Plan Engaging Workshops

Preparing for your workshop

In addition to your normal preparations for a workshop, we’re recommending you consider the following areas. Be sure to inform your attendees as soon as possible that you are hosting a digital workshop.

Expand your marketing

One of the benefits of hosting a digital workshop is that you have the option to market to a wider audience of attendees from outside your local community. Consider expanding your marketing outreach if you typically only advertise to members of your club, major, or school/university. These online events can become the starting point for folks to join your organizations more regularly in person once the outbreak is over. Here are some great resources for promoting webinars on different online platforms to get you started.

Pick and test your broadcast platform

MLH Localhost workshops are designed to be interactive presentations where participants can ask questions, work together, and troubleshoot problems. We recommend you use a video conferencing tool like Zoom to host your workshops. Depending on your number of attendees, other options like Google Meet, Discord, or Twitch might make more sense.

We are recommending Zoom because it seems to have the best bandwidth usage and features from the platforms we’ve tested. Upon scheduling your event, we will provide you with access to a premium Zoom account to use to host your workshop. These premium accounts will give you access to useful features like breakout rooms which are wonderful for one-on-one troubleshooting and pairing.

Whatever platform you choose, familiarize yourself with the controls before your workshop, so you don’t need to learn on the fly.

Hosting your workshop

Even more than normal, you should prompt your attendees for active participation. You’ll need to focus on keeping your participants engaged and active. We’re recommending starting with an icebreaker to ensure everyone knows each other. One of our favorite ice breakers is to ask each attendee to share their name, where they go to school, and something cool they learned about recently. You should also build time into your schedule to do breakout sessions, troubleshooting, and questions.

If possible, encourage folks to turn on their webcams so that everyone can see each other. There may be some attendees who don’t have the bandwidth to connect with video. That’s okay! You may even have some attendees who join without access to a computer. If so, consider asking someone to cast their desktop so folks can follow along or cast your own.

As you’re working through the workshop content, be extremely aware of how much more intimidating code reviews and questions will be for participants. Remind participants that if they’re facing an issue others probably are as well. You’ll have to ask them to share their screen to troubleshoot their issues.

After the workshop

When you finish the material in your presentation make sure to sign off and thank everyone for their participation. It may be fun to continue hanging out with attendees in the group chat. Consider working on other projects together.