How to… run great workshops; switch to doing work you love; get testimonials and more — YYQ #13 Review!

Yes Yes Questions is my quarterly live advice column, that anyone can join for free. The questions I answered at the last one (and in this blog/recording), are:

1. When running a workshop, what are the most essential elements to make it brilliant?
2. Do I have to prepare before I speak on stage?
3. How do I brag about myself online without feeling like I need a shower afterwards?
4. Do you ever feel like you have too many stories to tell, and do you have a formalized process to choose which ones you tell?
5. “Content batching:” do you do it? If so, how?!
6. How do I go from doing work I don’t love that brings in money, to doing work I DO love that also brings in money?
7. What’s the best way to get testimonials from happy clients?

The next one is Monday April 6th at 2pm ET (11am PT / 7pm GMT/ 6am AET.) You can get all the details for how to come along and get free coaching by popping in your details here:

But in the meantime, listen to the audio of the last one (where I answer all those questions) here:

Or read on!

1. When running a workshop, what are the most essential elements to make it brilliant?

Almost all of the time, it depends on the audience. Before you start writing a (or even just running an already written) workshop, you need to know: what does your audience care about, what do they know about and what do they need?

Really specifically, there are four questions you can ask yourself, which I have handily written out, broken down, and then made a PDF of. YOU ARE WELCOME. Find them all here:

There’s also a TON more advice on great things to do in workshops on the audio of this answer, above.

2. Do I have to prepare before I speak on stage?

When I try to, I know whatever I prepare is completely irrelevant because I’ll stand in front of people and say whatever comes into my head in the moment. But not preparing feels like a lazy and unprofessional thing to do. Help!

I always procrastinate. It used to make me beat myself up (a LOT). Until I worked with the amazing Chela Davison, who suggested that maybe leaving things to the last minute is what works for me. And that, perhaps, I should plan to leave things until the last minute, because I’m going to anyway. So I may as well not torture myself for the months leading up to that.

When I did my big-deal WDS keynote: on the one hand, I would like to have been a bit less last-minute than I was. But on the other hand, I wonder if writing the talk so late and only practicing it in front of people a couple of times kept it fresh for me.

Jonathan “Good Life Project” Fields — a highly sought after speaker of great acclaim — almost always writes his talk on the plane on the way to the conference. Maybe something similar is just what works for you.

HOWEVER, there are other things you can do first:
Get clear on the audience and spend time researching them, exploring what they care about and what are the outcomes they want. And, if you could only give them one small piece is advice, what that is. Then, you can feel more prepared without having to write the talk. Aka, answer the questions I suggest you ask yourself before EVERY SINGLE TALK.

In conclusion, if it’s working for you, you don’t need to fix it too much!
(But as much as possible, watch/listen to your previous talks and learn from them).

3. How do I brag about myself online without feeling like I need a shower afterwards?

The people that seem to get the most attention and have audiences online also seem to have an ability to be egotistical without being embarrassed of themselves for being self-indulgent. I don’t think of those people that way, but how does one get over the “too-much”ness on this? Why should I think anyone would listen to me?

Re the being egotistical part: I helpfully wrote a blog about this, called “How (and Why) to Brag Online Without Sounding Like a Jerk — 6 Ideas”

Re the “Why should I think anyone would listen to me?” A few things:
(i) People always want to hear advice from other people. They just do. And yes, someone might have said it before to them. But they might happen to need to hear it at the exact moment YOU say it. Or in the exact way you say it. So say it.

(ii) When you’re being creative, the Beast inside your head is always going to be there. My hot tips are notice it, acknowledge it, then try to tune it out (more on how to do that HERE.)

(iii) Most importantly, think about at least one person that you know this will help and focus on that one person.

Accept that you may get some crappy comments and hate mail. Understand that if that’s the price you pay to help people, it’s worth it

(If you’re listening to the recording, the person who’s speaking whose instagram I say you should follow is Nick @epicdanger)

4. Do you ever feel like you have too many stories to tell, and do you have a formalized process to choose which ones you tell? Does the number of stories ever overwhelm you?

