100 Tips On How To Run Your Own Seminar Business
If you are into Internet marketing, then you may have heard of the webinar. This is a digital alternative to meeting everyone in a brick and mortar facility: you will deliver a seminar over the Internet, and your guests or participants need only to watch and listen to you without having to leave the comfort of their homes.
Seminar business is big these days, in demand by the public such as organizations, associations, small and medium businesses, and so much more.
People trying so hard to climb the corporate ladder, hence, one must consistently improve themselves to achieve their ultimate goal. Every year, hundreds and thousands of people pay to attend seminars, workshop and training program to enhance their skills.
Some of them are sent to seminars by their companies, and some are willing to pay for themselves – for personal growth. Some of you may be looking for a breakthrough in life to by running your own seminar business, and some of you may be in the business but don’t know how to scale it up. Hereby, we provide you 100 tips on how to run your seminar business today!
#1: Know your industry.
To run a seminar business, you need to have knowledge about something which will benefit others. You need to understand yourself more. First, list down the things you know well or passionate about.
#2: Know yourself.
This is to make sure you have a smooth plan when you start your seminar business. By knowing your characteristics and personalities, you can identify your weaknesses and get the right people for your team that will make up where you’re lacking.
#3: Plan your startup cost.
You can’t dive straight into a seminar business without startup funds – you need money to make money. This shows the importance of staying ahead. The startup cost for a seminar business is lesser compared to any other business out there, it ranges from $5,000 to $25,000.
#4: Keep track of your cash flow.
Even though, you might not need a huge capital to start off with but you still need to keep track of your cash flow. I believe that you would want to know where your money is going towards the end of the day.
#5: Construct your product.
Now that you already know you area of expertise, you can start constructing the product. So how do you come up with a product? First and foremost, you need to know how your product can benefit others. It has to make an impact on a person’s life, for the better. Your product can be in any format: audio, video, document, and so much more.
#6: Experiencing writer’s block?
Sometimes you need to rest your mind by putting aside the product, and take a walk. Be curious about the things around you, ask questions until you get what you’re looking for. Reading is another way to get your inspiration back on your track. It can be any books you like, it doesn’t necessarily have to be related to the topic you working on.
#7: Do not let your attendees leave the room “hanging”.
Construct the flow of your presentation, have an opening then conclude with a strong call to action. Your content is the main ‘body’ of your message, make sure you convey your message with clarity, do not leave your attendees leaving the room with “hanging”, with lots of doubts and questions.
W.I.I.F.M. – What’s in it for me? Your attendees will only be attracted to the products if it relates to them. Always remember the W.I.I.F.M principle when you are figuring out a new product. Focus on the most pressing problem your attendees have and figure out a way to solve it – give them a helping hand.
#9: Focus on quality over quantity.
A successful speaker is defined by the quality of the presentation. Someone who doesn’t have much substance but conducts hundreds of seminar, that doesn’t prove he or she is a successful speaker. So keep in mind, always focus on quality over quantity.
Doing Your Research
#10: Know your buyer.
Marketing is one of the most important elements in running a successful seminar business. Know your buyer. This is closely related to how you construct your own product as well. You need to first know what is their biggest fear or frustrations, and then you can give them a solution in a form of a product. You need to exactly who are your targeted buyers.
#11: Conduct market research.
If you are uncertain about your buyers’ preference on what they’re looking for, conduct a market research! Market research is easy to conduct nowadays. Instead of getting people to fill in a survey form, standing under the hot sun, use online surveys instead. It’s really convenient and easy to reach out to your target group. Simply put all the questions into a list and send it online. With a few clicks, you can generate lots of data right away.
#12: Know your product.
Besides knowing your target market, you need to understand what you’re selling. Know your product and how it benefits others. Expand your product range. You must continuously keep up with the market trends from time to time to so that you’re always ahead of your competition.
#13: Decide your role as the speaker.
When you’re on stage, you are no longer the audience but the speaker. Decide what kind of role you’re playing on stage! It depends on your goals and what you want to achieve at the end of the seminar. Ask yourself: “What do I want the attendees to do during and after the presentation?”
#14: Run self-assessments.
