In the live event space, there are often many different terms used to describe exactly what type of event is taking place. Think of ones you have attended or you’ve considered attending.. what terminology have you seen used?
You may see Workshop, Retreat, Conference, Seminar, or a handful of other names as the list goes on and on. With all the different words to mean different things, it can get a little confusing, right?
And remember- in the words of Donald Miller, “If you confuse, you lose.”
Thinking about which term to use when naming your event is really important for your future attendees to have the clarity they need to make the decision to attend! So, let’s take a look at the difference between retreats and workshops to find what would be the best fit for you and your business, based on the impact you want to create through a live event.
In the live event industry, the term “workshop” usually refers to an event that focuses on a specific skill or trade technique. Workshops tend to act as an intensive to learn about or take action on a chosen topic.
A workshop will usually be shorter than a retreat. Typically, a workshop could last between a few hours to a full day.
I often think of workshops as more teacher-driven. If you are the one hosting the workshop, you’ll be teaching through a specific skill or technique. For example, you might say, “Hey, I'm hosting a workshop where we're going to learn the best practices of Instagram Reels, and then you're going to go and create reels for the next 30 days.”
This type of content is driven by teaching, and you can clearly see what a workshop attendee would learn and take action on. In this example, they would walk away knowing the strategy behind being successful with Instagram Reels and how to plan and create their Reel content. A good workshop would even create time for the students to get hands-on and actually create some pieces of content so that there is very little for them to do when they get home.
Workshops will also tend to be at a more approachable price point. Think of an entry-level investment for new clients and customers and an opportunity to build trust and credibility with them.
- Lower risk level. Because you don't have to pull out as many bells and whistles, you can save on your upfront investment to see if people are even going to enjoy this type of content.
- Opportunity for volume. At a lower ticket rate, your event will be more accessible to more people, which is great if your goal is to widen your reach.
- Sharpen your teaching skills. You can use a workshop to fine-tune your speaking and facilitating skills. See what it's like to host a live event, being in front of your audience for an extended period of time.
- Gained experience. Even if your low-ticket workshop just breaks even after your venue and material costs, you can still consider the event a success. You gained experience, collected raving reviews, and were able to experiment if this offer is what your people want (and it didn’t cost you a thing)!
I consider a “retreat” to be more of a mix between the technical instruction that happens during a workshop and the getaway experience itself, all happening over a multi-day period.
Perhaps the venue is in an inspiring setting. Maybe there are next-level activities that you will have an opportunity to participate in that you wouldn't be able to at home. Everything is a little more inspiring, a little more empowering, a little more "extra."
Retreats are certainly a longer amount of time than workshops, which means more time for intimate conversations, community, and deep-diving into whatever you came to do as an attendee. Whether it's a business or personal retreat, it’s all about exploring opportunities and stepping out of the day-to-day hustle to devote some time and invest in yourself and your goals.
My personal goal when I host a retreat is to create a long-term transformation, something that is lasting well after the retreat wraps and the attendees leave. I do this using my Signature Retreat Trifecta of experience, content, and transformation. (More on this in my upcoming course, Invite & Delight- stay tuned!)
Pros to hosting a retreat:
- You witness the transformation. There is nothing like watching the transformation you hoped to happen to begin unfolding before your very eyes. It's so exciting to see the pieces click together for your attendees; to watch as they get the clarity or direction they had been hoping for, knowing they’re with people who will support them.
- A curated, intimate environment. When you're spending multiple days and nights together, the atmosphere is naturally going to feel more intimate. Walls come down. Your attendees will be invested and they’re going to show up for every moment and get the most out of the experience.
- Higher profits for your business. Retreats have an opportunity to be more profitable than workshops. If you can navigate the budget and upfront investment wisely, a retreat can also help your bottom line and yearly goals much more than a single workshop.
- Deepen trust with clients. You’re going to be able to spend more time with your clients than ever before, creating deeper connections that’ll leave them wanting to work with you again and again.
- Opportunity to build stamina (and accept help!) Hosting a retreat requires your energy supply to be full so you can pour out over the course of your time together. Committing to hosting an amazing experience will stretch you and offer you areas of growth, AND it will humble you and allow you to be intentional with the team members and support system you bring with you to make sure you are finding your key periods of rest.
Which is Best for Me?
After reading more about workshops and retreats, is there an event style that you are naturally guided to more than the other? Which sparks excitement and lights you up just thinking about it? Listen to your gut reaction- that feeling will help fuel you with the momentum you need to bring your event to life.
I would LOVE to hear what you are thinking! For real! Head over to my Instagram and let me know- are you Team Workshop or Team Retreat?
PS- if you’re looking for support in bringing all the pieces together for your next retreat or workshop, I’ve got a wonderful (and free) resource for you. My Retreat Planning Roadmap gives you the 8 steps you need to create, plan, and sell a retreat or live event experience for your business.