I have conduced some workshops before, while I was in college, in TCS, in Act Lab. Some of them were on Engineering, some on etiquette, acting and so on. But yesterday was the first time that I myself organised and conducted a filmmaking workshop, for which I was paid.
The workshop was a success. What the audience gained in knowledge was worth a lot more than what than lost monetarily. It was almost 5 years of my studies, jam packed into a one day workshop. Everything went well from the slides, screen, sound, food, refreshments, timing and so on. I was very happy with what I was able to share.
The feedback we received were also positive; from the participants and my friends who I had planted in the room to give me critical feedback. But let’s not bake in its glory. Here are some major lessons I realised I need to focus on.
I ended up spending more money to conduct the workshop than I earned from it, because the marketing I did failed. Only 2 people turned up for a session for 20. Was it because of the title of ‘Low Budget Filmmaking’? Maybe my name as a filmmaker or instructor is not there yet. Did our Facebook Ads reach the wrong audience? Wasn’t the copy on the workshop page not good enough? Was it priced too high? All questions that need to be answered in due time.
Also we should have taken photos of everyone together. We could have used that in marketing for our later workshops. Besides the 2 participants, there were also my friends and team. So it was not like the room was empty.
Initially there were 4 who had paid and registered. But two of them had to back out at the last minute. How does one handle last minute cancellations? I have told them I’d refund the whole fees.
From a business standpoint, not only are we already at a loss, but will also loose their fees, and that of someone else who would have made use of the knowledge. From a human stand point, I would rather give back the full amount because I have not added them any value at all.
My presentation skills—in using my body and voice, techniques to keep the audience engaged—is something I really need to work on.
Which is why I recently joined Toastmasters. Not to become an inspiration or motivational speaker. But to give people the most value, to let them grasp the full depth of what I am sharing. It’s a life long process.
Improving Over Time
None of the great speakers we know of were ever great the minute they started. In Mahatma Gandhi’s My Experiments With Truth, I remember reading that he fainted the first time he went on stage. The number of participants for a Tony Robbins‘s session now runs in five figures, but when he did his first, it did not even have five people in it.
Nonetheless I am extremely happy with the workshop. Now I know for certain it delivers value. Moreover, if I can get two absolute strangers to pay for something I offered, then I only need to figure out how to scale that.
Over the years I know will improve and be able to share better. After all we are all on a journey, of moving towards our goals, learning from our mistakes.