Running a workshop
Running a workshop at a juggling festival is a fantastically rewarding experience.
It is a great way to meet new people and get your name known in the juggling community.
You are already good enough to teach a workshop
Don't think you need to be the best at something to run a workshop. Being able to explain your skill clearly is more important than being able to perform it.
If your workshop is for a common skill you will most likely be the best person there, because those that have already mastered it will choose to do something else. If it is an uncommon skill, someone better may turn up but they will do so because they want to meet you.
You can teach anything you like
Workshops are not limited to circus skills. Dance, music, crafts and games are also very popular subjects. BJC attendees are generally very curious people and are willing to try their hand at anything.
Tips for running a successful workshop
Plan ahead as much as possible. Write out a list of everything you want to teach before your workshop. Make sure you take the list with you and refer to it often.
Target your workshop at a specific level, don't try to cater for everyone. Otherwise experts will be bored with the stuff for beginners and beginners will be alienated by the expert stuff. If you can teach skills to different ability levels, run separate workshops for each level.
Don't try to do too much. Slots for workshops are usually an hour long, which will pass surprisingly quickly. If you try to rattle through 20 tricks within this time your pupils will not be able to keep up and will get frustrated. Focus on a small number of tricks that you can break down into smaller pieces.
If you are planning your workshop before the festival let the organisers know as soon as possible using the contact form or email address on the current festival website. You can offer to run a workshop at the festival but if you let the organisers know ahead of time you get to pick a timeslot convenient for you rather than having to fit yourself into the gaps. Plus your workshop will be published on the BJC website ahead of time so more people will know about it for longer.
Let the organisers know if you have any space requirements (such as a high ceiling, hard floor, quiet area). The workshop coordinator will do their best to find a suitable space so you don't have to.
You can also ask if there is any equipment that you could use such as a soundsystem or a blackboard. They will then be able to tell you what is available and what you will need to source for yourself.
Make sure you know where your workshop location is ahead of time. Visit it beforehand so that you know you can find it and to double check that it is suitable for your needs. Let the workshop coordinator know if you have any concerns, there may be other options.
Arrange for a friend to go with you. If you are nervous their presence alone will help you. Agree on secret hand signals for, 'speak louder' and 'talk slower'.
Turn up early to greet people as they come in. If people turn up to a workshop before the instructor they might wander off. Being there first also helps give you authority. Set yourself an alarm to remind you to be there well ahead of time.
At the beginning of the session:
- Introduce yourself by name.
- Say what the workshop is - people will accidently walk into the wrong workshop. Give them a chance to run to the correct workshop early. This is much less disruptive than them leaving halfway through a workshop they didn't intend to go to.
- Tell people your Q & A policy - do you want them to shout questions out on the fly, or save them until the end?
- Warn if any elements of your workshop are physically demanding or may otherwise risk someone with a back/knee/shoulder injury.
While being useful information to your pupils it also uses up a bit of time to allow people to turn up late without missing the workshop itself. Workshops overrun and workshop spaces may be a few minutes walk apart so there will always be stragglers. Never start a workshop early.
If your workshop is a physical one make sure you get everyone to do a gentle warm up before they do anything too strenuous. Don't let them cool down. If you need to do a long explanation of something, do it before or during the warm up, not after.
Do you have any more tips or advice? What was the best workshop you've ever been to? Help us improve this page.