Learnings from a WTF?! Workshop

By EHM Feature Writer Sarah Jensen

A couple of years ago I went to what was possibly the worst workshop EVER.  And I’m talking BAD (think leaving before the event is over and asking for a refund bad).

After the frustration wore off and I realised even a refund wouldn’t give me back the hour and a half of my life I’d lost, it dawned on me that while I might not have learned what I thought I would at the event, there were actually some really cool things I could learn from bad teacher dude. 

1. Make people feel welcome and let them know what to expect

Bad teacher dude started off the class by telling us ALL about himself, his company and the services they offer (instant ick factor because he was selling before he’d taught us a thing).  

What he didn’t do was welcome us, let us know where the bathrooms or fire exits were, whether there’d be any breaks and what the outline for the workshop was.  It was salesy from get go and that’s not cool!

Key learning: introduce yourself in a friendly, relatable way, let guests know what to expect during the event and cover off the essential housekeeping items before you dive in to the content.


2. Have a plan for your presentation

Bad teacher dude was all over the place like a mad woman’s knitting.  There was absolutely no logic, flow or order to what he was presenting.  He jumped from topic to topic and repeated himself a lot (and not in the good, reinforcing the point kind of way).

Key learning: spend time planning your content, test it out on a friend or family member and read it out loud or record it and listen back so you can hear for yourself whether the topics you’re covering flow in a way your guests will enjoy and understand.

3. Talk like a normal person

Bad teacher dude LOVED his jargon.  He was throwing it into almost every sentence and after a while it got plain irritating.  People started off the night asking him to clarify, but after a while we all gave up and tuned out.  

Key learning: using words people don’t understand doesn’t make you smarter or prove you’re an expert, it can actually make your guests feel uncomfortable, so make sure you tailor your content for your audience and the topic you’re presenting.


4. Don’t be a d***

Bad teacher dude liked to talk about himself. A LOT.  If he wasn’t telling us how great he was, he was telling us how amazing his company was and that we should pay them money for their amazing services (which weren’t that amazing).  (Noting too that this workshop was held at a community venue where the teachers were there to help people learn a particular skill, not plug their products and services.)

Key learning: weaving in personal stories so people can relate to you or the topic you’re teaching = awesome.  Talking about yourself constantly and for the sake of it when it has no relevance to anyone in the room = loser move.


Now I KNOW you’re nothing like bad teacher dude, but I wanted to share this experience with you because sometimes in life we don’t learn what we expected, but if we’re open we might just learn something better.  So if you end up at an event that isn’t what you expected, instead of getting super cranky (like I did to begin with), look at what you can learn from the event – like how not to present or what you don’t want to do at your own wonderful workshops – and then go forth and be awesome!


All photo credits belong to Kate Di Blasi Photography