How to Keep Your Workshops Engaging and Experiential

One of the most critical success factors to delivering high-impact workshops, seminars and presentation is creating an experiential learning environment for your attendees.  It is what differentiates a good workshop from a great workshop.

Read about how adults learn and discover ways to foster interaction based on the differing learning styles to create an experience that leaves a lasting impact on your attendees.

Adult Learning Styles

When designing and developing your workshop, it is important to understand how adults learn so that you can cater your delivery to different learning styles and keep the attention of your attendees.  There are three main ways adults tend to learn:

    1. Visual – learn by looking at images (seeing)
    2. Auditory – learn by listening (hearing)
    3. Kinesthetic – learn by experiencing (doing)

Some interesting facts to consider: 

  • Most children start out as Kinesthetic learners
  • They often develop Visual learning styles in 3rd grade
  • The Auditory learning style is nurtured in the 5th grade
  • Most Adults are visual and kinesthetic learners with a smaller percent of auditory learners
  • Adults retain less information they hear or see.  They learn best by doing.

Impact of Learning Style on Delivery

You can always anticipate that in your audience there will be a mix of learning styles.

So, what does this tell you about your workshop development and delivery?     

  • Keep your workshops highly interactive and experiential!
  • Vary your delivery methods to accommodate differing audience styles 

The key questions to keep in mind when developing your content is:

  1. How can I best deliver this knowledge/content?
  2. What is the learning I want people to experience?
  3. What kind of interaction/exercise could I facilitate to achieve the learning?

Ways to Foster Interaction and Experiential Learning

There are many ways you can create interaction and provide your attendees an opportunity to experience the learning themselves.  Here are various ways:

  • Open-Ended Questions – Throw out a question and stimulate dialogue.
  • Brainstorming (Popcorn, Round Robin, Individual or small groups) – Ask a question and watch people pop with answers or create a more structured way for them to answer the question.
  • Sequential Questioning – This is great when you have a set of questions that need to be answered in a particular order.  Ask the first one.  Allow for individual time to answer.  Ask the second one and so on.  You can then pair them up after the exercise to share with each other what they came up with.
  • Coaching – If you are skilled in this, live coaching can be very powerful.  Be sure to ask permission to coach someone before diving in.
  • Real Plays (Pairs or Triads) – Don’t do role plays.  Ask them to identify a real challenge or a real scenario that they can work through in pairs or triads.
  • Games – Format your information into games like Trivial Pursuit, Jeopardy, Treasure Hunts, Charades and it’s much more fun for them to learn.
  • Assessments – Come up with a short questionnaire or assessment to help them see the gap.  Then you’ve got lots of information to help them work through the gap.
  • Multi-media – Use of visuals and videos, flip charts and white boards will keep your attendees active in the learning.

Key Takeaway Points

  • People learn best by doing.  Keep your workshop highly interactive. When people experience something, they remember the learning long after the workshop.  This is the best way to create high-impact workshops and seminars.
  • Cater to all learning styles in your workshop. Keep in mind that in any given workshop, you will have attendees that learn in different ways.  Vary your exercises to cater to this.
  • Seek support and ask for help. You do not have to do this alone.  Seek out the support you need! You may be pleasantly surprised with all the people who want to help you.  See more info on Workshop Coaching under Our Courses.
  • Have fun and follow your energy & passion!! Go with where you aliveness is and you won’t be lead astray!  Remember, people want to learn from people who are passionate and energized about their topic.
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