The best workshop ideas have the power to take your event to a whole new level of fun and engagement. But coming up with a great idea? That takes some creative thinking.

The truth is that attendees are tired of the conventional breakout session hosted inside a dusty old meeting room. They want unique, immersive, and engaging workshop experiences—and, as an event organizer, it’s on you to deliver. 

Need a little inspiration? You’re in the right place. Read on to learn more about creative workshop ideas that can enhance your audience’s learning experience. 

What is a workshop event?

Male speaker giving presentation in hall at university workshop event.

A workshop is a type of event that typically focuses on either discussing a specific workshop topic (particular to a niche or industry), mastering a new skill (such as time management), or obtaining a certification in a particular industry (like event planning). Generally, workshops are micro-sized activities that make a great addition to large-scale events and conferences. 

Workshops are immensely popular. In fact, according to American Express’s 2023 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, internal team building and training events are expected to see the largest increase in attendance in 2023. Here’s why: 

Workshop activities offer a different way to learn than your run-of-the-mill webinar. Using a hands-on technique, every participant can engage in the content and walk away having learned something new.

Plus, a successful workshop offers several other benefits:

Small group activities make for better networking opportunities

Workshop attendees want to make connections, especially at B2B and B2C events. If you limit your training workshop to a small group, you can more easily encourage networking between group members.

Workshops help you promote company culture

Internal team-building activities are a great idea for developing employee communication skills and other important abilities. They’re also an easy way to bring people together and foster your company’s culture through networking and direct interaction.

Activities inspire creative thinking

What do you get when you put all of your team members in one breakout room focused on the same goal? Creative ideas—the type that drives innovative and valuable business decisions. Simply put, workshops get people thinking about new ways to improve operations and deliver better results.

Workshops can help drive event revenue

If you’re a B2B or B2C event organizer, workshops provide an opportunity to interact with and educate prospects at a pivotal point in their customer journey. For instance, giving attendees hands-on experience with your product and/or brand can help inform their decision-making process and influence their buying behavior.

Interactive workshop events maximize engagement

The best workshop ideas give people a break from the ebb and flow of your event without actually taking them out of it. Attendees can experience something new and unexpected without losing interest in the overall event. 

Workshop ideas: 8 tips for hosting a successful event

1. Choose the best format for your attendees

Back view of male employee have online video call on laptop with diverse multiethnic colleagues

Like any type of event, workshops can be broken up into three formats:

  • In-person workshop events: This is the format most attendees know and love. It has the advantage of face-to-face interaction, which means workshop participants get to learn through hands-on experience and demonstrations.
  • Virtual workshop events: A fully virtual event is hosted entirely on an event management platform. Attendees tune into a live stream or join a small group breakout session, through which they participate in the training activity.
  • Hybrid workshop events: Hybrid workshops include both in-person and virtual elements to offer attendees options for how they participate.

The best format for you depends on your attendees’ needs. If you’re hosting a global audience, chances are a virtual workshop is your best bet. But, if you have the power to host attendees in person, there’s no replacing the power of hands-on instruction. Just note that your event technology requirements will vary for hybrid, virtual, and in-person workshops. 

2. Provide food and drinks 

Never overlook the power of a hungry stomach, which proves quite distracting for attendees and can negatively impact engagement. Keep your workshop attendees fueled, hydrated, and ready to go with some refreshments. 

Stick to the basics: breakfast and strong coffee never fail to pump up the audience. Also, make sure to provide lunch and a snack if your activity stretches into the afternoon. Depending on the workshop topic, you may even consider serving beer and wine. 

Pro tip: Don’t forget about your virtual event attendees. They’ll feel left out if their in-person counterparts are fed while they go hungry. Send remote group members snacks in advance or maybe a gift card to order food in their location.

3. Make workshops a component of larger events

People walking through floor of trade show event

Are you planning a large event such as a conference, summit, or trade show? Consider adding a few training workshops to your agenda. A training workshop is great as a standalone event, but it’s even more effective as a multi-touch event marketing tactic.

Workshops fill the void between primary sessions and give attendees more options as to how they spend their time at the event. Think about what types of training sessions your audience members would enjoy, then organize a selection to choose from. This ensures every participant has a workshop that speaks to their particular interests. You can even market certain workshop activities as an upgrade to the standard ticket to generate additional revenue. 

Pro tip: Generate excitement and drive more registrations by hosting a free interactive workshop ahead of the event. 

4. Offer a hands-on learning experience

Young creative team professional using post it notes in glass wall

Choose a workshop idea that lends itself to audience participation. We can’t stress enough how important it is to encourage engagement.

