When you place ‘business‘ in front of anything it becomes a point of anxiety. You feel pressured to go above and beyond because either yourself or someone who is paying has a significant monetary investment on the occasion.
Though this level of apprehension is a good thing that will push you to get everything done on schedule and to the best of your ability, you do not need to die during the process. With proper planning and execution, your business seminar can be a smooth sail to the finish line.
Before we tackle the list, lets put something into perspective. This is just another event. If you are a business professional of any calibre setting up a seminar will not hold many surprises for you. All you will need is your basic planning, organization, correspondence, research, and managerial skills. More importantly, when it comes to events, remember that you can’t organize at the last minute. For example, it would be very difficult for you to hold the seminar entertainment without the magician.
Step 1: Why Are You Doing This?
What are your ultimate, bottom line goals for this seminar? Are you here to make money? Market your business? Make connections? Maybe this is an opportunity to train your staff. The answer or answers to this question will be the DNA of this entire endeavor.
Step 2: Loose Plan
Desired turn out for the event.
How many days will the event take?
Topics that will be covered at the event.
How you want these topics covered, i.e. PowerPoint, Keynote, Spoken word.
What equipment will you need for this event? Things like microphones, chairs, desks, projectors, screens, paper, folders, etc.
Do you need guest speakers? If so, which ones and what dates do they have available?
What type of venue will you need?
Step 3: Venue
Which venues are available?
Which of these venues does your budget allow?
What dates are they available? Be mindful that some venues will have to be locked down months or even more than a year ahead of your seminar.
What does your venue offer? Do they already have sound equipment, lighting, tables, extension cords (more important than you realize), projectors, computers, and chairs? Does the venue have Wi-Fi? Will these things be cheaper to get from the venue or to bring in yourself?
What is the parking situation at the venue?
Can the venue provide production assistance and labor?
Which Venues are available on dates that your guest speakers are available? If none, which do you feel is more important to the success of your seminar? You may need to hold off on the seminar or change venues if you have the perfect guest speaker lined up.
Step 4: Assets
What equipment do you have available?
How will you get said equipment and assets to the venue?
Step 5: Extras
Do you need to facilitate housing and transportation for guest speakers, entertainers or attendees?
Will you be providing food? If so, who will be catering the event?
Will you be providing entertainment? If so, ensure you lock down any artists or entertainers far ahead of schedule.
Do you expect everyone at this event to sign in?
Are there any local businesses that wish to get involved?
Will you allow outside businesses and services to set up booths? If so, are you going to charge and do you have a plan for this part of the operation in general?
Step 6: Marketing
Even though this is a business seminar meant for either your business or someone else’s, you still need to make sure all applicable parties are informed that it is happening.
Has everyone attended a business meeting in which they were informed about the upcoming seminar?
Is this seminar mandatory and are they aware?
If all else fails, see to it yourself that everyone is told in person by simply getting everyone’s attention in the workplace and letting them know.
Step 7: Getting Close
Once you have planned and lined everything up, as the date approaches you to need to maintain the situation to ensure success.
Check with all moving parts like guest speakers, equipment rental companies and anyone who is not you that has a part in the seminar. Make sure they can still uphold their end of the bargain. Do this at least a month out for any part of the seminar that has a heartbeat.
Are you ready for your part? Do you have to do a speech, introduce speakers or give a presentation?
Step 8: Day Of
Put your feet on the ground and make sure everything is done right.
Is all of the equipment you need where it needs to be?
Has all of the equipment been tested?
Are the seating and tables set up?
Is the lighting the way you want it?
Do the microphones work at all points needed to give the presentation?
Are the screen and projector working?
Have all the booths been set up?
Is the food or catering service ready to go?
Are all of your guest speakers nearby, comfortable and prepared?
Double check whatever you have time for.
Though this list may seem long, business seminars take time to come to fruition. It is best to plan your seminar at least a year out. This gives you time to correct mistakes, create and execute contingency plans and possibly not lose too much sleep. With a little self-confidence and a lot of hard work, your business seminar will almost go off without a hitch. Almost, because at any live event, nothing ever goes completely right, so don’t beat yourself up if a few things go wrong.
Alex is fascinated with “understanding” people. It’s actually what drives everything he does. He believes in a thoughtful exploration of how you shape your thoughts, experience of the world.