When it comes to your products or presentation, always make assessments. For products, you can run an advertisement campaign to gauge the people’s reaction towards your offer. This way, you will know whether people like what you have to offer or not from the response you receive. Whereas, for your presentation itself, get feedbacks from your friends and family after the rehearsal.
Most marketers put a lot of effort in the packaging itself. You will be surprised to know how a clever packaging can boost the profits of a business. The packaging creates the first impression, which is extremely important because that’s when the person gets more curious and wants to know more about it. Just like how we perceive another person by their first impression.
#16: Choosing the location.
Your location is vital in deciding whether people will fill up your room or not. You need to choose a location that your target market is comfortable with. Of course, I know this is hard to cater to all your attendees, but choose a location wisely as it helps get the right people to your seminar.
#17: Decide your dream dates.
You will probably spend a great deal of time topic the right dates for your first seminar. Most people prefer to attend a seminar on weekdays – usually on a Tuesday, Wednesday, followed by Thursday. What you can do is look for few dates that fall on weekdays, call the location you’ve decided and ask for availability on that particular day.
#18: Understand the seminar business.
I know it sounds silly but you need to understand what a seminar business is all about before you start your own. You need to familiarize yourself with it until it becomes a part of you. Understand the seminar business; and do your homework before you get into it.
#19: Learn the art of marketing.
It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in, marketing is a must especially if you’re just starting out and it’s the same with the seminar business.
#20: Approach the organizers and seminar companies.
If you haven’t mastered the art of marketing, there’s another way to market your seminar. Contact seminar organizers and companies, do not worry much about it; they are the experts and they have done it many times before. They already have their contacts and years of experience to host a seminar event.
#21: Use Internet marketing and email.
If you are running low on budget, use internet marketing and email to approach your attendees. This is more affordable for starters than approaching organizers and seminar companies. In addition, low barrier to email, provides you faster and easier way to reach out to the attendees. From anytime and anywhere!
#22: Create your own connections!
It is a must for you to create your own connections in the seminar industry; who you know is everything when it comes to marketing. To do this, it takes time. You can build your own connections bit by bit from the seminars you’ve conducted or attended previously.
Planning & Logistics
#23: Plan ahead for the seminar.
It’s not easy to conduct a seminar; good planning is required to be successful. It involves logistics, such as the location of the seminar, attendees, and setting up the hall, and so much more to prepare before you conduct your seminar. It will take a couple of days to plan all this and always be prepared for the worst case scenario. Things can be very unpredictable.
#24: Make use of a checklist!
There are too many things to remember when you are preparing for a seminar, use a checklist to aid your memory. The human mind can only remember a couple of things at any one time, because there are lots of things happening every second in our daily lives. There’s no harm using a checklist to make sure everything runs smoothly according to your plan.
#25: Be prepared for changes.
Like I’ve mentioned before, things are unpredictable. You need to prepare for any changes in terms of the logistics and planning. So, always have a plan B if something goes wrong, something you don’t expect.
#26: Watch videos of seminar.
The more you watch how other speakers present on stage, the more you familiar you will be with the different techniques of presenting. Observe their verbal and non-verbal cues; this will surely help you to improve yourself. But, avoid being a copycat and have your own style instead.
#27: Prepare the back of the room.
This is especially important after you call your attendees into action by sending them to the back of your room. So what do you need to prepare? Display your books, training materials or DVDs if you have any. If you do not have any of those at the moment, prepare the registration forms for the upcoming program.
#28: Conduct free preview.
Give chance to the attendees to have a better understanding of your product, by conducting a free preview before the actual seminar. People are more likely to be attracted to free things. In the preview session, cover just one small part from your overall program. If they like what they see, they will come to the actual seminar.
#29: Preparation of handouts and goodies.
Calculate your budget for the whole seminar, and if there is room for handouts and goodies, then prepare earlier and send handouts to be printed. Think of a suitable goody that’s related to your products. So after the presentation, they will have something memorable about your product to bring home.
#30: Prepare pens beforehand.
Some of the attendees may want to take notes or draw in the handouts given for their own reference in the future, so please be considerate and prepare pens together with the handouts.
#31: Refreshments for attendees.
If your budget allows, prepare refreshment for the attendees after the seminar or in between the short breaks. After a long session with you in the seminar, your attendees probably would be feeling drained out. Refreshments will make them feel much better after the session has ended.
