Successful seminars/workshops are a direct result of adequate preparation on the part of the organizer of the event. These events are costly and time-consuming endeavors, therefore, it is of paramount importance that the event meets or exceeds its desired objective of communicating the information presented to the selected target group. Globalization and technology have given us the opportunity to conduct seminars/workshops in a variety of ways; therefore, the resourceful organizer, whether in government or private enterprise, should be vigilant and receptive to the changes that occur in their working environment, which can impact their profitability, efficiency, and effectiveness.
Traditionally, workshops and seminars were conceived as being different types of training devices, but in contemporary times, the two are seen as being synonymous and are used interchangeably to refer to the same thing. Preparing a seminar/workshop involves understanding a wide variety of issues and concerns. Each seminar/workshop has a unique audience with unique skills and objectives, and perhaps a different number of participants. It is usually held in a different place with different infrastructure. Two seminars/workshops are never identical, even if they cover the same topic.
Several activities are involved in preparing a seminar/workshop these activities can be organized into three stages preparation, implementation, and evaluation.
Preparation for the seminar/workshop involves several activities such as;
Determining the budget available to host the event
Determining the theme or the topic to be discussed at the workshop/seminar
Engaging and securing the relevant presenter(s),
Identifying the target group and number of participants required,
Securing the venue,
Finalizing event details,
Contact relevant ministries, departments, or target groups to inform them of the event – (time, date, venue, duration, break information),
Finalise list of persons attending,
Sourcing and preparing all necessary resources needed by the organizer and Presenter – (books, manuals, projectors, name tags, etc),
Securing a caterer to provide meals if not included in the venue package
Contact Accountant and request a 'Local Purchase Order'.
Funding is an integral part of any event since the amount of funding available for the hosting of the event will determine the number of factors in planning the event.
Number of participants
Equipment – (Presentation Media)
Informational packets / Materials
Availability of refreshments
Expertise of Presenter
Theme / Topic
The seminar topic should address an issue/concern that has stimulated the interest of the business sector or wider society. The selection of the topic should naturally lead to the seminar objective. The objectives in turn will determine the scope of the seminar and should deal specifically with those areas that are pertinent to the achievement of the seminar objectives.
Selection of Presenter
The success of the seminar greatly depends upon the quality of the presenters; therefore, you should choose speakers who are appropriate for the topic chosen. Ideally, the speaker should be someone at the top of their field or someone who possesses in-depth knowledge of the particular area, either academically or professionally. The presenter should be informed of the seminar and its desired objectives to facilitate their preparation of the actual material they will be presenting. The material to be presented should be accurate and up-to-date. This will undoubtedly influence the equipment and visual media used in the presentation. At this point, confirmation of speaker participation should be sought.
Points to consider:
Expertise / strong research background,
Ability to convey knowledge to a large audience,
Unbiased and non-partisan (do not invite speakers that are aligned with a particular cause/group),
Identify an alternative speaker as a precaution
The characteristics of participants will influence the structure, content, and activities undertaken in a workshop. Some key questions to be taken into consideration are:
What are the size and composition of the group?
What are the ages, ethnicity, gender, and teaching experience of the participants?
What is their level of interest?
What are their needs?
How do you mitigate problems that might arise?
Personality types of the group?
Secure Venue for Workshop or Seminar
The type of seminar being presented will influence the venue that is chosen. The facilities of the venue should be able to comfortably accommodate the participants while taking into consideration the needs of the presenter and the budget.
Points to consider:
Lighting & Acoustics
Audio / visual requirements
Determine the length of the seminar, the mode(s) of delivery, the equipment needs of the presenter, handouts and other learning material for participants, breaks and refreshments, and deadlines for responding. Secure a caterer to provide refreshments if not included in the venue package.
Contact Relevant Departments / Participants
Initial contact with those departments or persons identified to attend the seminar, with the full details of the seminar included. Includes:
Deadline for response
Requirements for eligibility
Number of participants required
Liaise with departments/participants to ensure that the information disseminated by the organizer is received. Ascertain the potential participants who are attending the seminar and remind them of the start date.
Prepare the final list of participants.
The final list of those attending the seminar is prepared. All relevant persons are notified of the number of participants (caterer, presenter, and facilitator).
At this stage, all resources required for the seminar have been acquired or sourced.
Software to be utilized
All bills should be paid before the commencement of the seminar to avoid any embarrassing situations. The local purchase order or other forms of payment should be finalized and ready for disbursement unless there is a special arrangement for payment between the organizer and the recipient.
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