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What Is a Seminar (and How Do You Plan One)?

It’s important to establish your business as a thought leader in your industry to help boost your credibility and trust with potential customers. A great way to do this is by hosting seminars on subjects you’re knowledgeable on to educate attendees and teach them more about what your business has to offer. Learn the benefits of seminars, different types of seminars and tips for planning.

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What is a seminar?

A seminar is an event hosted by a corporation or business to teach attendees about a new subject, technique or practice. Seminars usually take place in large gathering spaces, like hotel meeting areas, office conference rooms or university halls The subjects taught at seminars can be industry-related or they can focus on helping attendees improve their personal or professional lives.

Seminars can feature speakers primarily from the organization hosting the event, or they may invite guest speakers with extensive industry knowledge to come and present on a subject they’re experts in. Companies may send their employees to seminars to learn a new skill or to share their own knowledge with attendees.

Though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, the main difference between a conference and a seminar is that a conference often hosts more attendees, has more speakers and lasts for several days. On the other hand, a seminar usually consists of around 10 to 50 attendees and focuses in-depth on one or two main subject matters. A workshop also differs as it’s usually more hands-on and involves interactive exercises, questionnaires and group discussions to help attendees learn particular skills or techniques.

Related:Brown Bag Lunches at Work: Create a Learning Environment

Benefits of seminars

Seminars are an effective way to teach both current and future customers about a new skill, while also promoting your business. Common benefits of hosting a seminar include:

  • Builds awareness of your company: Hosting a seminar establishes your company as a thought-leader who’s highly knowledgeable on a particular subject. Creating and sending out marketing material for your event also helps build your brand recognition and brings in attendees looking to learn a new subject who might not have been familiar with your company before the event.
  • Educates your audience:A great benefit to throwing a seminar is knowing you’re helping others learn a new skill to better themselves in either their personal or professional lives. It can give you a gratifying feeling of knowing you’re adding value and benefiting others.
  • Increases lead generation and conversion rates:After attendees listen and learn more from your presentations, they may build stronger trust in your company and want to purchase your product. If you give them a simple way to contact your company and learn more about your services, you may receive a large influx of leads interested in converting to customers or clients.
  • Strengthens professional relationships and partnerships:To add a variety of valuable knowledge to your seminar, you can invite business partners to speak at your seminar as well. This helps promote and attract more leads to their business, which strengthens your professional relationship with them.

Different types of seminars

The best type of seminar for you to host depends on your product, industry and target audience. The different types of seminars organizations commonly host include:

Business

These seminars are often targeted toward small businesses or entrepreneurs to help them start or improve their company. Speakers typically share their own personal success stories, advice to follow or strategies to implement. They may talk about basic business tactics like licensing, marketing and franchising a company.

For example, a company could host a seminar on email marketing for small businesses. They could teach attendees strategies for segmenting their audiences and crafting emails to convert more leads to customers.

Personal development

Personal development seminars often focus heavily on helping attendees better themselves and learn new hard or soft skills. These seminars can teach skills like leadership, negotiation and organization to help attendees advance in their careers. Some companies may host personal development seminars for students or recently unemployed people to teach them ways to apply for roles and improve their resume.

For example, a mobile organization application company may host a seminar on how to prioritize your tasks and implement time management strategies to improve your productivity and efficiency at work.

Related:5 Steps to Creating an Effective Training and Development Program

Academia

These seminars are often hosted by a school district to instruct teachers on new practices and standards. Some companies also host webinars focused on academic-related topics. Companies who sell products to academic institutions host these webinars to appeal to teachers, principals or professors. Institutional leaders send their employees to these seminars to either learn a new teaching skill, curriculum or technology to enhance the institution’s efficiencies.

For instance, a learning application company may conduct a seminar on strategies for teaching students new skills and subjects through digital gaming devices and other technology.

Tips for planning a seminar

Scheduling and hosting a seminar often takes time as you find the best venue, build a productive agenda and set an appropriate budget. Follow these tips to plan a successful seminar:

Decide the purpose of the event

You must first decide what your event will be about and what your audience will gain from it. Meet with different departments and listen to their suggestions for possible subject matters to discuss. Your topic should be relevant to your industry and product and should provide value to attendees.

Once you have a list of potential topics, determine who in your business has extensive knowledge on the subject and is willing to present on it. After you find people within the company to speak, reach out to your business’ partners, if available, and ask if they’d like the opportunity to present as well.

Plan when the event will be held

Pick a date to host your event. It should be far enough in advance that attendees can plan for it and take off work. Give yourself enough time to prepare and get all of your necessary items in order. Reach out to all your presenters to learn their schedules and ensure everyone is available that day to speak and attend.

Take note of dates for industry events or conferences occurring to ensure your seminar doesn’t overlap with these events. If you plan a seminar on the same dates, you may lose potential attendees or presenters who already had plans to go to an industry conference or event.

Set your budget

Meet with your accounting or finance team to set an appropriate and detailed budget for your event. Make a list of the items you may need to hold the seminar, like rental space for the venue, audio-visual equipment and other presentation equipment, presenter costs if you’re paying them, printed handouts, pens and pencils for attendees and tables and chairs. Conduct research to estimate these costs to help set a realistic budget.

Pick a venue

Research potential venue locations and start soliciting bids. Make sure you have a fairly accurate estimation of the number of attendeesto ensure you find a venue that’s large enough. Try to plan this as far in advance as possible as some companies reserve venues at least a year before their event.

Build your seminar agenda

Meet with your speakers to confirm the subjects they’re discussing. Note each seminar topic and the importance of each to help you sort them into a particular order. Ask them to estimate how long it’ll take them to present on the subject. To make the seminar flow smoothly, it’s best for each presentation to last the same amount of time.

Try to schedule each presentation for an hour to ensure your audience stays engaged throughout the event. Fit in breaks every few hours to give your audience time to rest, use the restroom and digest the information.

Market your upcoming event

Work with your marketing team to develop a strategy for marketing your seminar. If you’re in charge of marketing it yourself, create a marketing calendar and plan. Use social media to regularly post about the event.

Send out emails to your current customers and leads to inform them of the event and to invite others. Build a press release for the audience in your industry to view. You should also reach out to other media outlets to announce your event. Call organizations that publish calendars listing upcoming events in nearby communities.

A seminar is a great way to educate your audience and attract more leads. As you plan for your event, be ready for constant changes and issues to occur. It’s important to be adaptable and ready to solve any potential problems as they arise to ensure you’re hosting a successful and valuable seminar.

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