#32: Extra preparation for last minute attendees.
Keep in mind that some of the attendees might attend your seminar a bit later than stated, please be prepared to have extra handouts, goodies, pens and refreshments beforehand.
#33: Print out name tags.
For attendees who have already RSVP’d, print out the name tags and the name lists. At the registration counter itself, have your assistants to check with the attendees’ attendance and hand them their name tag and materials.
#34: Remind the hotel for confirmation one week ahead.
One week before the actual presentation, do not hesitate to make a phone call to the hotel for the confirmation. If there is a problem with the location, at least you still have one more week to get in touch with other hotels and execute your plan B.
#35: Seats arrangement.
The use of semi-circular seats arrangement is much better than the straight theater style where attendees at the end of the row have to turn their head sharply to see the presenter on stage. In addition, avoid arranging the chairs next to walls because this will makes them feel trapped.
During The Seminar
#36: Keep the attendees as close as possible to you.
By doing this, you keep them awake because they are closer to you. At the same time, you will have a closer interaction with your audience as well. They will be more likely to have more engagement with you.
#37: Record the seminar.
It is an advantage if you get someone to record the whole seminar; you can then playback the video to watch it with someone. The reason behind is to observe yourself, find out the mistakes and improve it. In addition, you can upload it to YouTube for those who couldn’t attend the seminar.
#38: A week before the seminar.
Besides the confirmation with the hotel and location, send a reminder to your attendees. They probably signed up for the seminar months ago, so there’s no harm if you send them a reminder about the seminar a week before. They will be delighted to hear from you and look forward to it.
#39: Include the logo and map.
In the reminder email, include the logo of the hotel if you can and also a small map or link to the location (use Google map). By doing this, you are making sure that your attendees get to the correct location on the day of your seminar.
#40: The day before the seminar.
You can go over the location for final checks, to make sure the setup is according to your plan. Check the seating arrangements, temperature of the hall, etc. If something is wrong, notify the person in charge on the day before instead of having your attendees to complain about it on the actual day. Besides, make all the phone calls needed to double check with other logistic matters.
#41: Place signs to indicate the location of the seminar.
Discuss with the hotel about this issue. Walk through the possible directions of your attendees, whether it’s from the car park or the main doors of the hotel, and put signs along the way. The signs lead your attendees all the way to the seminar hall. But please be considerate, just a few of will do.
#42: Open the doors an hour earlier before your presentation.
Besides putting the signs along the way, you can open the doors an hour earlier before your presentation. With the open up of your doors, they feel welcome to the seminar. If possible, have one or two person outside the hall to greet your attendees and give out the handouts.
#43: Arrive earlier on the actual day.
Always reach the location one hour earlier, so that you and your assistant may take the remaining time to rehearse your presentation one last time and make sure the Public Address (PA) system, lighting, and the PowerPoint slides are functioning well.
#44: Check the microphone.
Make sure the mike is clipped on the spot where it won’t constantly rub on your clothes when you walk around on stage, it will constantly make ‘noise’ in your presentation. So, arrive earlier to give yourself some time to rectify all these issues.
#45: Always prepare another backup for your PowerPoint slides.
You will never know what will happen in the future. It’s better to have another copy of your slides just in case something unpredictable happens. You can avoid last minute issues if you prepare beforehand.
#46: Rehearse your presentation.
Practice makes perfect. You definitely don’t want to be embarrassed in front of your attendees, rehearsing is important to avoid this from happening. In addition to that, you will know how long it takes to finish your presentation. This could be a serious problem because it shortens the time for you to interact with your attendees in the Q and A session.
#47: Know your own style of presentation.
Everyone’s unique and different. You have your own style of presentation. Every speaker should be different; no one should be the ‘shadow’ of someone else. Believe it or not, even if you copy other speakers but if it doesn’t have your spirit, it’s not the same. You won’t have the same impact as those great speakers.
#48: Keep your presentation short and simple.
The recommended duration for a seminar is 45-60 minutes, and maximum 70 minutes. Anything longer than 70 minutes will definitely snap the attention of your attendees.
#49: Schedule short breaks.
