20 Impactful Workshop Event Ideas
Build relationships, provide real value, and help attendees achieve their most important goals with these workshop event ideas. Featuring examples from leading brands like Adobe, Facebook, LinkedIn, and many more.
Workshop events allow businesses to target a variety of specific audiences in order to gain or maintain their patronage quickly and effectively. These types of events are often used to convert B2B prospects by providing valuable or exclusive information, but workshops can also be used for internal trainings. Event success can be tracked, measured, and assessed with the help of a leading event software.
Each of the following examples includes at least one actionable takeaway you can apply to your next workshop event. You’ll even discover some training workshop ideas too. With each idea on this list, you’ll find new ways to market your event, find inspiration for activities to conduct, and explore techniques for improving event engagement at an interactive session.
Regardless of what your event goal may be, here are some unique workshop ideas for your next training event.
What is a workshop event?
A workshop event—often used in B2B event marketing strategies—is one or more educational lectures that give attendees hands-on experience with the subject matter. Workshop topics or themes are often specific to a certain industry or niche. The main draw for attendees is the potential to acquire a new skill and specialized knowledge through workshop activities they can apply to their day-to-day or future skill set.
Why is a workshop event valuable?
Workshop events are seen as high-value opportunities by attendees. This event type often plays a role in goal achievement for participants, meaning they want to attend workshops to fulfill a greater purpose, like certification courses or unique networking opportunities. Successful event marketing for workshops often under promise and over deliver, leaving attendees more than satisfied that they’ll have valuable takeaways for months or years to come.
Workshop Event Ideas
1. Offer workshops more than once.
Sometimes eager prospects have scheduling conflicts that keep them from signing up. Unlike galas or conferences, workshops are often simpler to recreate. Consider adding one or more iterations of the same workshop to your event line up.
B2B Next Workshops have quite a flexible schedule for attendees. All workshops are offered twice per day, accommodating participants with varying schedules and allowing them to take in every moment. If they wanted to, attendees could potentially sign up for all nine workshops offered without running into overlap.
2. Provide professional networking opportunities.
Another great reason for attendees to sign up for workshops is for the opportunity to meet with influential figures. Whether you plan a breakout session during the event or a cocktail hour afterwards, networking opportunities are a welcome bonus to any workshop event.
RespondOnDemand offers workshops that prioritize networking before, during, and after the event. Organizers bring together Greek tourism professionals and Dutch travel companies, allowing them to unite to boost both their audiences, thus encouraging attendees to kickstart the collaboration ideas previously outlined in the workshop.
3. Promote exclusivity.
Invite-only workshops cultivate an air of exclusivity around your event, making your next workshop all the more appealing to prospect attendees. A highly curated guest list also shows how much thought and care is being placed into the event. Getting this invitation will make your guests feel special and wonder what other interesting people they might get to meet at the workshop.
The World Tourism Event hosted a B2B and sustainability in travel workshop for a select number of VIP guests. Each participant was chosen based on their demonstrated level of interest in UNESCO. With this information in mind, planners were able to build a workshop that spoke to guests’ specific needs and interests.
Source: World Tourism Event
4. Teach a man (or anyone, really) to fish.
If you’re familiar with this saying, then you already know how important it is to teach the methodology behind a technique rather than just the task itself. By understanding the framework behind what they’re learning, attendees can then apply those basic principles to other tasks.
MIMA’s Content Marketing Workshop is a great example of this. Beyond asking attendees to write great marketing content, the workshop host walks participants through a successful content marketing strategy and explains why each step comprises a crucial component. Attendees receive real-world examples, templates, and hands-on exercises to round out their experience.
5. Connect businesses with customers.
In a similar fashion to networking, B2B businesses can provide clients with direct access to new leads or prospects by bringing together individuals in their network. Base your workshop on a common interest they share and coordinate scheduling so that businesses and potential customers have plenty of time to meet.
The premise behind Wine Pleasures: Buyer Meets Cellar, is to bring together boutique wine producers and serious wine importers. To facilitate personal discussions, the organizers behind Buyer Meets Cellar set up one-on-one business meetings between attendees according to mutual interests. Post-workshop networking events serve as an additional opportunity for attendees to expand their networks within the industry.
