Giving Workshops

Giving a workshop at a teacher training event such as a conference can be a great way to boost your CV, to network and to learn more about a particular teaching idea. While presenting a workshop in front of 20 other teachers can seem daunting, if you follow the tips below you’ll find that it’s not as hard as you thought.

  • Pick a topic you enjoy.  While certain topics might be in demand at the moment, if you pick a topic that you’re not interested in, you won’t enjoy researching about it or giving the presentation.  Rather than picking an in theme, choose a topic that you know a bit about and want to learn more.
  • Do research.  While you might know enough about a particular theme to create an hour and a half presentation, it’s always good to base your knowledge on theory.  So whether you use the internet, books, or your fellow teachers, do a bit of research beforehand.
  • Credit your sources.  Going hand in hand with research is giving credit where credit is due.  Plagiarism just doesn’t cut it.
  • Have a warmer.  Just like in your classes you’ll find that people come late or tired.  At the beginning of your presentation, do a warmer that focuses on the teachers rather than you.  That way if someone comes in late they won’t interrupt you.  Some possibilities are a questionnaire, small talk about the conference, or questions to get to know the teachers.
  • Visuals.  Conferences can be grueling.  Sitting in classrooms for 6 or 8 hours a day can be tough.  So make your presentation eye catching.  Power Point, posters, worksheets, the board, books, and realia can all be used during your presentation.  If appropriate you can also add sound, such as music, listenings, etc.
  • Limit your info.  Most teachers use Power Point when giving a presentation.  Remember to limit the amount of information that you put on your slides.  Rather than sentences, use words or phrases.  This will prevent you from reading the slide and the other teachers from spending all their time copying the info rather than listening to you.
  • Proof-read and Edit.  Sure, everyone makes mistakes, but you don’t want to make any in front of 20 other teachers.
  • Practice.  Don’t think that you can go into your presentation cold.  You’re going to have to practice beforehand.  Ask a friend if you can give them the presentation.  They might have some suggestions for you as well.
  • Slow down.  When people get nervous, they tend to talk quickly.  Make sure you speak slowly.
  • Involve the audience.  Simply listening to someone for an hour or an hour and a half can get boring.  So get your audience involved.  Asking their opinions, for suggestions, telling a joke, having them discuss one of your points, or having them tell about some of their classroom experiences are all good ways to get them involved.
  • KISS.  Keep It Short and Simple.  Keep your sentences short and easy to understand.  And go for simplicity.  Rather than discussing many things, choose one topic.  Remember to keep your presentation focused.
  • Break it up.  Sitting in one spot and listening to one person can get really boring.  So break up your presentation.  Have the teachers do various activities, such as listen to you, talk to their neighbour, or individually brainstorm.
  • Move around.  While TPR isn’t necessary, getting your audience up and moving will help keep them focused.  Have them walk around the room and talk to a couple other teachers when you want them to discuss a point.  Or put topics in the corners of the room and have them go to the topic that interests them. Not only will they get their blood moving and stay awake, but they’ll also be able to meet other teachers.
  • Questions and suggestions.  Leave a couple minutes at the end for questions and suggestions.  If there are none, then give the teachers five minutes to relax before going onto their next workshop.
  • Sum up.  At the end of the presentation give a brief summary of the main points.
  • Provide your contact info.  As said above, going to a conference is a great way to network, so put your email on your last slide, on the board, or as a footnote on all your slides.
  • Bring your business cards.  You never know who you may run into at a conference.  Having a business card to hand out will show others that you’re a professional.
Written by Sharon De Hinojosa for TEFL.net November 2009
Sharon has lived and worked (mainly teaching English) in the US, Scotland, Spain, the Czech Republic, China, Korea, and Peru for the past five years. She has also taught short-term in Venezuela, China and Taiwan. Her work has been featured in Viva Travel Guides, Transitions Abroad, ELT World, and TEFL News. Sharon's own blog is TEFL Tips.

8 Comments

  • Hall Houston says:

    Great article! These are some excellent suggestions. I think the next time I do a workshop, I will read this over again.

  • Lily Senatirova says:

    Thanks a lot!Your tips helped me very much when I was preparing for a workshop.

  • neeraj lawania says:

    teaching should be on mobile

  • Bettina Molina says:

    Simple thoughts but very pragmatic and helpful. Good points that can be even used when teaching a conversation class to professional executives. Thank you, it took my attention. congratulations. Bettina

  • Ronaldo, Mongolia says:

    Thanks for the tips. It will help me a lot making my teachers’ trainings more active.

  • Johnny Martins says:

    most useful tips. i just wonder what kind of activity could “Have them walk around the room and talk to a couple other teachers when you want them to discuss a point.” long live and prosper!

  • Benbrahim says:

    Thanks for the tips,really helpful to keep in mind.
    Nicely presented.

  • Paul Jeffs says:

    An excellent piece of informative and practical writing full of useful tips and guidlines.

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