This will avoid the unnecessary interruptions from the attendees’ going for restroom breaks. One hour is too long to go without short breaks, so better to schedule short breaks in between the seminar. In addition, give the attendees a break to gather their thoughts to ‘digest’ what they have learned in the seminar.
#50: Focus on the attendees.
The presentation must be focused on your audience in order to have a successful presentation. No matter how good a speaker you are, it won’t work if it’s not focused on the audience. You will definitely need to take note of this to have a high impact presentation.
#51: Do not assume your attendees to know everything about your field.
The reason the attendees are there at the seminar is to learn from you. So never assume they know everything about your industry or field. They came there to learn from the expert and that is your duty.
#52: Remember your main message.
It is a good thing to convey just one core message in the presentation. Too many things at once will create an information overload in your attendees. Keep in mind to stick to just one message during your presentation.
#53: Draft your presentation.
Think of 5 main points under your main message. Then, for each main point, come up with another 3 to 4 key points for it. With this formula for drafting your presentation, you won’t have problem coming up with an engaging presentation.
#54: Include data, facts and statistics.
People are more likely to believe something with data, facts or statistics that can proof your points, but be sure to include the sources as well. Include specific names or organizations that provide you the data. This is a sure-fire technique that you can use anytime to boost your credibility.
#55: Relate to the attendees.
This is an add-on to the call to action session with your attendees. Before you call your attendees into action, inform your attendees about the problem they are facing, and provide them a solution for it. In your message, help them have a better understanding about the problem, and they will be able to relate to your product.
#56: What kind of results you’re looking for?
Once you know your core message, you need to know what’s end result of your presentation is. Begin with the visualization of the end in your mind so that you have a clear goal to achieve.
#57: Consider playing some music before and after the presentation.
I believe that a person is more relaxed when there’s music playing before the start of the presentation. Imagine when you’re in a roomful of people and everyone is quietly enjoying the music. So play the music before you begin your speech. It sets a nice mood and tone in the hall.
#58: Begin your presentation by showing appreciation.
The opening is crucial because the first impression takes place between you and your attendees. So, first of all thank your attendees for showing up at the seminar. Then followed by your introduction.
#59: Lay down some ground rules before the main presentation begins.
You may consider this technique to avoid some unnecessary interruptions during your presentation, rules such as ‘keep all your questions until the end of the presentation for our Q and A session’, and ‘we will have a few short restroom breaks in between, please be patient and wait for the short breaks later’.
#60: No harm repeating your main message.
You can create a greater impression on your main message by repeating it over and over again after a while. But, do no overuse this technique. Here’s a small tip, repeat the main message in a different sentence by tweaking it a little. So that it does not sound the same but it still carries the same meaning.
#61: Play an ice breaker.
Have an ice breaker at the beginning of the seminar since it gives the attendees a chance to get to know each other a little better. It energizes the atmosphere as they will learn while having fun at the same time.
#62: Make full use of visual aids.
PowerPoint aids your presentation, the flow of speech and it impresses the attendees. It is the easiest software that helps you to prepare your presentation slides. Set the layout to 16:9. This has become a trend in recent years, instead of using the square traditional slides; most of the computers now are wide screen. Hence, 16:9 will is a perfect fit for the screens.
#63: 100% Engagement
Treat your presentation as a two way communication between you and your attendees. Create an impression that you are having a casual conversation with them, instead of a boring lecture. When you begin to engage your attendees fully with your presentation, you will increase the effectiveness of conveying your message to them.
#64: Explain the content of the video beforehand.
If there’s a need to use a video to support your points, explain the content of the video beforehand so that your attendees will prepare themselves for the video. At the same time, explain to them how it is related to your previous point before they watch it, so they can relate to the video.
#65: Avoid overuse of abbreviations.
You can use some abbreviations in your presentation, but don’t overuse it. It is true that some of your attendees may remember better in abbreviations, but some of them might not know much about your industry. In addition, always have the full sentence right after the abbreviation.
#66: Use laser pointer.
You may consider the use of laser pointer when you are presenting to lead your attendees. When you need them to focus on certain points or keywords, you can use the pointer to lead them to the direction you want them to look at. But be careful not to blind yourself or the attendees with the laser pointer.
#67: Use flipcharts to do the demonstration.
