How to Grow Your Client Base With Workshops, Part 2

In this part 2 discussion of how to grow your practice with workshops, I’ll go over how to teach workshops and how to effectively follow up after the workshop. (If you haven’t read part 1 yet, click here to do that first.  This post will make a lot more sense to you if you read Part 1 first.)

To recap, in Part 1 we discussed why you want to do workshops and how you can go about setting them up.

Now that you have a workshop set up, it’s time to deliver a memorable experience and follow up with participants in a helpful way.

“In your marketing, you need to educate, entertain and execute.”

– Billy Gene Shaw

So, you’ve networked and gotten warm intros, and you’ve got a workshop or two set up. Now comes the fun part: you get to actually teach it. Remember these three things: Educate, Entertain and Execute.

The best presenter I’ve ever seen is Kelly Starrett. Not in the traditional style like a Steve Jobs. His style is more raw and in your face. I’ve never seen him use a PowerPoint or any sort of visual aid on a screen. Give the man an empty gym, a white board and two days. In those two days he’ll change the way people see the world around them in regards to movement, rehab and strength/conditioning.

I’ve had a chance to watch him teach a lot. (To start working with the MobilityWOD team as an instructor, I had to participate in a half dozen courses as an assistant.) Kelly’s content would be roughly the same for each, but the way he presented it changed based on the area and population he was teaching. I took notes not only on the content I needed to memorize, but also some of the subtle things he did that made him such a dynamic speaker.

Between the hundreds of hours I’ve spent with Kelly and the other hundreds of hours I’ve spent as an instructor myself, I’ve taken away a few key points to being a dynamic speaker. This will help you run effective, fun and memorable workshops that will help you get patients and grow your business.

KEY 1: You have to entertain people…but you’re not a stand-up comedian.

We all know people who are just funny. They are quick-witted and seem to always know the right thing to say. We also know people who think they are funny and constantly tell jokes or try to make others laugh. Which person do you think you should be more like when you present?

When you present, you want to make sure you’re memorable. You don’t want silly, unrelated humor involved. An easy place to start is with comparisons of different types of people. I always love to show the example of a hyper-mobile person and a hypo-mobile person. It’s always funny and memorable for people to visually see the difference between people. Ask those same people to do a task that requires a decent amount of mobility and it becomes even more memorable.

Take for instance squatting with your feet together. This is something we believe people should be able to do, but you’d be surprised how few people can actually do it. If you teach a squat clinic or a foot/ankle clinic, compare two people squatting with their feet together. If you have one person with flexible ankles and one with tight ankles, the difference will be dramatic. People will laugh, but they will remember that you showed them, in a way that makes sense, how that lack of range of motion affects a position. They won’t remember you trying to tell a joke and screwing up the punch line.

KEY 2: No one knows more about what you’re presenting than you.

The cool thing with teaching workshops you develop is that you’ll know the material better than anyone there. When I was in my last year at Baylor, I had to defend the research that we did while I was in school. This was an intimidating task, in particular because I was given the role of answering all of the statistics questions. I barely passed statistics and I’m not the best with math in general. I voiced this concern to our research director and I’ll never forget what he told me. He said “Danny, you’ve been working on this for two years. There will literally be no one in the audience that knows more about this research than you.” That gave me a ton of confidence and I got through the research defense unscathed.

When you teach workshops or give any presentation, keep this in mind. The more confident you can be about your understanding of the material, the easier it will be for you to teach it. It’s all about mindset. A confident mindset leads to a successful workshop.

KEY 3: Command the room.

This can be a tough one for people, but it can make a huge difference. One thing I noticed when Kelly taught was that he always commanded the room’s attention. When he spoke, he would pause and make eye contact. I remember the first course I went to, he did this to me.

We were teaching at the Rogue Fitness Headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. He was giving the intro lecture for the Movement and Mobility Course he used to teach. Towards the end he paused and looked right at me. It felt like he looked at me and paused for 10 seconds. It honestly was probably two seconds but my heart started to race. In that two seconds, I didn’t know if he was going to ask me a question, tell me I was doing something wrong or tell me I had a stain on my shirt. After the pause and eye contact he moved on to finish his point.


First: You want to be confident. Not a fake confidence, but the real confidence that comes when you know exactly what you’re going to teach and that people are going to love it. The way you walk, interact with others, and set up for a workshop shows it. People have an innate ability to read body language. We can all tell when we see the body language of a confident person versus a non-confident person. You have to be confident to command a room.

