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Listen Up!: Keeping Your Audience in Mind

One of the services that the Local History Services Department offers is on-demand workshops. We work with local organizations to figure out which of our workshops they might want and how we can tweak the workshops to fit their needs. When I work with the local organizer to plan a workshop, I ask about the target audiences and develop activities that I hope will be beneficial to them.

Creating content and activities for all of my target audiences is one of the hardest parts of developing a workshop. I try to keep in mind that no one can be all things to all people. Keeping things balanced among different types of activities means that I have to consider balancing different types of interactions and managing attendee expectations.

I think about the learning goals of the workshop.
• What are the expected outcomes?
• What are the takeaways?
• What will the attendees have learned?

Then, I think about the best ways to achieve those outcomes and provide the takeaways.
• What types of interaction should there be?
• Should there be a lot of instructor-led discussion?
• Would small and/or large group interaction be helpful?
• What kinds of visual aids and activities would further the discussion and learning objectives?

As I consider these questions, I constantly remind myself of the target audiences, their needs and expectations.
• Are there multiple audiences attending the workshop?
• What kinds of institutions are the attendees involved with?
• What are their varying levels of experience and interest?
• What are their roles at their institutions?

I know that I won't be able to please everyone all of the time, but my goal is to engage everyone at some point during the workshop. The best way that I can do that is to always keep the audience in mind.

If you are interested in more information about audiences and audience engagement, the LHS Lending Resource Center is a great place to look. I also recommend checking out the U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts and Colleen Dillenschneider's blog Know Your Own Bone.

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