Skip to content

Writing, Workshops, and Talks

Some notes on presenting ideas.

Workshops and talks

  • Social
    • Connect everyone by showing shared experiences, especially struggles and failures.
    • Work in groups and pairs.
    • Use pair share / teach back activities, have accountability buddies.
  • Physical
    • Get them moving. Use activities like show of hands, walk around the room.
    • Have breaks that involved leaving the table.
    • Link concepts with movements to increase recall and attention.
  • Positive
    • Have a physical environment that’s not classroom-like.
    • Promote empathy, kindness, perspective, compassion.
    • Use love and charm, not guilt and blame. Positive emotions greatly improve learning (and negative ones hinder).
  • Structured
    • Have something to complete or fill in.
    • Frame it. Have an agenda, outline, overview.
    • Pull the whole thing together with a narrative.
  • Practical
    • Show how to get started with small wins that stack up and lead to big ones.
    • Do the work. Tell learners to bring their stuff.
    • Provide a toolkit with clear, actionable, steps.
    • Practice different techniques and choosing the best fit.
  • Short
    • Keep it simple and prioritise. What’s the key message or concept?
    • Make small but meaningful milestones. Find the short-term reward linked to the long-term benefit.
    • Do warm-ups, easier or softer, stuff before the difficult stuff.
  • High energy
    • Have a strong opening.
    • Have a strong peak.
    • Have a strong closing.
  • Flexible
    • Vary type and length of activities, senses used.
    • Have a responsive curriculum (modular, chosen by learner).
    • Recognise and accept diversity.
  • Concrete
    • Have integrity: be the example.
    • Use concrete examples to help focus. Look at good examples and analyse why they’re good.
    • Use images to make it more memorable. Use metaphors to make connections.
  • Entrenched
    • Make it repeatable, regular, ritual.
    • Help them establish habits.
    • Make concrete plans. Use WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan) or 5Ws and 1H.
  • Accessible
    • Share (shortened) links early, or in advance
    • Mind your language: sexism, ableism, swearing, weird references
    • Speak the alt text of content images
    • Distribute accessible slides, maybe a transcript or article


  • A shared responsibility
    • Understand that complex, systemic, changes are needed for the big problems. They tend to be from multiple, large scale, long-term, structural causes (rather than individual bad actors).
    • Focus outward, on future actions (rather than (only) inwards, on past blame and guilt)
    • Promote helpful co-operation (rather getting squirming defensiveness from blaming)
  • Nudging
    • Use anchoring.
    • Use loss aversion.
    • Use availability bias.
    • Use mere measurement effect (ask, for details).
    • Positive Injunctive > Negative Informational.
  • Emotional
    • Use an emotional argument. Entertain and excite to overcome indifference, disinterest, apathy.
    • Use human-scale stats or vivid details. Show a big, emotional, display of the problem. Bring reality into the room.
    • Show before and after to motivate the change.
  • Empathetic
    • Understand why the change is difficult and frustrating. It takes time and needs supports.
    • Understand both sides. The pros and cons.
    • Make the change sufficiently alluring.
  • Questioning
    • Ask questions rather than give answers. Provide a curiosity gap.
    • Let people draw their own conclusions, discover the answers themselves.
    • Promote a growth mindset, not a fixed mindset.
  • Identity-based
    • Connect to the past and the familiar, things and truths they already know.
    • Highlight the values and beliefs that make it important, since they guide behaviour.
    • Find things that are widely relevant, not locally specific.
  • Looped
    • Frame changes as experiments (that are safe to fail).
    • Focus on effort and progress (not ability or setbacks)
    • → (Re)trial → Feedback → Reflection ↵
    • Use Spaced Retrieval to make it stick
  • Relevant
    • Put the why before the what.
    • Have clear, meaningful, relevant, goals.
    • Have outcomes-based actions with observable impact.


  • Article structure
    • Summary at the top
    • Images
    • Credit where it’s due
    • Bullet recap at the bottom
  • Article content
    • Teach something you learned
    • Take people behind the scenes
    • Have a clear takeaway
    • Have a call to action
    • Answer “why?”

Related: big picture ideas (for writing, workshops, and talks).

Workshop closing activities

For Now

  • What will you do?
  • When will you do it?
  • Where will you do it?
  • Who will be involved?
  • How will you do it?
  • Why do this?

Write a sentence starting with “I will…”

For Now Now

  • How likely are you to do this? Give it a score out of 10. 1/10 = Nope. 10/10 = Very yes.
    • No judgement! Be realistic.
  • Why isn’t your score lower?
  • Is there something small you can do to make your score higher?

For Later

  • Small steps
    Focus on progress
  • Accountability Buddy
    Check-in with them regularly
  • Try an Action Trigger
    Have an “If This, Then That” plan