Source: Wine Pleasures
6. Add workshops to any conference.
If you’re hosting a conference or summit, consider implementing a few workshops into your schedule. Workshops serve to fill slow event times with high-value content, and as an event type, these are completely flexible to any space. This strategy works as part of a broader multi-touch event marketing plan, or the idea that a variation of event types can be strategically placed throughout the multi-touch funnel in order for each one to be most effective.
The Adobe Max Conference for instance, continuously hosts a “Community Pavilion” outside their main event. This space showcased a variety of vendors, interactive technology booths, and creative workshops for attendees to choose from.
7. Create public user profiles.
Using a dedicated networking platform or event app, workshop attendees can upload their business headshots, bios, and interests into a LinkedIn-esque website. From there, participants can easily message and interact with each other before and after the event. Bringing together like-minded people is a great goal, but helping them stay in touch after the workshop ends is an even more challenging task.
Nanotexnology 2019’s B2B Matchmaking Event lets attendees upload their own cooperation profiles. Through their system, users can request meetings and finalize agendas with help from event coordinators. Because their workshop participants are located all over the world, a dedicated communication tool helps overcome the barrier of costly international cell phone plans.
8. Create a workshop based on what’s trending.
Both time-sensitive and in high-demand, trending topics make great workshop fodder if you can pull one together before the next trend emerges. Look to Twitter and industry-specific blogs to find out what’s on the minds of your potential attendees. Then, bring in experts to help participants sort out the details of the trend, its expected forecast, and what it will mean for businesses.
B2B Marketing Exchange has an entire workshop lineup dedicated to solving hot button topics in the marketing world over the past year. All of their events are facilitated by top industry thought leaders, making them an attractive option regardless of whether or not participants want to learn more about the subject matter.
9. Provide one-of-a-kind resources.
One of the most important tools for any business regardless of their niche is real-world data and case studies. This information is often difficult to obtain. Hosting a workshop that offers these materials plus expert analysis on the given topics creates a truly unique experience for attendees and can easily be added to any of your corporate event ideas.
SmartCities’s Clean Air Through IoT Networks Workshop is dedicated to improving air quality with statistical data and examples of success stories they’ve personally witnessed. Part informational meeting, part brainstorm session, this workshop is a great example of just how important events of this kind can really be.
10. Explore new technology.
Not only is new technology incredibly interesting, it’s also a lot of fun to use. Give workshop attendees firsthand experience with gadgets and software not yet on the market or newly launched. Once they’ve had a chance to experience it for themselves you can use the workshop to further explain how these tools can be integrated with their business practices in the near future.
KneeVR’s Workshop on Virtual Reality in Healthcare helps professionals understand that VR is not just for gamers. Their workshop gives attendees a glimpse into the many practical uses for VR through speakers, inspiring cases, and live demos. Just one example of how VR can be use in live events.
11. Facilitate partnerships.
Partnerships are a popular way to increase reach and revenue for any business type. At partnership workshops, attendees with similar interests and business goals have an opportunity to meet through these industry-specific events. Knowing who to invite will largely depend on your larger business goals. For instance, if you're targeting specific accounts in a specific industry through an account-based event marketing strategy, you may want to bring in a specific partner. As you’ll see in this next example, there are lots of ways to facilitate interactions with this goal in mind.
The Euregional B2B Brokerage Workshop uses speed dating to help their entrepreneurs, SMEs, and institutions spark potential relationships. They also offer matchmaking services in the form of small-group workshops.
12. Teach current users how to get the most out of your products.
Your product or service can be the main theme for a series of workshop events. If your business is constantly updating or improving its offers, hosting educational workshops helps keep users engaged for the long term. Bonus points if you offer insider tips that will only be shared during the sessions.
Facebook’s Community Boost Workshops help businesses of all sizes grow their social media accounts through their platform. Attendees benefit from hands-on trainings, adjacent skill-building workshops, and activities that improve their overall creativity.
Source: Facebook Community Boost
13. Limit participation.
More is not always the merrier when it comes to workshops. In order to create a truly valuable experience, give your attendees the personal attention they deserve by planning for smaller group sizes.
Tourism Ireland’s Germany B2B Workshop limits participation to a total of 25 guests. Attendees are given the opportunity to meet and really get to know each other through this day-long workshop. Organizers include a mix of industry leaders and promising market newcomers to spice things up.
