Karissa received high praise for her workshop at Support Driven, with one attendee saying, “The best session so far… Great examples and greats tips for us who need this help. Real GREAT session.” I wanted to understand more about how Karissa made her workshop so effective, and I asked her more about her process. Her experience may help future workshop presenters! — Andrea

What was the name of your workshop, and what was the one thing attendees would be able to do after attending?

Documentation Station: Blowing your Mind with Keeping your Users in Mind

After leaving this workshop, the idea was that all the attendees would be able to review their documentation, find things to change during the crucial user journey when they need support and understand how to present the changes to stakeholder to get the buy in needed from those in director positions.

Had you run workshops prior to SD Expo Europe?

This was my first workshop as well as first full talk. I got a taste for it last year at the Write the Docs Prague conference with a impromptu lightning talk. As soon as I was done, I knew I needed to start the conference circuit.

How did you make your presentation active for the audience instead of passive so that it was interactive for the audience?

Making the workshop active was a challenge for me. I wasn’t sure in the beginning how to make my story/journey with this problem our company had a learning and interactive experience. At first I was convinced that there was no way to do work on this within the workshop, but after talking to my mentor, it was clear that everyone was there to learn and get work done.

I didn’t need to be afraid to make my attendees work. I made everyone group up and critique each other’s documentation based on the criteria I had given through the workshop. I was for sure a risky move in case there were some people who didn’t take criticism well, however, everyone who left that talk were chatting how they realized things within their own Knowledge Base that they never knew was an issue. Taking risks does pay off.

What steps did you take or tools did you use to plan for the timing of different elements the workshop?

I used the Presenter View within Google Slides to keep track of the time it took me to go through each slide. I also wrote my notes of what I wanted to cover within the presenter view, just in case I got stuck during the actual presentation.

SD has a great excel spreadsheet to keep track of your time during the presentation. I’d recommend using this at the end of your presentation creation process. This way you are able to focus on getting the content down rather than worrying about the time it will take to present as you create the slides. “Okay” or “Not the best” content can always be removed. It is a lot harder to add “Great” content when all your slides have been created.

What surprised you during the creation or presentation of your workshop?

I was originally worried that I wasn’t going to have enough content to take up the time, but you’d be surprised how much you can talk about if it is a topic you are passionate about. Also, don’t underestimate the power of the “work” time. If you are running ahead, don’t freak out. You can add extra “work” time for the attendees. They’ll love it.

What would you do the same if you presented a workshop again?

I’d keep my slides the same for sure and continue the amount of interaction I had with the attendees. They were able to bring great questions that everyone benefited from (even me) and start amazing conversation topics for after the workshop. It was hard for me to actually leave the room at the end because of all the conversations starting afterwards.

What would you do differently?

Be more relaxed. I was for sure a little nervous, but immediately after I finished, I knew what I wanted to change and wanted to get back up there again for another go! I am hyper aware of filler words I use like “um” or “so” and know I can always improve the way I “improv” some of my presentation.

What advice do you have for workshop presenters at future Support Driven conferences?

Present your presentation again and again and again. I read it outloud as I would present it three times and then did a mock one with a few of my co-works, that way, I could get some feedback right away of what was unclear and what could be improved. I’m sure this seems really obvious but do as many run throughs as you possible can, especially if it is your first speaking gig.


Karissa has worked as a Support Specialist at Hotjar for the past two years. During her time there, she has managed to completely uproot the existing Knowledge Base and customise it based on the user’s needs. Her daily tasks can be summed up by “fighting for the user, always”. You can find her in the Support Driven Slack @Karissa.

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