Did you realize there is always a flipchart next to the speaker in a seminar? A flipchart is commonly used by the speaker during the talk to do demonstrations. To help the attendees have a better understanding of the message, you can write down extra notes that are not included in the PowerPoint slides.
#68: Do not overload the slides with words.
The overflow of words in the PowerPoint slides does not impress your attendees, but it distracts them. They will spend more time reading your slides, instead of listening to what you are talking about. Keep 20% of it clean, by inserting only the key points. Then elaborate it spontaneously.
#69: Do not use more colors than needed.
The usual color scheme will be 3 colors or less. People think the more colorful it is, the more attractive it is. This is a wrong concept for presentation slides, the colors in your presentation slides will distract your attendees to focus on other things instead of the main keywords in the slides.
#70: Font size matters!
Make sure the attendees at the back of the hall are able to read your slides. The ideal font size is 24 points and above.
#72: Standardize your slides.
If you have decided with a certain format, stick with it until the end of your slides. Instead of putting all kinds of pictures and designs, what you need to focus on is the words. You can put few slides with only pictures in between your presentation, for your attendees to rest their eyes as and it serves as a short break for their mind.
#72: Proofread – later.
Once you are done with your slides’ draft, take a break. Get back to it at least a few hours later to revise and finalize your presentation.
#73: The K.I.S.S principle.
Keep It Simple Silly! It’s a principle that most speakers miss out on. They tend to overload their presentation with jargons, just to show they are an expert in their field. But, how much can the attendees understand? They can barely understand what the speaker is trying to tell and your presentation will be pointless. The speaker job explain anything that’s complicated in a layman’s term
#74: Be a story teller
The implementation of stories, it adds dimensions to your presentation. Do you want a presentation with only facts, but without any proofs? I doubt it. So by using stories, it lightens up the atmosphere in the room.
#75: Use a cliffhanger.
Have you seen a TV show or series that ended abruptly without a conclusion? These three words that everyone dreads hearing: “To be continued.” Series producers do this to keep viewers retention and sustained their interest. The same technique can be used here in your seminar business. Tell attendees a story, but at the most dramatic part of the story, break away and tell your attendees you’ll continue the story later, and now focus on your topic first. As a result of this, your attendees will be awake and wait eagerly for the ending of the story.
#76: Speak in a moderate speed.
As a speaker with an important message for your audience, you need to speak slowly. Some people have a ‘fast brain’ they think faster than they can speak and write. But when you stand on stage, it is your duty to convey the message clearly to your attendees. If you speak too fast, they might not be able to catch up.
#77: Stop and recap previous topic in the middle of the presentation.
Do not expect your attendees to absorb all the information at once. Take note and stop, then recap the previous information in the middle of the presentation to refresh their minds. This is to make sure they learn something from you in the presentation.
#78: Keep an eye on the timer.
Put a small timer on the podium on stage and time yourself. Even if you are very sure that your presentation is not too long or too short judging from your rehearsals, the timing of the actual presentation is always unpredictable. Maybe it’s due to your nervousness on stage; the speed of your speech will be slower or faster than usual. To prevent this, keep an eye on the time.
#79: Remember to make eye contact!
Eye contact is one of the important non-verbal cues when we are talking to someone. You definitely don’t want to speak to a person that never makes eye contact with you! Look at the attendees no matter how nervous you are on stage.
#80: Find few key people.
You can find few key people among the attendees who encourage you to continue speaking on stage. You can make eye contact with this group of attendees instead of looking at the wall or floor awkwardly without a direction.
If you study the body language of your audience and they seem less amused, consider switching up the tone of your presentation. Depending on the situation, telling a story or a joke helps. If you haven’t been engaging your audience, it is time to do it now.
#82: Got stage fright? Walk around.
If you find yourself trembling and shaking on stage, walk around. Be animated. By doing this, you loosen your tight muscles and reduce anxiety.
#83: Be conscious of your habits.
This takes practice. There is a chance you have developed some bad habits and you’re not aware of it. And the problem with untrained speakers is that they take their bad habits with them – to the stage. Do you find yourself playing with your nose? Scratching your back? Twirling your hair? Adjusting your glasses frequently? Your audience picks up all of these tiny, little details because when you’re on stage you’re as good as under the microscope! Study yourself through video recordings or practice in front of a mirror.
