Workshop Advice

Words of Wisdom

Normally, in anything I do, I'm fairly miserable. I do it, and I get grumpy because there is a huge, vast gulf, this aching disparity, between the platonic ideal of the project that was living in my head, and the small, sad, wizened, shaking, squeaking thing that I actually produce.

— Neil Gaiman

These tips can help you prepare for any workshop.

  1. When preparing for a classroom workshop I always print off the slides and highlight and make personal notes on them prior to presenting. This way I hardly glance at the slide show, never appear to be reading from slides, and have some real-world examples already on hand!

  2. My partner and I met the week before  the presentation to get a general outline. Since neither of us had performed the presentation before, we came up with “contingency” plans for the activity at the end. This strategy was good, because it kept us flexible while still allowing us to be prepared. Right before the workshop, we ran through our roles and went through those contingency plans again.

  3. Presenters should dress up as a matter of respect for the Writing Center. Professional dress also generates respect for the presenter.

  4. While the workshops are informative, they are also linear and aren’t conducive to individual experience. When you customize the workshop, speak about what you know or how you’ve tackled issues with clients. By doing so, the presentation itself will come across as more natural.

  5. Change the slides to fade out all the wrong answers and have the correct ones remain.

  6. It is frustrating when professors and instructors requesting workshops want something super specific but do not let the presenters know ahead of time. Ask them to be specific about their expectations, and suggest they review the slides. Also pin them down on how much time you can spend.

  7. Encourage instructors to print the slides beforehand and distribute to the class or post them to a class website.

  8. Crack jokes, make eye contact, talk to people before the presentation (increases the rapport between you and the class), and be familiar with the presentation.

  9. Some of the slides you almost can't elaborate on they're so simple. In that case, I usually give a personal example either about myself or about a client that relates to the topic.

  10. Rather than alternating slides, I did the first half and Angela did the second half of the presentation. I jumped in occasionally when Angela was presenting to add points. I thought that the way we organized how we presented worked well for us. As a presenter, sometimes it feels disjointed when you have to shift presenters from slide to slide. But switching off, in my experience, has also been nice to not have to speak for so long at once.

Background Reading and Preparation (books and DVDs available from the UWC book shelf

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