can only happen in person, but online we have seen folks offer a technology break as one exercise for the program, as an example.


3. DELIVERY


Now you can actually deliver the workshop!

Note, the second article on “Delivering a Transformational Workshop”, will help you to create and conceive this part: “Part Two: How To Turn Your Ideas into Course Content.”  


You have a lot of leeway here as to style.


  1. Discussion Topic: This is where you talk about the concepts your learners will need to learn in order to fulfil the workshop objectives.
  2. Practice and/or Inquiry: If you are, for example, doing a workshop on healing techniques, this is where you take them through and teach practice, or at least the first layer of them.

An inquiry would be something where they learn from the practice they just tried. They might explore on paper the questions you gave them, write freestyle, and/or share in pairs or a group of three. (Having a group of more than three will take more time and add more complexity, so have a larger group only if you have more time in your day.)

Using a video reflection or journal response on web or mobile could be a great way to do this practice. You could also hold a Live video chat and break people into groups of 3-5, in live video breakout groups.

  1. Questions and sharing (if you like):  In person, there would typically be time for Q/A both in between exercises and at the end of the workshop. This is also a great space for eliciting the group to share thoughts, ideas and reflections.

You can use a response prompt on Dream See Do to elicit a text, video, audio, image or other response type. This enables the learner to fully express themselves as they respond to a question or prompt for sharing thoughts and reflections.


If you are leading a short 2-3 hour workshop the above a-d might be the meat of your program. If you are leading a longer workshop you might be repeating a-d several times in the program.


4. TAKE HOME TOOLS AND NEXT STEPS


Before you enter into the last phase of the workshop, you will want to give them any materials and trainings suggestions, and resources. This will enable them, in an ongoing fashion, to make sure these new skills and learnings are grounded in their life and work. If I’m teaching a meditation workshop, for example, I’ll have a sheet that outlines a suggested at-home practice.

Note: This phase of the program should also include promotion of your upcoming trainings, your services, newsletter, etc.



5. REVIEW WHAT YOU DID


Pretty simple. Make sure you’ve allowed enough time to review the workshop’s objectives, and briefly outline all that was covered and done to deliver them. This should help reinforce the learning and leave them feeling complete and ready to apply it!


6. FINAL Q&A, AND SHARING


Doing a Q&A can be just taking a few questions, and sharings,  as they arise with the time allotted. However, the more participants you have, the better it is to have some structure.


  1. Explain how much time you have for the Q&A and sharing.  
  2. In person you can have folks raise hands, to choose the next speaker.

Online, in lieu of raising hands, you can simply have people comment with questions, ask a question in chat during a live video session, or share them via messaging on web or mobile.

  1. Sometimes, you may want to choose people who have not shared as much throughout the program. If so, announce this is what you are doing.
  2. Remember that questions and sharing should be to serve the whole group, not just the individual speaking. Be especially aware of folks who are sharing mainly to get attention, as less demanding students may feel left out or frustrated.
  3. In person on a live video call, feel free to say “let’s take a few more questions” and I’ll get back to that one, if it feels like one question may be too complex, or may not serve the group.



I hope this will help get you started! Tune in for “Part Two: How To Turn Your Ideas into Course Content”  for further tips to help you deliver great skills and knowledge in an experiential and transformational way. Check out DreamSeeDo.org for multi-dimensional community-based support in offering your workshop online!


Ready to expand your training work or teaching online? Try this free course to learn how your own interactive, online learning community can increase your impact and client retention.