Delivering workshops or presentations? Here are 3 common mistakes to avoid

Here are 3 most common traps for trainers and educators (and how to avoid them) - I hope you will use them to make your workshops better :)

Trap 1: Talking too much - and not having learners work/think hard enough

Learning happens when the learner processes the new ideas and insights in their mind actively. Quality learning is not so much about memorizing as it is about reflection, actively processing, understanding, building own insights - that makes the insights both memorable and truly relevant for the learner.

When the trainer gets too much in presenting mode, the learner becomes passive and deep learning doesn’t happen.

Quick solution to avoid this trap:

  • Motivate learners to be active by sharing how our content relates to their real life.
  • Connect the group and make people curious and interested in each other and the perspectives of others.
  • Involve exercises, discussions, questions for learners to reflect throughout the education.

Trap 2: Being (too much) in love with the content we teach/train/present

When trainers find their own content super interesting and valuable (and, let’s face it, we all do :D), one of the three things happen:

  • We miss clarifying WHY this content is relevant for the learner and why should they care about it.
  • We create content overwhelm because everything seems so important and we don’t wanna skip anything. So, we cover a lot, but the learner has no time to process it.
  • And sometimes we also get entangled into the “curse of knowledge” -> our content is so easy and close to us that we explain things in too complicated way.

Quick solution to avoid this trap:

  • Give a strong ”why” (why this matters for participants' real life) right at the beginning of the workshops, and also at the beginning of each new topic or activity.
  • Be super clear on the core message - the most important point for them to learn. You are clear on your core message when you can summarize your workshop’s main point in one clear, straightforward sentence. Yes, reaching that level of clarity is difficult :) Yet crucial!
  • Underline and highlight that core message throughout the workshop in several different ways - using diverse activities and approaches, and all the senses. Ensure that every part of the workshop structure supports that one main core message.

Trap 3: Not being flexible in adapting to the needs and preferences of the group

Trainer who is not flexible does these mistakes - and sabotages learning by doing it:

  • When strong emotions arise in the training room, they ignore it and continue with the agenda, instead of leveraging or addressing those emotions for deeper learning.
  • Ignore the energy level of the learners - working on complex concepts while the group is low on energy and tired, or perhaps not integrating enough movement in the workshop plan.
  • Not noticing that learners’ knowledge and interests are different from the initial workshop plan. Or noticing, but not being able to adapt to them.
  • Recognizing that the group is very diverse and has different needs and experience levels - but not being sure what to do about it, so continuing according to the original plan, making it boring for veterans or confusing for newbies.

Quick solution to avoid this trap:

  • In advance and at the beginning of the workshop, ensure that you research your learners’ needs, preferences, and relevant challenges. Build the plan accordingly, but also stay open to changing that plan if you learn more about them at the workshop itself.
  • Be crystal clear on your learning goals and which are priorities. This will enable you to keep flexible, while still keeping the relevant goals in the center of the learning experience.
  • Build the program with more ownership and choice given to participants, so they can customize their experience, while still keeping your learning goal in focus.

Would love to hear:

What other traps do you recognize when delivering (or attending) workshops?

What are some of the things you would like to see changed in most of the learning experiences that you join?

iynna's profile thumbnail
All of this absolutely accurate! Love the "being too much in love" you are right. There's a careful balance between passion and too much excitement to the point that you lose your audience. BTW this advice is spot on for founders too!
Mirna's profile thumbnail
oooh, you are so right, I never though of the same tips for founders, but you have a good point there :)))
iynna's profile thumbnail
So many great lessons you’ve shared with us that can be applicable in so many other situations! Thank you for sharing!