Bringing Life to your Workshops: Avoiding the Grave Mistake

by RivkyShimon - Date: 2007-01-31 - Word Count: 702 Share This!

Workshops aren't that difficult, but they can fall apart. Audiences come expecting to hear from an expert. Students expect to hear from someone who is knowledgeable. The problem is not that you might not know your material. But, the problem comes when you seem like you don't know your material.

I recently watched a workshop where the teacher was working with no more than ten students. That's a manageable class size. Could you imagine working an audience of over a hundred? A class of ten to fifteen gives you the chance to get to know people, to look in their eyes and be more personable. You will actually know their names.

But, there can still be problems. Of course, you know the material. But, you have to be able to know it frontward and backward. You can't just walk into a workshop thinking you are going to wing it because you know the material that well. After all, it is your business and the grave mistake is flopping in front of your audience.

The teacher mentioned above was one of my students learning how to run an art workshop. She was so nervous that she forgot half of the things she intended to talk about for that day. She didn't have notes ready to help her recall anything. I gave her a few tips after allowing her to struggle through that class. After all, those students sitting in that classroom were soon going to get their chance to be nervous in front of their own classroom so it was a good learning experience for all.

Pulling my student aside after class, I asked her how much she had prepared. That has to be the most important thing that you have to put yourself through. You might know the material, but a classroom dynamic changes everything. Staring at blank faces ready to learn all of a sudden gives you sense of responsibility. It also makes you nervous because not many of us are natural public speakers.

Rehearse your material over and over. Then, rehearse it again just before the class. You should always have a good idea of the flow of information. Your beginning point leads to another point. That point leads to another point. You should know every point until you get to your wrap up point. If you know your art concepts quite well, then you should be able to wing the explanations and descriptions. But, you have to know your direction from point to point.

The best strategy is to write all of your art concepts down so that you can see them. This helps you make a complete connection to your brain. But, it also helps you see what order they should be presented. Build your workshop from concept to concept based on what your students need to know first. There is always a logical order to presenting art concepts that make it easy for your students to follow. But, also that serves to make it easy for you to remember.

Now, since you have the concepts already written down, take them to class with you and place them out of the way. Just within reach, but out of the way so that you only have to refer to them when you forget where you are. You can practice a natural rhythm to presenting ideas, checking your notes and returning to the audience so that it doesn't look like you even skipped a beat. Plus, your audience will expect you to have a certain amount of reminders. Most big audiences will even notice Teleprompters at the front of the auditorium to help a public speaker keep moving from point to point. Who says you can't have some notes for your own workshops?

When you are trying to present your audience with information they don't know or understand, you have to come across as if you know the information quite well. It builds confidence. It builds their confidence in you. But when you fall apart, you lose most of your audience right off the bat. The rest are soon to follow. For anyone who is into giving workshops for a business, make sure you keep your audience in their seats by knowing the material you plan to present!

Related Tags: anxiety, business, students, artist, artists, teacher, clients, art, customers, audience, arts, nervous, workshops, workshop, patrons

An internationally known artist as well as a mother of six, Rivky Shimon founded Rivky's Art Workshop in New York. Rivky's step-by-step method for teaching children how to create and enjoy art has earned high praise from students, teachers and parents alike. Through her new training series, Rivky plans to teach artists from across the country how to duplicate her success. Not only to ensure that art education remains a vital part of every child's life, but also to enforce the reality that "The Rivky Method" tm works the same magic for adults as well.

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