How to Host a Profitable Educational Workshop
Profit Center: Consider the benefits of hosting a workshop, and learn what it takes in terms of planning and marketing.
Hosting an educational workshop is an excellent way to raise your profile as an expert in a health and fitness specialty while providing a great additional revenue stream for your business. The teaching experience can also help you refine your theoretical and practical skills while providing attendees with valuable knowledge and information.
Why Host a Workshop?
Hosting an educational workshop offers several benefits:
- Making money. If you garner more revenue from attendees than you spend setting up and marketing your workshop, you make a profit.
- Diversifying your schedule. If you regularly see clients during the week, you can run your workshops on the weekend, making it possible to accommodate this revenue stream.
- Expanding your network. Attendees might become part of your network of health and fitness professionals. This can be a valuable resource for your business, particularly if you require staff or want to create a referral system for clients.
Those attending your workshop benefit in these ways:
- Expert guidance. Attendees acquire in-depth knowledge and gain experience from an industry expert. Such expertise is usually in a specialized area where the teacher has a proven track record of success with his or her own clients.
- Hands-on experience. Attendees can ask you specific questions regarding information they may have heard about the topic of your workshop.
How Can I Host a Workshop?
Once you’ve determined you would like to host a workshop, there are many things to consider before the big day.
Choosing a Topic
Decide on a workshop topic that is relevant to your area of expertise and that you feel competent to teach (see the sidebar “Topic Selection Tips”).
Once you have chosen the topic for your program, you will need to decide how long it should last. Typically, educational workshops last anywhere from a half-day to several days. The subject matter, the level of commitment required by you and the attendees, and the financial commitment your attendees are willing to make will help you decide on your program duration. For example, as a provider of corrective-exercise education for health and fitness professionals, The BioMechanics Method offers several workshops of varying duration to meet potential markets’ needs. Programs that delve deep into complicated concepts, like advanced assessment and corrective-exercise techniques, last a week. Workshops on fundamental corrective-exercise concepts require just a single day.
Determining the duration of your workshop will also help you design the outline you will need to obtain CEC approval and market the event. Remember that workshops of longer duration often involve supplemental costs for attendees (such as travel, room and board). Be sure to investigate how this may affect the feasibility of your workshop for your target market.
Figuring a Fee
When you have decided on the workshop topic and length, you will need to determine how much to charge each attendee. Duration, location, CEC application fees, CEC unit approval amount, advertising and administration costs, educational materials you provide to attendees, and your profile and ability as a teacher will factor into what you can charge. Each of these considerations will be discussed below to help you figure out an appropriate price for your workshop.
Selecting a Location
You need a location that fits your budget and meets topic requirements. For example, if you plan to conduct a sports performance workshop with lots of hands-on demonstrations and exercises, you will need a space big enough for attendees to practice these athletic movements. If your budget does not allow for renting a large space, you could consider conducting the theoretical portion of the workshop in a smaller location and then moving outside to a park or athletic field for the practical-experience segment. You might also approach a fitness facility to see if you could use one of its group-exercise rooms during a time of day when it is not occupied. To sweeten the deal for facility management—and potentially reduce rental fees—you could offer one or two complimentary registrations to facility staff. Also, many community organizations—such as Rotary clubs—offer access to conference rooms at a reduced cost.
Aside from venue, you will need to consider the geographic location of your event. To make a good profit, you must ensure that enough people in the area will be interested in your workshop and able to afford it. This may mean traveling to another city or region to maximize market coverage and program attendance.
Gaining CEC Approval
Although it can be a substantial added expense, consider applying for CEC approval for your event. Since most qualified professionals must obtain a certain number of CECs per year, a CEC-approved workshop can be more attractive to potential attendees. The added value can also allow you to charge heftier registration fees.
The CEC approvals process costs $150 to $300 per application or event, depending on the certifying agency. You can find the CEC provider requirements for specific agencies on the websites of major certification agencies (see the “CEC Agency Websites” sidebar for links). While on the websites for the certifying agencies, you can also research what other education providers charge for their workshops to help you establish a base price for your own offerings.
Marketing Your Workshop
There are many ways to market your workshop. A few ideas:
- Word of mouth. The least expensive option is to inform people personally about the event. You can do this by talking to clients and asking them to tell their friends and family, or by using social media avenues like Facebook or LinkedIn to send information to contacts.
- Email. You can also send out email notifications to your network of health and fitness professionals. Many of the certifying agencies that grant CEC approval for workshops will allow you to lease their substantial mailing lists for direct-marketing purposes in order to improve the potential exposure of your workshop.
- Press release. You can also contact local media or community organizations and/or send out press releases to announce your workshop.
- Advertising. You might consider advertising in health and fitness trade publications or at industry events. However, these options may be cost-prohibitive for most first-time workshop entrepreneurs.
Developing and Providing Handouts/Educational Materials
Providing educational handouts will help attendees get the most out of your workshop. If you have the time and expertise, you can create more in-depth reference and/or workshop materials, such as reference manuals, workbooks, client program or assessment tools, or DVDs. Creating your own materials can help you decrease your costs and increase the perceived value of the workshop. If you do not feel confident creating anything other than a handout, you can recommend educational resources or materials that attendees can purchase independently.
Considering All Angles
Several other factors require consideration:
Administration Costs. You will need to provide registration confirmations, receipts and any other workshop-specific materials or information for attendees. Automated event-marketing services such as those offered by Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com) may offer budget-friendly assistance with this aspect of your workshop.
Time Investment. Putting all the materials together, advertising, answering questions about the program and registering attendees takes time. It also takes time to answer follow-up emails and questions after the workshop is over. Make sure you factor in all the time needed—from presentation prep to postworkshop follow-up—when pricing your event.
Your Industry Standing. Your profile as an educator will influence how much attendees are willing to pay. If you are just starting out in the health and fitness industry or do not have a significant industry profile, consider keeping your workshop fees slightly lower than those charged by more well-known professionals, to entice people to sign up. As more people see you in action, your profile will rise, influencing what you can charge for subsequent events.
Polishing the Presentation
Once you have decided on the topic, length, location and cost of your workshop, it’s time to polish your presentation. Practice the key concepts you will highlight in your workshop, as well as any techniques and/or processes you will demonstrate or teach. Keep the language and demonstrations as uncomplicated as possible so each attendee understands how to apply the information to his own situation. It can be helpful to develop a PowerPoint presentation to highlight these key points. Once you are satisfied with the content, practice your production for willing friends and/or family.
The process of hosting a successful workshop becomes easier after your initial event. Subsequent workshops tend to require less time and money because the materials and systems you need to organize and operate them are already in place. As a result, profits increase.
The most important factor in ensuring workshop success is creating a personal, budget-conscious and hands-on experience that attendees cannot find elsewhere.
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SIDEBAR: Topic Selection Tips
Keep the subject matter of your workshops as specific as possible. This will let you showcase your specialty skills and allow you to advertise to very specific niche markets who know what they want and will pay accordingly.
For example, a company that specializes in providing exercise solutions for people in chronic pain could host a workshop such as “An Introduction to Corrective Exercise” to educate attendees on particular approaches to pain relief. Alternatively, an instructor or trainer with in-depth knowledge in designing training programs for pregnant women could host a workshop such as “Designing Safe and Fun Pre- and Postpartum Exercise Programs.”
SIDEBAR: CEC Agency WebsitesClick the following links for more information on each agency's CEC/U approval process:
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