The Zen Art of Creating a Workbook


The Zen Art of Creating a Workbook

There are many skills that go into running a workshop and making sure your clients get great results.

Whether it’s presentation, engagement, room management or more. But one aspect that’s often overlooked is the workbook. I enjoy creating workbooks. I find it fairly straightforward and simple. And, my workbooks are often very short.

People I’ve worked with or collaborated with in the past have handed me a workbook that’s a dense thicket of words. It feels more like a car manual than a workshop aid. I open it up, and my eyes glaze over. I don’t have time to read all of that and pay attention in a workshop.

There’s an amazing wealth of information in these workbooks, don’t get me wrong. But when it comes to having people in the room learning from you, there are a few things to consider:

Are you letting fear create your workbooks?

While there are many reasons that people feel like they should stuff their workbooks full of information, one I think is fear. Fear that as a facilitator you won’t give them enough value. A chunky workbook can feel more valuable, can help you feel like the price point of your workshop is justified. A chunky workbook can help cover things you miss or mistakes you might make. Ultimately, it’s a crutch for a facilitator.

Put that all aside. You know your material. You’re the expert. You don’t need a chunky information-filled workbook to justify your worth or your position as a facilitator.

Supplement but don’t distract.

When you’re standing in front of the room teaching, you want people to be paying attention to you and to be present in the moment. You want them to listen and participate. A great workbook doesn’t distract your clients from that experience.

Workbooks that are overflowing with information can actually be a distraction; people thumb through them, reading, skipping ahead, zoning out. If it feels like everything is already written down for them, they may not feel like they need to pay attention. They can just go home and read the workbook, right?

So, whenever you’re thinking about adding something into your workbook, ask yourself – could this distract my participants?

Provide opportunities for clients to retain information.

My ideal workbooks are full of opportunities for clients to actively record the information they’re learning. Because I use visual models, my workbooks are almost always just blank versions of my models for people to fill out themselves as we work through the content.

This is a great way for them to actually take the information that they’re hearing and seeing from me and to recreate it themselves. I find that they are far more likely to retain the information of a visual model than a list of bullet points.

When you’re creating your next workbook, focus on providing a space for activities instead of information dumping.

Less is more.

More information isn’t very useful for your clients. Think about teaching simple things powerfully. People are more likely to retain and implement something that is simple and easy to remember.

So, I’d love to know, what do you think is the best style of workbook for a workshop? Let’s chat in the comments below.

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