How to Plan a Seminar
Before we jump into the process of how to plan a seminar, let’s establish what the term “seminar” actually describes. In a corporate context, a seminar is an event or program where people gather to discuss and/or receive training and information on a particular topic. Corporate seminars can cover a wide range of topics, including:
- Customer service
- Conflict management
- Effective communication
- Training in new technological skills
- Work/life balance
- Managing stress
- Public speaking
Ultimately, it all depends on what niche the seminar aims to fill on behalf of its associated organization. Additionally, a seminar is distinct from other corporate events, such as workshops: while seminars focus on generalized learning and knowledge-sharing on a topic, workshops generally involve a limited group of people collaborating to engage with a particular project or activity. With the right planning, a seminar can be a memorable opportunity to generate excitement and energy within your organization, while making strides toward smarter strategies for doing business and a stronger, more resilient company culture. Here’s our overview of how to plan a seminar that successfully achieves these outcomes (and more).
How do you plan a seminar?
Now that we’ve defined our terms, we can focus on the *how* behind a fun, productive, and even unforgettable (!) seminar.
1. Give yourself plenty of time
This is simple, but key advice for how to plan a seminar. You’ll want to start planning roughly six months out. Ideally, you’ll be reaching out to speakers and delegating tasks to others ASAP: you want to make sure that you’re giving everyone involved sufficient time to get their tasks done and do them well. But of course, things don’t always go perfectly according to plan. If you’ve got a little less time, you can still make it happen—but we do recommend getting started immediately.
2. Decide on your aims and goals for the seminar
Put simply: what’s the topic of your seminar? And in the process of establishing and refining this topic, ask: what’s the purpose of your seminar? This means figuring out who your intended audience will be (and how many people will attend), the general subject matter (technology? Stress management?), and what will get people interested and excited. For an especially effective, purpose-driven seminar, figure out what specific actions or accomplishments you’d like to inspire your audience to put into practice. This sense of purpose will make your content much more interesting than anything centered around an abstract set of ideas/recommendations.
3. Establish your budget
Now that you know what you’re trying to achieve, consider practical parameters and the scope of what you’ll be able to get done: naturally, that means knowing how much money you’ll be able to spend. Take into account factors like sponsorship funding, donations, and (if you’re selling tickets) any earnings from tickets sold. This is the time to note for financial limitations and attempt to rectify them if possible by, say, finding new sponsors and new sources of funding wherever you can (so this is also the time to establish your hierarchy of sponsorship packages).
4. Choose a venue
Sure, you can go with the standard hotel ballroom location, but frankly, that can be pretty boring. It’s only natural that attendees would show up and see the same decor that they always see at corporate events—the rows of chairs and harsh fluorescent lighting—and end up expecting nothing new. Why not undo these expectations by choosing a more distinctive location, like one of those available on Peerspace? (For instance, consider holding your seminar in a cool, modern warehouse loft or art gallery.) Your guests will arrive pleased and intrigued by the unusual venue, so it’s a fair bet they’ll be prepared to be more engaged with your event.
5. Create an agenda
First, you’ve got to know what speakers will be at your event, and who will be talking about what topics (that’s why we insist that the sooner you can contact speakers, the better). (This is also a good time to take the crucial step of figuring out travel plans and establish accommodations for your speakers.) Once you know who your speakers are, you can outline the entire schedule and plan the entire seminar hour-by-hour. This will likely require ongoing adjustments throughout the planning process, so be prepared to be flexible.
6. Address technical and logistical needs
We can’t give an absolute definition of what this will entail for everyone, because it’s really different for each seminar. We can say, though, that ironing out the details of tools and supplies is a big part of this: printing written materials/name badges/signage ahead of time, figuring out your A/V needs (figuring out where you’ll be getting a projector, speakers, etc.), dealing with RSVPs and tickets (you can register your event with an online ticket platform), establishing plans for catering, and any other relevant logistical preparations. It’s an especially great idea to rehearse the technical factors in advance of the event, making sure that speakers’ PowerPoints will show up properly, that your equipment is in working order, and so on.
7. Advertise your seminar
Understanding marketing and promotion is a significant part of how to plan a seminar. You might want to make an event marketing calendar for your seminar to streamline the process. And thankfully, we live in the age of social media, so extensively advertising your seminar is significantly easier and cheaper than it’s ever been in the past. Facebook events as well as sharing details on popular platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram can make all the difference between sparse attendance and major buzz. And don’t forget to go back to basics with emails to potential attendees. Demonstrating the successes of your past events (with photos, testimonials, etc.) is an especially effective way to prove that this seminar will be equally valuable. Get creative!
At the outset, making an effective seminar a reality might seem like a daunting task, but have faith: it’s totally doable with sufficient planning. The process is really a matter of figuring out what you’re hoping to achieve, and then establishing and methodically following the steps required to get there. With a bit of creativity, organization, and ingenuity, your seminar will be a success. And luckily, with Peerspace’s vast database of fabulous, unique event spaces at your fingertips, you’ll have no trouble finding the right location for your event. You’ll just have to figure out how to use that space to your best advantage.