Hosting a workshop is a lot like hosting a well-planned dinner party. You want to get together with a heap of your best client pals, talk about The Things That You’re All Really Good At and Love to Do, and encourage each other on ways to become even better at your business and life.
But it all seems so overwhelming. Where do I start? Do I pick a date and then pick a space? How to I set up my agenda?
First things first.
Step 1: Decide on your ‘Take Home’ idea
This is the most important step, and it’s the one that will set the tone for the rest of your event as well as the agenda.
Wanting your attendees to go home having set up their online mailing lists and gained each other as subscribers? You’ll probably want a creative studio with ample projection solutions, and WiFi to keep everyone working all day long.
Teaching a photography + styling workshop to brand-new photographers? You’ll want an open airy loft with lots of light, and lots of space to set different styling scenarios.
Hosting a mastermind style workshop where everyone gets to know each other’s businesses intimately? Think about a cozy hotel space or an inviting yoga studio during off hours.
Step 2: Search for a venue
This is my super secret trick for finding unique, budget-friendly venues:
Google ‘Event Space + (your city)’. Google ‘Coworking Space + (your city)’ and see if they offer event rentals on weekends. Google ‘Best wedding venues + (your city)’.
(That last one is actually so I can get a list of hotels or unexpected venues that have ballrooms that might also have small, funky conference-style spaces).
I also always check out Evenues or Air BnB to see if those spaces are cheaper (and if your event isn’t going to be huge).
Once you get the venue sussed, you can set a date and start selling tickets!
Step 3: Sort your budget
Once you’ve got your venue picked, you can suss your pricing structure. If the venue includes tables, chairs, and audiovisual, I’d say that should be about 50% - 60% of your budget. Other things to make decisions on are:
Food: If people are there for longer than 2 hours, give ‘em a snack and some coffee. Longer than 4? Lunch would be so nice!
Swag: Treat your guests like gold with a little goody bag! Either use it as a way to brand yourself with pens, mugs (especially if you’re serving coffee at your event), a journal, and something pretty like a motivational art print or your favorite industry magazine.
(PRO TIP: You can also reach out to your community to see if they’d contribute swag as a form of sponsorship!)
Decor: If budget allows (and you’re up for it), a few fresh blooms in some mason jars are an instant space spiffer-upper. If the tables you’re using need a covering, consider renting or buying white table linens to make the space look clean and neat.
Step 4: Host your event
Pretend you’re in school (but way more fun!). Take breaks often (every 60 minutes - 1.5 hours), leave plenty of space for chit chat, and don’t get too overwhelmed if people are asking more questions than you anticipated. It’s all a part of the process!
I highly recommend bringing a Hype Girl, aka a trusted friend who is a tiny bit Type A to help check people in when they arrive, call the space manager if the projector blows a bulb, and set out lunch for your guests while you’re wrapping up the morning session.
Have you ever hosted an event or workshop? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!
This post comes to us via Lauren Caselli, a retreat and conference planner who works with creative entrepreneurs that want to get out from behind their computer screen and in front of their dream clients LIVE. If you want to host an event in 2015, she can help kickstart your planning process. Looking for some event-spiration? Follow along on Twitter and Instagram.