Sahra Santosha, aka @fairyqueen in the Support Driven Slack, presented a workshop at Support Driven Expo Europe in Belgrade, and the conference attendees gave glowing feedback about her session. One commented, “I want to be Sahra when I grow up!” I asked if she’d be willing to answer some questions about how she approached presenting the workshop to help others who would like to present at a Support Driven event in the future, and she graciously said yes. Enjoy! — Andrea Badgley
Hi Sahra! What was the name of your workshop, and what was the one thing attendees would be able to do after attending (the deliverable or takeaway)?
Bursting Up! Rapid Scaling Customer Support Teams. Scaling a support team quickly is hard. The workshop focused on strategy to help you 10x quickly without going insane.
Had you run workshops prior to SD Expo Europe?
Stage talks and panels yes, workshops no.
How did you make your presentation active for the audience instead of passive? In other words, how did you transform it from attendees just listening to you speak (like a traditional talk) to engaging them and making it interactive for the audience?
I interspersed it with activities and discussion topics. I worked with the person SD paired me with for feedback. She was really great! [Editor’s note: Sahra is referring to the workshop editor she was paired with as part of the speaker program]
What steps did you take or tools did you use to plan for the timing of different elements the workshop?
A spreadsheet in advance and a timer during.
What surprised you during the creation or presentation of your workshop?
IT WAS SO MUCH EASIER THAN A TALK. I did not have to create a full script for all the time I was allotted. There was no memorization. All I needed was an outline and a few slides.
What would you do the same if you presented a workshop again?
Discussions and exercises augmented the workshop instead of being the workshop.
What do you mean by this? Do mean that instead of it being 45 minutes of activity there was also presentation of material by you?
Yes. The workshops I was the most frustrated by were the ones where they had a lot of worksheets and most of the time was spent filling them out. I’m at a workshop because I want the presenter to guide me to new realizations and ways of doing things.
What would you do differently?
Choose a smaller, more targeted topic. 45 minutes is not a long time.
What advice do you have for workshop presenters at future Support Driven conferences?
Make sure the workshop is more than your handouts. Make sure the attendees are getting insights from you in addition to insights from each other.
Sahra Santosha is passionate about customer support, team culture, and puppies. She has worked with a number of high-growth startups including GitHub, Earnest, and is currently honored to be serving the support team at Babylist. She writes about Customer Support: Career, Community, and Culture on her site First Contact Resolve.