The seven traits of highly effective workshops

Last year’s workshops were very popular, and we’re bringing them back again this year, to help people develop specific action plans for their business.

not that kind of workshop

We asked the team at Software Pricing Partners, who have run more workshops than most on pricing software products, what they felt were the important things that make a workshop, well, work.

Here’s what they said:

Sometimes industry workshops can be like the fabled Chinese dinner– you feel stuffed when you’re finished, but after a short while you’re left with that empty feeling again.

Like you, we’ve attended many workshops throughout our career. So, we’d like to share our thoughts about what makes a workshop great and how you can spot one before you sign up.

Starting with the utterly obvious, of course the content should be relevant. But assuming you have that in spades, below are the top seven things you should look for in your next workshop:

1. Unique Content: The knowledge shared in any workshop should be unique. But outstanding workshops provide content that is so unique you cannot get it anywhere else on the planet. While other workshops may cover similar topics, you want the knowledge itself to be so rich, so deep and so packed with new insights that it’s immediately useful.

2. Depth & Breadth: Subject matter expertise is a must-have for instructors but what is often lacking is breadth of experience. Breadth of experience means that you will hear a number of examples that will help you address your unique issues. It also means experience in the many tangential areas the content touches. For example, in our software pricing workshops, we cover all aspects of software pricing as well as product management, sales, marketing and all sorts of downstream gotchas you need to think about before attempting to change the way you price.

3. Food that Feeds the Mind: There’s just nothing worse than sitting through a long workshop with heavy food and unhealthy snacks. You have to fuel your body properly (with more than just coffee) if you want to optimize your learning experience. You want your body’s energy to go to your brain and not work overtime on digesting junk food – which will ultimately lead to fatigue.

4. Engagement & Storytelling: Multi-hour workshops can be mind-numbing. Great workshops keep people engaged. Too many times instructors get caught up in unnecessary details of their subject matter resulting in incredibly complicated presentations. Workshop instructors need to be able to tell engaging stories that are memorable and relevant to the points at hand. Humor is helpful in small doses (like the food).

5. Great Interaction & Energy: Whether it’s through Q&A, group breakouts or one-on-ones, you really want your instructors to engage the audience and everyone’s varied learning styles. The camaraderie and common vocabulary that develops during a workshop should continue after the workshop is over. This is a valuable way to reinforce what you learned and it also enhances your network of contacts. Don’t forget to exchange business cards so you can reach out to others who want to address issues similar to yours.

6. Follow-on Learning Opportunities: Continuing education is always important – more so in the technology space where change is the only constant. You’re never going to learn it all in one day and whatever you do learn will change. Therefore, look for workshops that either provide or are part of an ecosystem that offer follow on webinars, discussion groups and great blog articles so you can reinforce and remind yourself of the key takeaways from the workshop.

7. Actionable Next Steps: It’s great to have a full day workshop on intergalactic travel, but what’s the point? With so many demands on our time, make sure you choose workshops where you can apply your knowledge when you return home. You should be able to reinforce what you learned by applying it immediately. Once you’ve learned ways to achieve more results faster and with less effort, you can learn all you want about intergalactic travel.

The Software Pricing Partners’ workshop will be held after the main Business of Software conference on the afternoon of Wednesday 17th September. More details on that and the other workshops here.