My Most Awkward Workshop Ever (and How it Paved the Way for More Success)

I used to think there was nothing worse than presenting a workshop and having no one show up. But, alas, I was wrong about that…

I’ve presented dozens of workshops over the years as a way to attract new clients into my coaching business. Before each one, I spend hours scripting out the workshop content, preparing the visuals, and marketing it. It’s no small feat. My Type A personality is tirelessly whipping the workshop into shape, ensuring that no stone is left unturned—that I’ve practiced, prepared, and practiced somemore.

So I used to think that after doing ALL this work, it would feel so awful (i.e. sad and pathetic) if no one came to the workshop….if I was left waiting in an empty room next to my blank sign up sheet like a pound puppy.

But what I discovered is that having no one show up to your workshop isn’t truly the worst case scenario…

It’s actually not that bad to have no one show up to your workshop. In fact, it’s quite easy to pack your things up and walk out without anyone noticing. Kinda like farting when you’re alone — it’s no big deal because there’s no audience there to judge you.

But what does feel sad and pathetic is to have only ONE person show up to your workshop.

Ah yes, the one-person-workshop. Uno audience member. Solo participant.

This happened to me several years ago when I was a health coach. I was presenting a workshop series at my high school alma mater for parents and friends of the school. I had spent countless hours preparing for this particular wellness workshop because the people who’d registered had actually paid for it and I was eager for it to go off without a hitch.

The clock hands in the room clicked into the 6pm start position like a flight controller signaling everything is ready for take off. It’s go time.

I looked around. Crickets. The room was empty. The sign in sheet was blank.

Five minutes pass. I’m feeling calm. I can just pack up my stuff and leave pretty soon, right?

Five more minutes pass. Just as I was letting out an exhale of relief and getting ready to cut my losses, one woman comes bustling in.

Damn it.

The doors close and we’re ready for take off. There’s no way I can get off now.

What do I do? I can’t present my workshop and Powerpoint as I’ve prepared it for just one person. That would be like performing a full-length Broadway play for a single ticket holder. But I also can’t cancel the entire thing because she’d already paid for it. Damn it, damn it, damn it.

I was in a sad and pathetic state of workshop limbo.

Not wanting to go down in flames, I had to improvise. What I ended up doing was giving a condensed version of the workshop while sitting side-by-side with my solo participant.

Describing it as “awkward” would be an understatement. She was trying to be polite about the whole situation. I was trying to remain professional and upbeat. Yet, we were so obviously uncomfortable and eager to rip off this Bandaid of a workshop. It was one of those painful business moments that’s difficult to forget.

Okay, so why am I sharing this with you? How will my uber awkward workshop story help you grow your coaching business?

Well, here’s the deal…

The #1 thing that prevents us from building the thriving and successful coaching businesses that we want is FEAR.

We’re afraid of rejection. Afraid of failure. Afraid of hearing “no.” Afraid of uncomfortable situations. Afraid of not knowing enough. Afraid of no one showing up. Afraid of no one caring. Afraid of not being taken seriously. Afraid of presenting a super awkward workshop with one participant.

So that means we DON’T set up a workshop. We don’t attend the next networking event. We don’t send out our email newsletter. We don’t reach out to prospects. We don’t post on social media. We don’t put ourselves out there. We don’t ask for the sale.

Only by NOT doing these things can we keep fear at bay and remain safe.

But the truth is that you can’t be safe and successful at the same time. It’s not possible. You’re going to have to choose one.

For me, I made the choice years ago to be successful. But this choice doesn’t look pretty and shiny and perfect like we think it should. Instead, it looks like awkward workshops, lots of rejection, and one failure after another. It’s uncomfortable. It’s tough. And it’s ugly. Yet, the payoff is much, much higher.

SO…do you want to be safe? Or do you want to be successful? It’s your choice.

If you choose the former, just keep procrastinating and binge watching Netflix shows and you’ll be all set.

But if you choose the latter, it’s time to conquer your fear by taking ACTION. Action is the only cure for fear. And it’s the only path you can take towards achieving success.

Let me ask you…what’s the #1 ACTION you can take this week to move your business forward? What have you been delaying on doing? What has fear held you back from accomplishing? What have you been avoiding so that you don’t have to risk failure? Now is the time to do it.

The secret to achieving long-term success is to realize that rarely will anything truly bad happen when you face your fears and take action to grow your business. You aren’t going to die. Or lose your home. Or break up with your significant other. Or go into debt. Or go to jail. Or turn to stone.

The only thing that you’re actually risking is feeling uncomfortable, awkward, or rejected. But are those feelings really so bad that you spend year after year avoiding them at all costs? Are they really worth putting your dreams on hold for? Are those feelings truly that scary?

Since that one awkward workshop, I’ve presented other workshops to hundreds of people. But the only way for me to do this was by not allowing these types of “bad” experiences shove me back into my safe comfort zone.

Sure, “safety” and “comfort” might feel good NOW…but I guarantee they’re not going to feel that great in 5, 10, or 20 years when you’re wondering where you went wrong and why you haven’t reached the level of success that you desire.

Only when you’re willing to risk being uncomfortable, suffer through a few awkward experiences (which you can later turn into blog posts), and okay with jumping back on the horse every time you fall off, then you’re officially on the path towards success.

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