We ALL have too many stories to tell. But we don’t tell stories purely because of the volume of stories we have, we tell them for other reasons. So think about those reasons, and choose accordingly. How do you do that? By, once again, referring to my handy guide of Four Questions To Ask Before You Do ANYTHING public-facing:

If you feel like just picking one will leave the others to shrivel and die, remember that THIS IS NOT TRUE. You can always use them somewhere else. More on this in Marion Roach Smith’s EXCELLENT book “The Memoir Project”

Have a notebook (or note in your phone) of “Squirrels” — aka ideas that are trying to distract you. Every time you have another idea for a story, write in that book. Then you know it’s there and you can come back to it when you need ideas.
Get comfortable with the discomfort of not telling them all at once.

Where to start if you have no particular parameters? Ask yourself:
“Which story is bursting out of me the most?” That’s usually a good place to start.

5. “Content batching:” do you do it? If so, how?!

In theory, yes, I do it. In practice, I don’t very often because I’m not quite organized enough. But think it’s a great idea.

On the rare occasions I’ve tried, I have realized that I need to set up brain breaks (meeting someone for coffee; having a short phone call) while I do it. I’m not good at sticking to the same thing for hours. Also, I used to lock me out of all social media, The Guardian, BBC and CBC websites, and the Ask Polly advice column. And if you’d like more hot tips on how to keep yourself from getting distracted by the internet, I wrote 16 of them here:

6. How do I go from doing work I don’t love that brings in money, to doing work I DO love, which also brings in money?

Right now, I’m a copywriter and a marketing strategist…I work mostly with B2B clients and it makes money. But, there are days when I just dread, dread, dread it because I fell into it and can’t seem to get out of it (again, because of money). What I really want to do is book coaching and write my own stories. How do I get there and get out of this feeling of overwhelm that I’m stuck in my business?

People don’t typically switch from one form of income to another overnight.
Ask yourself (of the new service) “What is the smallest way I can test how to tell if people will pay for this?” Is it to do a few free (or cheap, “Beta price”) sessions?

Maybe carve out 2-3 hours a week where you can work with someone on this. MSH CHECK!
Get some testimonials if at all possible, if you’ve done any of this work before (unpaid is fine, people just want to know if you’ve done that!)

Send an email to all of your friends/family and ask if they know anyone who has the problem that you solve, ask for recommendations and say you are offering it at a beta price. How do you do this? Use the email template I wrote for you! Find it here:

7. What’s the best way to get testimonials from happy clients?

I usually send out surveys, but get only 1-2 back.

The BEST way, when possible is, if you have people in person, get them on camera while they’re there and feeling it
If you’re doing a recorded session online, if anyone says nice things to you, ask them afterwards if they are ok with you using it what they said as part of a testimonial.

After the fact? It’s about bribery and persistence. Add value when you ask — so rather than just pestering them with a request for feedback, do it in an email where you offer them a free resource. Even better, tell them you’ll give them the free resource after they leave the feedback!

When working one-on-one with people, in your last wrap-up email to them ask if they would take 3 mins to answer some questions, then send them some.


Do YOU have a burning question you think I can help answer? Then you’re in luck!

The next Yes Yes Questions call happens Monday April 6th at 2pm EST. To get all the details for how to join (for free!), pop your details in below:

(You’ll also get my easy guide on the Magic Bullet when it comes to captivating storytelling, and join the Yes Yes Family with free tips on how to Be Unforgettable. It’s free, and you can unsubscribe literally whenever you like)

Thank you so much for reading! If anyone you know has recently asked you one of these questions and you’d like to share my answer, you can do that using one of the round buttons below, or click HERE to share on Facebook. Which of these are you going to put into practice? Or do you have any additional advice for any of these questions? I’d love to hear it in the comments below.

You rule!

Xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

PS want to get all the details to join the next Yes Yes Questions, and get even more advice, plus secrets and stories I won’t put on the internet? Come and join the Yes Yes Family, for free, here:

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