How to have a successful technology workshop. Inspired by a workshop at Velocity 2010.
- Name your session correctly and enter a description that is suitable and specific. Calling it “From design to deploy” and having a workshop about installing a key-value store and setting up an app are two vastly different things.
- If there are pre-requisites list them with the description so people can prepare (or skip your session).
- Don’t assume everyone will have an Apple laptop in their hands. That runs OSX 10. That has access to local network. That runs Chrome 6 or Safari.
- Before you dive into configuration and install steps, explain what your software does and why we should care. Then explain what the workshop is going to do and how.
- Hand out some materials so people can go at their own pace.
- Don’t write the demo materials and code the night before you are giving a presentation at a major conference.
- Have an assistant to help individual folks so you don’t run from person to person like a butt monkey while everyone else twiddles their thumbs.
- Don’ be lazy and terse with your slides. Unless you have some really good software that is solid and works with any input on any environment, under any condition.
- As people are performing the steps of the workshop, follow along and display what you are doing why explaining the steps. Don’t sit around and drop smart-ass tongue-in-cheek comments about the world. Hopefully you have rehearsed and tested the steps as you present them to your audience.
- If you are showing snippets of code on different slides, don’t just explain how they work together and that function on page calls a method on page 3. Show the code structure and then dive into it.
- Don’t assume the workshop network will be the same as your home network with every host open to everyone else.
- Make sure the software version you are demoing is tested and stable. Or don’t tell people there are no single points of failure in your badass software.
- Test your demo and and the instructions that people will be performing.
- Have a backup plan even if it involves handing out materials and doing pen and paper exercises.
- Leave some materials with folks that can be handy to follow up on the workshop.
- Thank your audience for being patient :).
- When you think you are done preparing, prepare some more.