I’ve been teaching workshops, training professionals, teaching college and providing in-depth programs to people for over 20 years. I’ve been a part of and certainly witnessed a whole lotta educational models and there are a few mistakes people make over and over. 

Let’s all do our due diligence if we are teaching, and learn the skills we need to learn so that everyone wins! I love seeing an educator knock it out of the park—it inspires me and makes me want to go to more of their classes. And it’s a bummer when I attend something that feels like a waste of time because the educator just doesn’t deliver. 

Here are the top 5 mistakes educators make:

1. They don’t treat teaching as a skill.

Expertise and the ability to teach it are two totally different things.

I had a teacher in college who made Greek Mythology boring. How do you do that? Because you don’t know how to teach. I mean, that’s gold. What a fascinating topic—and you put people to sleep? I know you know what I’m talking about.

If you are an educator and you have not developed teaching and presentation skills, they’re essential. Teaching is a skillset that requires learning and practice, like anything else. If you come unprepared and just “wing it,” you are not respecting your students and it shows. Learn HOW to teach. 

2. They fail to process effectively.

As the facilitator, it is your job to tie ideas together so your group really gets some key takeaways.

Without effective group processing, you do not ensure the learning.

It’s a skill to process an experiential learning activity so people can apply it to their lives. Effective processing takes it from an interesting talk to a transformational workshop. 

3. They have no clear structure.

Every workshop needs an arc and a clear design.

As the instructor, it’s essential that you build trust and a solid container that makes it possible for your participants to do what they came to do.

Oftentimes, workshoppers try to do way too much, or they don’t know what they want to get across, so they come off as disorganized and nobody wins. Always have a clear workshop design and structure so you know where you are going and how you are getting there. 

4. They have no clear goal or objectives.

You must know your objectives and your overall goal for your workshop.

It’s important to match activities to your objectives, not the other way around. Don’t do activities just because you like them—they all have to have a purpose.

There is a saying in filmmaking: “Kill your darlings.” Sometimes you have to let that great activity go because it just doesn’t meet your objectives and will be a waste of time. 

5. Too much or too little YOU.

Don’t forget that you know more about your topic than your participants do and they came to learn from you, so be sure to give them YOU.

You must share your expertise or they feel gypped. If you get lost in a great group discussion and forget to include some of your core teaching, your participants will be frustrated.

Then there is the opposite problem, where a presenter puts on “The Me Show.” They just talk at their group with no interactivity, and you can bet they will lose them pretty quickly. Don’t be that guy. 

For educators who are actually in it for the long-game and don’t want to burn out, there is a BONUS MISTAKE:

6. They leave money on the table.

If your approach is short-sighted and the end game is your workshop itself, you are not planning for the long game. You haven’t learned how to package what you do to increase opportunities for your clients to work more intensively with you. If your participants like you, there will be some ideal clients who will want to do more work with you. If you don’t deliver, you lose opportunities, and they lose the chance to work with you and transform.

Make it a win-win.