The day had been in the planning since early summer when my pal Antonia Taylor and I exchanged texts about how we know a few good women whose combined skills would make a bloody great workshop. Within a couple of weeks the project had taken on a life of its own, and we were working on brand names and logos.
Both of us have been to lots of workshops ourselves and have strong feelings on the value they can add, especially when you work alone or start something new. We also have ideas about how they can be done brilliantly.
Our goal was (is!) to deliver an event that was packed with valuable information. That was uplifting and would inspire people to take their business or project to the next level. That was warm and friendly and considered the needs of everyone in the room. And that served a very very good lunch.
Lesson 1: selling is HARD.
I don’t think either of us appreciated how daunting selling would be. The only thing I’ve sold tickets to before are events at my kids’ school. Then you can just use emotional blackmail. Flogging an event with your name on it (and for a not inconsiderable sum) left us feeling exposed and uncomfortable. Even though we totally backed the quality of what we were offering.
However, a good local network and respectable social media followings seemed to do the job. My advice to anyone launching something like this is to have a little patience and faith. The message will take a while to reach the right people, and some will take their time to commit. Ticket sales were slow steady but we sold out with 3 weeks to go.
Lesson 2: Facebook humble pie.
It turns out Facebook isn’t the ghost town I thought it was. When details of the workshop appeared on the Thames Lido’s very popular FB feed it was a marketing turning point. It was super effective for raising awareness locally. Facebook will always be part of our sales strategy in the future.
Lesson 4: presenting and organising is a tricky gig.
My job on the day was to speak about engaging your audience on Instagram. I feel that I was so preoccupied with other aspects of organising the day that I didn’t give this enough attention. It could have been tighter and better. I’ll try and get the balance right next time.
Lesson 5: we can trust our judgment on guest experts.
Both Lottie Stevenson on making films on your smartphone and Sarah Leach on tackling imposter syndrome were fabulous. Thank you both. Just think about all the skilled people you know, that’s what makes workshops wonderful. They allow you to dip into the knowledge of others and discover what floats your boat.
Lesson 5: The way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach
I think we pulled off a blinder with lunch, fully exceeding everyone’s expectations. Food at events can feel like a bit of an afterthought, but taking time to get it right will make people happy. We shared a beautiful veggie mezze and it was a pleasure to see everyone enjoy it.
We chose rice pudding for dessert. Big mistake. It seems people have strong feelings about rice pudding.
Lesson 6: family and friends rock.
So many people noticed what we were doing. And came. And helped. And sent their support. Nothing to say other than the most sincere THANK YOU.
And the final lesson: ending on a glass of prosecco is always a good idea.
If, like me, you are starting (or hoping) to do public speaking and presentations, or would simply like to raise your game, then have a listen to the wonderful new podcast series from journalist Viv Groskop, How To Own The Room. It’s a series of interviews for women about the art of public speaking and hears from amazing public figures such as Nigella Lawson and Mary Portas. I am drinking in every word.
Antonia and I have exciting plans to own the room in 2019, if you would like to join us then click here to visit the Elevate website and sign up for news of upcoming workshops.