Note: This is part 1 of a 2 part series. Part 2 is here >
Over the last couple of months, I’ve run a lot of interactive workshop sessions using Zoom — including all the live sessions in the Workshop Creator program, as well as the free Express versions of the program that run in a fast-paced 90 minutes timeframe.
While live sessions within a large program tend to have enrolment and connection already forged and fostered, a one-off live online workshop has a different dynamic, and needs a different approach.
A lot of people in the Express sessions said they really enjoyed the format ( ‘a lot of online stuff is so dry!’), and several asked me how I put it all together.
This guide dives into some of the nuts and bolts of setting up and delivering a successful interactive workshop, live and online.
Before getting stuck in, a few notes:
Ok, that’s enough of the boring caveat stuff. Let’s get into it!
There are lots of different ways you can design a workshop. Here’s the design I used for the Workshop Creator Express sessions:
4 x 15 min Sprints:
Honestly, this plan is a squeeze, and I had to work hard to keep it all moving and finish on time. I suggest keeping your session plan a bit lighter with more flex in it, but you can definitely pull off this version with a good bit of planning and practice.
I’ll reference this design in more detail during the delivery part of this guide.
Before that, let’s start at the beginning — our Zoom setup.
I’m going to assume you’ve got a Zoom account, and you know your way around it a bit. If not, there’s a ton of help guides, webinars and other stuff on their site.
First, set up a new Meeting in your Zoom account.
Note: You don’t want a webinar. A lot of people think they’re the same thing as workshops — they’re not. Webinars lean more passive, workshops more active. We want active.
So, you’re setting up a meeting. It’s more active and more open than a webinar. However, you want to put a few constraints in place to keep things moving smoothly, to reduce any nerves or overwhelm you may (will) have, and to prevent any Zoom bombing — you definitely don’t want that.
Go to My Meetings > Schedule a new Meeting
I’ll skip the basic stuff — you probably know about Meeting Titles, Times and all that good stuff.
Let’s jump straight to the business end of things.
For these reasons, I go with the waiting room option. When a participant tries to join the meeting, they’ll see a screen that looks like this until you let them in. This is good for you as a host because you can monitor how many people are waiting, match it against your signup list to see how close to a critical mass you are, and also message all the waiting participants if you need to.
Once you’ve done all of this, hit Save Meeting.
Yay! Meeting created.
The meeting will now be in the My Meetings part of your Zoom account.
Pro Tip: if you’re running your session multiple times but it’s not a recurring meeting (I.e. Each participant attends once, rather than something like a weekly team meeting), you can save the Meeting as a Template which can then be used to create all your other dates. Just be sure to complete all the steps below before you do this, otherwise you’ll end up multiplying your workload. And you don’t want that.
You’re nearly done, but you’re not quite done yet. You’ll need to get the word out about the workshop and ensure people can signup easily. There are some things you can do in Zoom to help make the marketing and onboarding part of your workshop a bit smoother.
Go to the Meeting page, scroll down, and you’ll see a nice registration link like this:
Copy the link and pop it into a new tab. You should see a nice little landing page where people can register for the session. Sweet.
Looks good, but you can make this a bit more dynamic.
At the bottom of the page, you’ve got options to view Registrations, Email Settings, and Branding.
Click view Registrations and, as you may expect, you’ll see a list of everyone who’s registered so far with their name, email, and timestamp of the registration. This is probably at zero for now, but it won’t be soon 🙂
There are a couple of things you can do to improve the registration process.
If you hit Edit on the Registration Options section, you’ll see a modal appear. Let’s go through them one by one.
Registration Options: Tab One
Registration Options: Tab Two
Registration Options: Tab Three
Save all this, and jump back to the meeting page again. Next, Email Settings.
The Email Contact is going to be your Zoom account email by default. Change this if you like, but it’s probably easier to leave it as it is.
It’s worth taking a few minutes to update the next field — Confirmation Email to Registrants. I add some information about what to expect, anything participants need to bring, and a link to my website. Unfortunately, Zoom doesn’t parse weblinks into these emails so don’t include a ton of linked resources as it’s unlikely they’ll arrive in inboxes as clickable links. A few lines of info will definitely help though — you want to make life easy for your participants…because it’ll also make life easier for you 🙂
Ok, last thing — Branding. Zoom is pretty constrained with sizing of logos on the registration page — best to keep the image fairly small as it can look pretty ugly when blown up big on the page.
Once you’ve prettied up your page, you’re all set! It’s time to share your workshop with the world!
Phew, that was a lot. It may have taken a little while to get this all done, but you can always template the meeting (see above) which saves a ton of time, and as with many things in life — it’s all about practice.