Chapter I: Planning Your Workshop
In order to have a successful workshop it takes planning. Without taking care of the logistics. (e.g., speakers, materials and refreshments) it is difficult for the less tangible and more important aspects of a workshop to happen---such as having participants learn something new or letting participants feel supported and make connections with people who can help them.
This chapter spells out the basic steps in planning and putting on a workshop. These do not necessarily need to happen in the exact sequence set forth below, but are all important elements of a successful workshop and need to be considered.
You need to establish a core group of people to organize the workshop and get things done. For "Year of the Child Who Stutters" symposiums, planning committees varied by region but basically consisted of a key logistics coordinator, consumer members (parents and/or adults) and a speech-language professional member. They were responsible for planning, implementation and contacting others who were willing to help. In addition there needs to be a workshop coordinator, a person or two (co-chairs) willing to serve as the key contact(s) to make sure assignments are made and tasks leading up to the event are completed. Ideas for putting together your planning committee and finding a workshop coordinator include:
contact your local (e.g., clinics)
contact your local, regional or national consumer group contact your local parent group or parent/teacher association contact your local public or private schools
The planning committee must examine the potential costs of putting on a workshop. These might include: refreshments; room fee; cost of development and printing of an outreach flyer; agenda; conference materials and media releases; speaker fee; honorariums or expenses; supplies such as name tags. flip chart, markers, and folders for workshop materials: and equipment rental (e.g., audio-visual equipment) for the speakers if needed. If you plan to have youth activities you may need additional monies to cover arts and crafts materials.
In some cases, you may be able to interest local organizations or foundations to fund your workshop or conference. However, there are a number of ways to pay for a workshop without having to secure foundation monies or expend an inordinate amount of time fund raising. The easiest way is to charge a reasonable registration fee, which covers expenses, including refreshments, materials and honorariums for speakers Local restaurants can often be approached for free donuts, bagels, sandwiches or drinks. Sponsoring organizations will often contribute toward minimal costs such as advertising or printing materials. Space can almost always be obtained for free. Finally, even the most respected speakers can usually be secured if you agree to cover their travel expenses or pay a small honorarium.
See Attachment A: Sample grant proposal for fund raising
Conference Agenda and Date
The next step is to pull together an agenda and date for the workshop. You will need to consider some key issues: What are the goals of the workshop? Who do you want to reach? What do you want participants to learn? What are your community needs? How long should the workshop be (e.g., halt day, full day or two day)? What time of year would draw the most people? Are there conflicts with other conferences or is it a particularly busy time of the year such as a holiday or beginning
of the school year? Depending on your audience, will there be better participant turnout on a weekend rather than a week day? You may want to do a written or telephone survey of key community members to explore potential topics and discuss the best dates.
The 'Year of the Child Who Stutters" symposiums were primarily one full day events held on a Saturday when children, teenagers and their parents and speech -language professionals could participate. Workshops lasted from 9:00 or 9:30 a.m. through 4:00 or 4:30 p.m. A typical agenda included the following: registration;
welcome and ice breaker; at least one or two substantive presentation(s) by a professional; and then smaller discussion groups of parents, consumers and professionals on a selected topic. The youth had separate activities throughout the day where they could talk about stuttering, meet other children and teens who stuttered and have fun and learn about themselves.
See Attachment B: Ideas for children and teenager activities
Securing a Location
Check out local clinics, universities, colleges, hospitals, public schools, churches or temples. Try to secure free space. As part of the planning process it is strongly recommended that the conference coordinator or someone on the planning committee visit possible workshop sites. Unless you have extra money, stay away from hotels if at all possible. These may seem attractive, but hotels will charge you. If anyplace requires liability insurance discuss this with the planning committee.
Make sure the room is big enough. Better too large than too small. If it will seat 50 people comfortably it is probably adequate for a local workshop. When deciding
upon a room specify the seating as "theater style" and request "break out rooms for small group discussions. "Break out" rooms can also be one large room divided into a number of sections for smaller group sessions.
Make sure the site is accessible to someone in a wheelchair. Can a wheelchair user get into the building, get through the doors and use the bathroom? In addition, ensure that participants can get to the conference site. Is it near public transportation or is there free parking available?
The "Year of the Child Who Stutters" symposiums were held at speech-hearing clinics, university speech-hearing clinics, public schools, hospital speech clinics and community colleges. These were great resources because space was free. In addition, collaborating with a local speech clinic or university speech clinic proved effective in gaining both participation from consumers in the speech-hearing clinic and volunteer assistance from local professionals and speech-language students.
The professional speakers at the "Year of the Child Who Stutters" symposiums were drawn from the Special Interest Division on Fluency & Fluency Disorders of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Parent and consumer speakers came primarily from the local community. Depending on the topic and where you are located. respected speakers may well be available in your local community. Check with your local clinic, university, or a non-profit organization regarding who may be interested and who makes a good speaker.
Many times speakers will be willing to provide their time for free if their expenses are paid or they think they will receive some good publicity from the workshop. It is best to have someone familiar with the potential speaker approach him/her well in advance of the workshop date to request his/her participation. Be clear about how long the event will be what you expect the speaker to cover and how many participants you expect to attend.
Once the speaker agrees to attend, ask about materials and offer to make copies for distribution. Also, ask the presenter if s/he needs any additional materials such as video equipment, overhead or flip chart.
Send a confirming letter thanking the individual for agreeing to participate and provide clear information about the workshop including times, topic, and directions on how to get there. Call a few days before the event to remind the speaker about the workshop and make sure that materials and presenter aids are in order.
Using a strong core of volunteers can help make your workshop run smoothly. Volunteers can come from either the parent/consumer community or professional community particularly students. At the "Year of the Child who Stutters" symposiums we had a number of speech-language students who helped with all aspects of the workshop, from registration to running youth activities. In addition, using adults who stutter was very important aspect of the 'Year of the Child who Stutters" symposium. Children who stutter and their parents need to have role models that demonstrate that one can live a productive life despite his or her stuttering. Some parents have fears that their child will grow up and not be able to get a job. Having adults present conveys the message that they did not let their stuttering getin the way of their life and gives children and parents hope for the future. Using role models can be applied to other types of workshops as well, such as, workshops dealing with other types of disabilities or health concerns or any other minority group with unique experiences and advice to share.