Take Your Workshop Online-Part Two

You know your craft, you love to teach, and you even have chosen the platform you want for an online class.

What now? How can you make the best presentation?

Jennifer Rashleigh talks about her process

Get comfortable with your equipment and prepare for any challenges. This may seem obvious, but it is surprising how many people overlook this. Practice your presentations, record them and imagine you are a student when you watch your recording.

Check your lighting. No back lighting! If your using a cellphone to record, make sure it is set to horizontal (landscape). Have someone hold it for you or mount it at the right height in a dedicated holder.

Check your camera angle. If you will be opening your class by facing the camera to welcome the participants, be sure to line up the camera with your eyes. No one want to look up your nose when you are talking! And don’t get too close to your camera. The closer you get, the more distorted your face will look. Find your sweet spot and stick with it!

Test your audio and play it back. Consider getting a separate microphone, so that you can be heard and understood as you step away from your welcome screen to demonstrate your project. There’s nothing more annoying than watching a good demo with crummy sound. So test, test, test.

Hands are key! If you only have one webcam, you may want to prerecord close-up scenes of your hands actually doing the techniques you are demonstrating. Participants in an online class really appreciate the fact that camera angles allow them to see up close details they might not see in a classroom situation with other students crowding in. Make the most of this opportunity to show the techniques from various angles.

Have a clear plan for teaching. An old rule of thumb is “tell them what they are going to learn, teach them, and then tell them what they learned. Treat your session like a play with three acts. Welcome them with warm appreciation and enthusiasm. Teach them enthusiastically, as if they are right there with you. And wrap up with a quick recap and an invitation. An invitation for another workshop, to visit your website, to follow you on Instagram, to invite others. It’s your choice. But be sure to invite them to continue connecting with you.

Follow up. Keep track of your students, and them to your contact list, and even share them with SCA if that is appropriate. Send a follow-up email that reviews the lessons in the workshop. Offer them limited access (say two weeks) to the recording of the workshop. Show that you care. Ask for feedback and take it seriously if you get it.

And most of all, have fun!

Take Your Workshop Online!

Part 1 of a Two-Part Series

Looking for a way to expand your reach in these uncertain times?
Hosting an online workshop has a lot going for it!

Jill Law
Jill Law demonstrating abstract painting techniques in her studio

Why Take Your Workshop Online?

1. You can expand the size of your class, because you are not limited by the size of your studio.

2. You can expand your geographic reach, because people don’t have to live near enough to drive to your studio.

3. More people are interested in online classes right now, because more people are turning to the virtual world while they are unable to travel and resume their normal activities.

4. It is an excellent tool for promoting your art business

Choosing Your Workshop Platform

A pre-recorded workshop can be as simple as a demonstration recorded with your cellphone and posted to social media. But if you’re looking for more polish, there are platforms and software that are more professional, such as: Learnworlds, Captivate(Adobe), and Camtasia.

A live presentation is another option, though it does require a little more skill and confidence. There are no do-overs. No chance to edit out flubs. But there is a sense of immediacy and a chance to ask for responses from your students.

By now you are probably familiar with Zoom, the leading platform for online presentations. It has a free trial option, which is a great way to figure out if this is the platform for you. If you go for Zoom’s Pro Plan the cost is $14.99 a month, and includes easy group messaging features, admin control features like muting your students, plus the easy option to record your webinar for future use.

Google Hangouts is another option. It is a free platform that works best for small groups. It doesn’t have the options of Zoom, and all participants are required to have G-mail accounts, so it may limit your audience.

GoogleMeet has many more features than Hangouts, such as file and image sharing and users don’t need a G-mail account. Costs start at $6 a month.

GoToMeeting is an online meeting and video conference platform that has been around for a long time. It allows you to easily share documents, like materials lists, with all your attendees. It is easy to record and share your webinar. It is a robust and professional platform, but it works best on up-to-date computers. The cost is about $12 a month for their professional plan.

Next week we will bring you presentation tips for better online workshops.