If you have ever been assigned the task of planning a seminar for your company or association then you probably know firsthand how stressful the task can be. However if you know the subject matter well and develop a good seminar planning checklist you will be on your way to organizing a successful seminar.
Planning Tip 1 – Location
We’ve all heard the saying – location, location, location. While that’s often used to refer to a successful business location, it’s also a key part of a successful seminar planning checklist. Think about seminars that you have attended in the past. Where there are any that you wanted to attend but you were restricted because of where the seminar was located? Think about your audience and where they will be coming from. For example, if your seminar is expecting to attract out-of-town guests then it would be wise to look for location near the airport, or a location that has plenty of parking available for driving guests.
Seminar Planning Tip 2 – Timing
The timing is another crucial component to seminar planning. If you know the likes and dislikes of your potential attendees than you already have an upper hand. If you don’t it’s not a bad idea to talk to other people in your industry that have been involved with seminar planning. Ask them if there are any particular days or times that have contributed to more successful seminars that they have organized. Also don’t just assume that the seminar needs to be from 9 to 5. If you don’t have enough material to last eight hours you will begin to lose people by mid-afternoon. It’s hard enough as it is to keep people motivated and attentive in that 3 PM time. Make sure you schedule enough breaks, and offer enough variety to keep people interested.
Seminar Planning Tip 3 – Flow
For this seminar planning tip begin by trying to visualize how the seminar itself will unfold. Think about the registration area and whether or not you are providing ample space for registration line-ups and picking up seminar materials. If you don’t have the luxury of a large foyer and the seminar material will be the same for all attendees then consider placing the material inside the seminar room. It’s also important to look at the presenters schedule and make sure that you are providing enough variety to keep the attendees engaged. Of course breaks and refreshments are a crucial part of the seminar planning flow.
Seminar Planning Tip 4 – Set up
Of the many seminar setups available, theater style is probably one of the most economical. However think about what it is you’re attendees will be required to do during the seminar. If there is a workbook that will require them to take notes then the theater style may not be the most comfortable set up. Do you expect your attendees to engage each other? Do you need an area where attendees can ask questions to a panel? Will you be breaking the group up into smaller groups? These are all important questions that you need to ask. There is not one way to set up for a seminar. The set up literally depends on what will happen during your seminar.
Seminar Planning Tip 5 – Communication
Like pretty much every event, communication is key to its success. Usually the communication process will cover things such as; getting the word out to potential attendees , sending reminders to those already registered, and provide periodic updates before the seminar. These are a few important communication steps. Don’t assume that once someone has registered for a seminar that they will automatically attend. Today people are easily distracted. Plus it’s always recommended to give people a few teasers along the way. Seminar planning checklists should include a good communications schedule. You may have been lucky enough to secure a keynote speaker that is a crowd drawer. Consider a teaser as part of your marketing process. This is where you can pique peoples interest by telling them to stay tuned for a very important announcement on your keynote speaker. Then use the announcement e-mail as another incentive to get people to register.
Great seminars require great seminar planning. Before you begin the process you need to develop a comprehensive seminar planning checklist. Breaking the checklist into sections will help you organize, schedule and delegate the various tasks required. By taking the time up front to put together a seminar planning checklist you will be setting the course for a successful seminar. Your next one will become that much easier to execute.