#84: Got a blank mind?
This usually happens when you are nervous on stage. When this happens, do not be tempted to rush thru your presentation. Take pauses and don’t forget to breath! This gives you time to gather your thoughts back on track.
#85: Keep small notes in your pocket.
While it’s probably not professional to read off a script under most circumstances, people are alright with you keeping a small note for your reference. The first few minutes may prove to be a nervous experience for green speakers, so with the help of some key points in your notes you can deliver your presentation on point.
#86: Keep your last 5 minutes for Q and A session.
Q and A session is the time for you to build up your credibility in your profession. It is also a great opportunity to prove your expertise and answer questions not covered in your presentation.
#87: Repeat the question FIRST before answering.
Sometimes not everyone in the room or hall has heard the question from a participant clearly. So as the speaker, you repeat the question so that everyone in the seminar hears it and are up to speed before you reply.
#88: Be tactful when dealing with difficult people.
There are big chances where you will be dealing with difficult people, but don’t be discouraged by them. Just be polite and answer their questions one by one and be polite to all of them. Because you will never know what will happen in the future, they are all your potential customers. So, don’t burn the bridge too early.
#89: If you get off-topic questions…
Just let him or her know that the question is beyond the scope of your topic, and you are not the right person to answer it. Do not answer this kind of question, because it might affect your credibility if you can’t provide a significant answer because it is out of your reach.
#90: If you get open-ended questions…
Let the attendee know that the question is very subjective and you can’t cover in the short time you have on stage. He or she may speak to you about it more after the presentation.
#91: Close your message with a story.
Story telling is a prized skill and if done correctly, you can increase your call to action among your attendees towards the end of your seminar.
Be certain to acknowledge someone before you end the presentation. Do not hesitate to give credit to the person who helps you in preparing the seminar. It is not necessary to mention all their names at the end of the presentation, you can show your gratitude to the people who help you when you mention it but a list of names and sources can be shown in the last slide.
#93: Give your attendees a cue to applause.
Did you notice that people always need a cue to start giving applause? There will always be the first clap from someone, and then the others will follow. You can literally be the first one to do this but in a different way. You can give the attendees a sign for them to give applause. At the same time when you say thank you at end the seminar, stretch out your palm towards your audience then put your palms close together. This gives a sign to the attendees that it’s time to clap.
#94: Do not close the door if the attendees come to the backstage for further inquiries.
Some of the attendees might not have a chance to ask the questions that were in their mind through the Q & A session because of time constraints. If they go to the backstage for further inquiries, do not close the door and block their way to reaching out to you. They are more likely to become your customers because they are interested to know more!
#95: Invite a guest speaker.
Guest speaker at the seminar is like a ‘bonus’ to your attendees – especially if you invite another expert in the same field. They add value to your seminar, and in a way provide endorsement to your product! But there is a need to have an agreement and have some ‘rules’ to prevent unpleasant surprises at the end of your seminar.
#96: Drink warm water to cure sore throat.
Instead of preparing a cold drink beside you, put a bottle of warm water or tea. Cold beverages will constrict your throat.
#97: Have fun on stage and Smile!
This is your stage, have fun with it, don’t stress yourself too much to make a perfect presentation. When you are enjoying your time on stage, your attendees will pick up on that and enjoy themselves more in the seminar as well. Smiling is the best cure for everything! It’s a universal non-verbal cue that always carries a positive meaning wherever you go.
#98: Get feedbacks.
The feedbacks from the attendees are extremely important to a speaker. This is where you can learn from your mistakes, and improve yourself to be a better presenter the next time. This can also serve as your ideas when you’re expanding your products. Know what the problem of your attendees are, and once again create solutions to solve the problem.
#99: Be prepared for all sorts of feedbacks.
Now that you collected all the feedbacks after your presentation, be prepared to receive any kinds of feedbacks – either negative or positive. Do not be discouraged if you receive negative feedbacks, learn from it instead. You will be glad when you receive positive feedbacks but also find out your weaknesses, and continuously improve yourself.
#100: Keep records.
Keep everything recorded! This is especially important when it comes to your financials. Keep everything in order so you can come back to it in the future. After some time, you can always refer back to your older records of your budget when you are planning to conduct another seminar.
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