Simply put, attendees don’t sign up for workshops just to sit in a meeting room or tune into a live stream. They do enough of that already. Workshop participants want to interact with their instructors and get their hands dirty.

5. Leverage event sponsorships to your advantage

Sponsors are an event planner’s best friend. Not only can they help offset event costs, but they can also give your attendees extra value. 

For example, let’s say you’re planning a workshop about tree planting for members of a gardening society. You can enlist a local gardening center or big-box store to supply the trees, soil, and other necessary materials in exchange for brand exposure during the workshop.

Sponsors are also valuable because they may have access to high-profile guests and speakers you otherwise wouldn’t be able to book. With a sponsored workshop, you can invite big-name instructors and draw more attention to your event—a win-win situation for everyone involved. 

If you intend to use a mobile event app or event management platform, make sure the technology allows you to showcase sponsors prominently across your workshop. Look for a solution that can help you easily highlight your partners for everyone to see, such as through a sponsored page or virtual booth.
Looking for unique sponsorship ideas that delight? Check out the ultimate guide to event sponsorship in 2023.

6. Try tech-driven workshop activities

Event planners are constantly finding new and exciting ways to level up events with technology, and workshops are no different. Incorporating technology into your activity doesn’t just increase value and drive registrations, it also makes for a more interesting and interactive workshop.

Take virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), for instance. Companies are increasingly using VR to improve employee training and engage B2C and B2B audiences. VR-driven workshops immerse participants in the topic, whether it’s business related or not. For example, some event planners are hosting full-on product demonstrations entirely with VR technology so attendees learn how products would be used in a real-world scenario. Others use it just to take participants on a ride through a world they’ve never seen before while learning new skills in the process.

Outside of VR/AR, event platforms are helping workshop planners encourage audience participation in a different way. Using engagement tools such as live polling and Q&A sessions, attendees can voice their opinions and ask questions regardless of whether they’re in person or tuning in from home.

7. Gamify your workshop

Two people holding cell phones next to each other playing a game

Incentivizes friendly competition with event gamification. The activity’s rules and parameters are entirely up to you, but generally, group members compete to win prizes by completing tasks relative to the workshop topic.

With the help of a mobile event app, you can turn your workshop into a scavenger hunt, trivia contest, or any other game of your choosing. Just make sure you reward attendees for their effort with a worthy prize, such as free swag, a gift card, or something else you know they’ll appreciate. 

Whether you host an in-person, hybrid, or virtual event, all participants can jump in on the action through your mobile event app or event management platform.

See gamification in action: Check out how Resource and Financial Management Systems leveraged gamification to enhance software training and boost attendee engagement.

8. Give attendees a break with a mindfulness workshop

“Wellness” isn’t just a buzzword. In fact, it’s top of mind for so many organizations that hotels are even competing to offer wellness activities that entice companies to host their retreats and corporate events with them. 

With so much interest, consider hosting a mindfulness workshop at your next event. This special type of workshop comes in all shapes and sizes, but the point is always to help attendees rest, relax, and regroup. From yoga and meditation to work-life balance and stress management training, the possibilities are almost endless.

9. Break down networking barriers

Networking is often one of the leading reasons why audiences go to events in the first place. As an event organizer, you should make it a seamless experience, even during a workshop event.

Small group activities are an excellent way to get people to talk and interact with one another. However, encouraging networking during virtual workshops proves a bit more challenging. 

A mobile event app allows event organizers to break down barriers and overcome distance, ultimately helping attendees network with ease. If you have an event app with built-in attendee profiles, participants can quickly connect with each other through the dashboard and continue their conversations even after the workshop is over. 

10. Use an event management platform

Speaking of event technology, a truly end-to-end event management platform provides a single solution to manage your event whether hybrid, in-person, or virtual. A comprehensive event platform combines a mobile event app for fully in-person experiences with a virtual platform for hybrid and remote attendees.

Plus, event platforms can help you:

  • Manage ticketing and registration.
  • Host live streams and pre-recorded content.
  • Facilitate networking and connection.
  • Store agendas, maps, floorplans, and other materials in the cloud.
  • Power continuous engagement.
  • Collect pre- and post-event metrics.

With the right technology, your workshop ideas can go from good to great without skipping a beat.

Host fun and engaging workshop events with Webex Events

Webex Events is an end-to-end event management platform that comes fully equipped with leading engagement features, endless sponsorship opportunities, and full customization to help you power exciting workshop events, no matter the format.

Schedule a free demo to see how Webex Events can help you manage your next workshop event!