Second: You have to force yourself to pause and make direct eye contact with people. I learned this at Rogue Fitness with Kelly and he even told me how important this was over that weekend. He said he intentionally looked at me and paused during the intro. We talked about the power of that and how it made me feel. It was like someone giving me the cheat codes to public speaking success. When you’re emphasizing an important point, make sure to pause longer than you think and make direct eye contact with people.

KEY 4: Tell stories.

People love stories. It’s something universal – from kids all the way to adults. We also remember stories much better than we remember anything else. Just think of the story I told you about Kelly and me teaching in Columbus. I could have told you some fact about the percentage improvement in audience engagement when you make eye contact and you probably wouldn’t remember it. You’ll be much more likely to remember pausing and making eye contact when you think about Kelly staring you down from across the room.

People at workshops love and respond really well to stories. This works even better if you can align a relevant story with the topic and audience. This may be something that you’ll have to spend some time thinking about before the workshop, but it makes a huge difference.

Let’s say I teach a lower back pain workshop at a local gym. I can talk about the mechanics of why it happens and teach some cool mobility/motor control drills. If I can add in a relevant story of a frustrated patient who had a transformation back to full activity level, I have a much deeper connection with that audience.


Intro/Inform on topic of the workshop…5-10 min
Teach a movement you’ll test and retest…5 min
Teach a technique…5 min
Do the technique…5 min

Retest…1-2 min
Teach a technique…5 min
Do the technique…5 min
Retest…1-2 min
Teach a technique…5 min
Do the technique…5 min
Retest…1-2 min
Wrap up/pitch…5 min
Answer questions afterward

At this point I’ve run well over 100 workshops.
We’ve tweaked this workshop flow multiple times and this is the one we’ve found to be the most consistent and repeatable.

There are a few key reasons why you want to set up your workshops like this:

The first is that people get bored easily. Think about the last time you went to a workshop or a clinic. If the person leading it talked for more than 10 minutes, you started to lose interest. The workshops you’ll remember the most are the ones that involve a lot of hands-on work.

You want to make sure you start by educating them on what they’re learning and why. After that you have to start getting people moving and interacting with each other.

I’ve found the most success with MobilityWOD style techniques. These can involve simple things like lacrosse balls or jump stretch bands. In particular, the lacrosse ball is something the attendees can leave with or easily get to do the exercises we go over on their own.

The second reason is this allows people to see changes during the workshop. These are called intra-session changes and can make the difference between someone raving about you or not.

Here’s an example: One of my favorite things to do is having people test and retest a forward bend. This one movement can be limited by a lot of things. I then have the attendees step on lacrosse ball and move it around under their foot for about one minute on each side. Then we retest the forward bend. I’ve seen people improve their forward bend by 6-12 inches just with this one drill. That is a powerful intra-session change.

Intra-session changes develop trust and position you as the subject matter expert. No one likes delayed gratification, but that’s what we are selling with physical therapy. It’s hard work, it can be uncomfortable, and it can take months to see true long-term changes. These intra-session changes give them a little win and, even better, they got that change by doing something to themselves. How empowering is that?

Last, you want to take the time to close the workshop and position yourself as someone who can help them.

When I first started I was terrible at finishing workshops. I would get nervous and basically just tell people thanks for coming tonight and if you have any questions I’ll hang around. I never took the opportunity to effectively pitch myself or my practice.

Now when I run workshops, the last 5 minutes is really effective and important.

First, you want to summarize what they learned and why it’s important. After that, I tell them that we’ll be emailing video links for the exercises we went over that night. This sets the stage for them looking forward to an email and opening it.

Next, I position our clinic as a solution to their problem. I talk about how we help people get back to the activities they love and know how to take care of themselves long term. I bring back a relevant patient story I used in the workshop.

Finally, I transition people not to booking a visit but to talking with me afterward. I’ve tested this and we get a significantly higher conversion percentage when people talk to us about their individual problems afterward. Make sure you let people know you’re going to stay to answer everyone’s questions. It’s also important to let them know the questions don’t have to be about them. It can be about their kid, spouse or parent.

The amount of questions you get after a workshop is a direct reflection of how well you were able to connect with people during that event. I’ve had some workshops where I’ve stayed for an hour afterward just answering questions. We get a lot of new patients from workshops like that. If you only have one or two people come up to you afterward, you’re probably not going to get a ton of new patients from that workshop. Something was off. It could have been the content, delivery or message. You have to keep practicing and tracking how successful these events are.

If you can get these workshops nailed down, it can be a tremendous tool to helping you build and grow your practice.

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