Planning and carrying out a successful and informative seminar event takes a lot of organisation, time and most importantly forward planning. There are a number of actions you should consider when organising a seminar to ensure it’s a successful one.
Before the Event
1. Plan in Advance
If you’re planning on running a seminar regularly, perhaps every month or every quarter, it would be beneficial to plan these out in advance. Pick a date that works for everyone involved and get this scheduled in your calendar. Choose your venue and get this booked early to avoid it not being available. Pick a relevant topic that is likely to attract a varied audience and if possible, create your title, this way you can start creating content in advance.
2. Advertise Your Event Early
Get the seminar advertised as early as possible. Create a link to a sign-up page on your website and advertise it on all social media portals. Send out an email invitation to current and potential clients. It’s important to be selective when it comes to who you are going to invite. Quantity does not always mean quality. Instead of sending a generic email to your whole contact list, personalise your email and send it individually to each person – perhaps follow this up with a phone call later in the week? From previous experience you have a higher chance of your contact opening your email and signing up if you take the more personal approach (after all we all like to feel special)!
3. Plan and Create
Create your content. Decide on how long you would like the seminar to run for, if you are going to break it up with refreshments in the middle and remember to leave yourself time for questions at the end of your presentation. A common mistake is to load your seminar slides with ALL your information so you end up with 20 or so slides packed with text that your audience ends up squinting to read on the projector screen. Your slides should be an overview on what you are discussing. They should be eye catching and interesting but should not steal the focus from what you are saying. Include a relevant image and bullet points on what you are discussing. No matter how experienced you are at public speaking it is always beneficial to run through your seminar with someone before the main event to pick up any issues or spelling mistakes within your slides and also to ensure your delivery is as polished as possible. Confidence is key!
4. Don’t Fall Foul of Technology
It may seem an obvious point but ensure that your presentation is backed up on your laptop and saved on a memory stick. Modern day technology is a wonderful thing but it can always go wrong and if your laptop does decide to give up on you on the morning of your presentation, at least you’ll have a backup. Make yourself a checklist that includes every bit of technical equipment you’ll need for the day - including spare batteries for your mouse (I’m speaking from experience)!
5.Sort out Name Badges
Once you have a list of everyone that’s attending your seminar create name badges for them. Include their place of work as well as their name. This way your guests don’t have to repeat themselves over and over with the typical “Hi my name is…and I work for…” when talking to other attendees. If you are handing out worksheets or feedback forms you can create and print these at the same time as your name badges as you now know how many people to expect (but always print a few extra though, as you never know who may turn up out of the blue).
6. Send Reminders
It’s always a good idea to send a reminder email the day before the event. A lot of the people you have invited may run their own businesses and therefore are probably extremely busy so it can’t harm to send a gentle reminder detailing the venue, start and end time.
During the Seminar
7. Be a Good Host
You should have arrived in plenty of time to be able to set up the room so that when your guests start arriving you can be there to welcome them, give them their name badge and make them a nice cup of tea. Networking is an integral part of running a successful seminar and it’s paramount that everything is already organised by the time your guests arrive so that you’re available for socialising and answering any burning questions that can’t wait until after your presentation!
8. Spread some Merchandising Around
Generally people like to take notes at seminars and usually people will bring their own writing equipment but it’s always a nice touch to put some pens and paper out on tables. Ideally this merchandise will be branded and your guests can take them away with them. This is just another small way of reminding your guests about your seminar after the event has taken place.
9. Timekeeping is Key
Remember that these people are busy and have more than likely taken time out of their hectic schedule to come and listen to what you have to say so make sure you start on time. Try and keep to time during your presentation and don’t veer off topic of you can help it. I know that sometimes this is easier said than done but if you have run your presentation previously you should have a feel for if you are keeping to time and more importantly to topic.
10. Build Leads but Don’t be a Pushy Seller
Make sure your presentation doesn’t come across too salesy. Yes, you might have set the whole seminar up with a goal in mind: be it lead nurturing or lead generation. However, you should give away enough information so the attendees leave with a feeling they’ve taken away something useful and actionable. The general rule is to leave the pitch to the very end of your presentation. Make sure your final slide contains a subtle call to action and your contact details, including the references to your social media accounts.
11. Prepare for Q&A
After you’ve finished your presentation (hopefully to plenty of cheers and claps) you will have the opportunity to answer any questions. Answer these in as much detail as possible remembering that these people are here to gain knowledge from you so for them the opportunity to ask specific questions could be the most beneficial part of the day.
After the Event
12. Send Out Your Seminar Slides
If possible it’s always a nice touch to send the slides from your presentation to all attendees and ideally you’ll do this either on the day of or the day after the seminar. Attach them to an email thanking them for attending and offer them the opportunity to get in touch if they have any questions.
13. Ask for Feedback
If you gave out feedback forms then take some time to read through these to see if there were any areas that your guests thought you could improve your seminar. If so then make a note of these changes and put them in place in readiness for your next seminar. If you have specific praise from some attendees then why not mention this on your social media. If you’re not already connected with the specific person via social media this could be a nice way to do so. Send them a tweet thanking them for their kind feedback and let them know you’re looking forward to seeing them at your next seminar.
14. Update your Website and Social Media
Don’t forget to update your website. If you’ve created a sign-up page, then update it with the date of your next seminar if you already know it. Remove any information from your email signature if you updated it and use your social media to promote your successful seminar. It’s nice to let your followers know that you’re doing well and are actively promoting your business by running a monthly event.
To conclude: preparation is key! Practise makes perfect but by writing yourself a detailed checklist that includes many of the above points you can’t go far wrong. After every event regardless of how well you felt it went it would be beneficial to open your checklist, read through it, mentally tick off each point to ensure you did it and update it with anything you may have missed. Planning and running a successful seminar is an ongoing process but by taking time to prepare you’re giving yourself the best chance of succeeding!