Source: Tourism Ireland
14. Answer their most burning questions.
No matter what profession you choose, they probably have a set of questions around their most challenging stumbling blocks that require advanced training. Workshops are a great way to give them the answers they so desire.
ImpactHub’s Sales Workshop keeps this fact in mind as they walk participants through their biggest pain points and present a variety of solutions, tools, and tips. They even invite a panel of experts to weigh in on the issues.
15. Offer mini-workshop sprints.
Sometimes a topic will be important enough to do a workshop on, but so specific that it doesn’t fit into the standard 1 hour to 90 minute session time we’re all so accustomed to. The good news is you can offer a series of niche interest workshops in 20-30 minutes sprints in a single day. Covering a lot of topics in a short amount of time will be extra appealing to attendees who can cherry pick the lessons most pertinent to them.
IRCE ‘s Search Workshop has an entire day dedicated to hyper-focused session topics. Their schedules includes a short kickoff, multiple 30 minutes sessions hosted back-to-back, and some breaks in between.
16. Make it quirky.
B2B workshops don’t have to be all business, all the time. Whether you choose a playful twist on a well known topic or bring a fresh perspective to an old issue, there are no limits to how creative you can get with your workshop topics.
Happy Dancing Turtle’s Sustainability Workshops have a delightful array of themes including an introduction to beekeeping, reiki 101, and a cooking class for all those weird plants you don’t know how to use. All of their workshops exist under one umbrella theme: sustainability. As long as they all have something in common, the sky’s the limit on what you can include in your workshop series.
Source: Happy Dancing Turtle
17. Target participants in various stages of your sales funnel.
Instead of telling your prospects how much you know about a topic, you can show them through a workshop. If you choose a specific need of theirs to address and combine that with an impactful set of tools, you’ll have a greater chance of converting them later on.
NASSCOM’s Deep Insights Workshop is mostly interested in improving brand awareness among top of funnel clients like entrepreneurs with a certain level of funding. They help answer the top two questions every customers in this category has at this stage of growth. This approach helps NASSCOM build lifelong relationships through their workshops.
18. Provide a free evaluation.
Sometimes it’s hard to determine the success of a business when you’re working inside of it. Businesses with lots of clients in a particular niche have a broader view on the industry. Based on observations from real customers over time, you may have a better idea of a company’s relative health than even they do.
The Place Berlin’s B2B Prospection Workshop offers a free diagnostic of each participant’s lead generation process and gives specific advice on how to make improvements. Attendees also enjoy lectures on broader topics so that they can get both big picture knowledge and personal recommendations from the same event.
19. Think big… and small.
Regardless of your current audience reach, workshops are an opportunity to introduce your brand to international or local markets. Whether you’re a small town company spreading its wings to other countries, or a globally recognized business reconnecting with its roots, there are lots of ways to target specific communities through workshops.
Hoteliers European Marketplace (HEM) 2019 caters to a niche audience: hoteliers in Europe. And although their name might imply they stick to a single region of the globe, the one-day B2B workshop invites international wholesalers, tour operators, and online intermediaries. In doing so they are helping their European clients reach newer markets and form partnerships they might not have otherwise had access to.
20. Host a digital workshop.
If there’s one thing we know by now, it’s that online versions of live events have the potential to be very successful. They’re highly measurable; you can track the number of views/participants and CTAs. They are also very accessible so audiences that are experiencing financial or physical difficulties aren’t excluded from joining the fun.
The LinkedIn Masterclass Series invites B2B marketers to participate in their interactive workshops with experts online. Through site analytics and direct customer feedback, they've developed an array of 60 minutes workshops with an optional 30 minute Q&A session. Live Streaming is also a great option for those interested in digital workshops.
Source: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions
Key Takeaways: Your Workshop Events
Along with these event marketing examples, here are some big ideas to keep in mind when planning your next business workshop:
- Make workshops fun by choosing cool themes and cutting edge tools and tips.
- Provide a high-value experience with useful extras and a curated guest list.
- Foster relationships between participants who can benefit from doing business with each other.
No matter what your event strategy is, focus on helping your attendees accomplish their goals and you can’t go wrong.