067: Three things you should know about doing a live workshop series

Recently, I conducted a three-part live workshop series (90 minute each) called “Host Your Course”. I enjoyed doing it very much but also learned some important lessons. I’ve decided in which scenarios I would use a live workshop method and in which scenarios I’d rather use the online course method. I share all of that in this blog article to help you in your business when it comes to creating paid information products.

Three Lessons I learnt from doing a live workshop series

lessons learnt live workshops vs online courses

I will break down my top 3 lessons for you but before I dive into it, a word on why I chose a live workshop method.

Four Types of Online Teaching Methods

When it comes to creating a paid information product online that teaches something to your students, you have a multitude of options:

1. You can create an ebook/PDF
2. You can create an audio course
3. You can create an online course that includes video, audio and PDFs
4. You can do a live online workshop

The Live Workshop Method (and why I like it)

The Live workshop method entails setting up a workshop online using one of the many conferencing platforms such as GoToWebinar, Crowdcast or Zoom which is my preference). These are affiliate links.

You set up a live session, send over the video call link to your students via email or place it on a course home and then, at the set date and time, you do the live training. My live workshops include both a slide presentation as well as a live demo on the Squarespace platform. I love Zoom because it allows me to record the presentation with ease and do screenshares without going into a crazy picture in picture mode (like it happened to me when using Crowdcast). Zoom also saves me a copy of the chat interaction so after the workshop is over I have the chance to review any questions or comments from my students.

Good for the instructor: I really enjoy the live workshop method because I get instant feedback from my students while I am teaching something. I get to learn at what parts during the workshop a question came up for my students. This way I can improve my presentation, clarify the message or demonstrate the skill better. It is a great learning tool for me as an instructor to refine my material and teaching style by listening to my students’ questions and needs during the workshop.

Good for the student: This style is enjoyed by the students for the instant feedback aspect as well. They join the session live from anywhere in the world as long as they have good internet access and they can ask questions via video (optional) or in the chat box. While I am showing something on the backend of my Squarespace site or a demo site, they can ask a question to clarify something and right away get the answer instead of having to move through the material with lingering questions in their mind.

This method has worked very well for my 90-minute interactive live workshop, Squarespace Fundamentals which I have been holding several times a month since May of 2018. So I decided to use the same method for my 3 part live workshop series Host Your Course as well. And here’s what I found:

The obstacles I ran into when hosting three live sessions of Host Your Course

Because I enjoy the live interactive format as the instructor for Squarespace Fundamentals, I decided to use it for my larger training Host Your Course as well. It was a good thing that I gave the live workshop method a try but when I launch this course again, it will be in a different format (I explain why below).

When I held the three-part live workshop series, I ran into these obstacles:

Obstacle #1 The microphone (despite being a brand new one) had a glitch that showed up only in the recording. The audio kept repeating certain phrases during the entire training which doesn’t make for a good user experience. I couldn’t fix this as I found out only after the session was over. I have to go back and redo the entire session for my students so they can have a good recording to watch later on.

Obstacle #2 Because the live trainings happen on a specific date and time, any emergencies or calendar conflict would derail the workshop. In my case, I had double booked on the third and final session. I had to pre-pone the workshop but that means if students can’t make the new date, it’s not fair to them as they committed to the date I had initially announced. I learned from this experience that doing live sessions demands a lot from me and if there’s any emergency or an scheduling conflict, I will run into further issues.

Obstacle #3 I ran out of time in one of my 90 minute session while didn’t have enough material to fit one of the other 90 minute sessions. Because I was doing this three-part live workshop by following a theme, I divided up the three sessions by topic, not realizing that in practice, demonstrating the first part would take more than 90 minutes. On the other hand, one topic took up only 30 minutes. So this was out of proportion and not quite a smooth process as I’d like to have. Of course, I could have planned this better and done some test runs to find out I had only 30 minutes of content but I didn’t do it and now I learn from it.

3 Learning lessons from the live workshop series method experience

So although the live workshop method is great for a one-off 90 minute training like Squarespace Fundamentals, it doesn’t work for a longer training like Host Your Course that is spread over three weeks as it didn’t allow me room for fixing tech issues, for dealing with life and business emergencies or errors (like double booking), and for harmonizing the amount of content that can be taught in each session. The online course method (with pre-recorded content) is what I’ve decided to go with when I launch Host Your Course next time.

The Online Course method is great because:

1. Tech problems can be fixed easily: If a microphone fails or I run into other tech issues, I can simply go back and fix it. When the content is pre-recorded I can check the tech with great fluidity and correct any issues, before the content goes live. This is much better user-experience and better for the learning experience for my students.

2. It’s more forgiving when running into emergencies or scheduling conflict: If I have to take care of something out of the blue one afternoon while preparing the recorded materials, I can easily move my schedule into the evening or the next day. This is not something I can do when I have a pre-determined time and date for a live workshop. Doing an online course with content that’s pre-recorded gives the most flexibility when you also have other responsibilities that suddenly want your full attention (parents with little kids know this well).

3. It allows for better content planning: When I have the content recorded, I can have as many lessons as needed within each module to cover the points I want to cover. If one module has 3 lessons and another has 5, it’s not an issue at all. The content is still arranged by topic and has greater cohesiveness than what I experienced in a live workshop mode where one session had only 30 minutes of content, for example.

My biggest lesson ⎯⎯ Be kind to yourself

In summary: I hope that when you think of turning your knowledge and skills into a paid information product, you will consider my experience in hosting live workshop series. The live format is great of a one-off 90 minute trainings but an online course with recorded material works well for a more in-depth training.

In the end, it’s important to try things out, reflect and learn from it and give yourself a break. Don’t be too hard on yourself when things don’t go smoothly or as planned - that’s life and all we can do is be kind to ourselves, learn from our experience and give it another shot. :-)

Your Turn:

Chime in your thoughts in the comments on what approach you’ve used and what you will consider for your next online information product. I’d love to hear from you!

Free Live Training

Want to learn about what options you have when hosting an online course on Squarespace? Then come to my free live training. You will learn:

✔︎ the 3 benefits of hosting your course on Squarespace,
✔︎ visual examples of course page layouts you can design inside Squarespace,
✔︎ the 7 things you need to have before you can sell your online course and
✔︎ how you can leverage your Squarespace site and save time & money.  

Hello! Glad to Meet You!

Squarespace Authorized Trainer

I am Sophia - the person behind this website. My intention is to provide useful content that helps solopreneurs, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations to build trust with their audience, grow the number of beloved fans as well as happy clients. I'm a Squarespace Authorized Trainer and a Certified ConvertKit Expert.

I love helping people through producing my weekly video tutorials and blogs, live workshops and online courses. Also, I work directly with clients in all aspects of content and email marketing strategy + implementation as well as designing high-converting Squarespace websites. Let me know in the comments if you've got a question and I'd be happy to help.