How to Prepare Successful Workshops & Seminars At Events?
Successful seminars / workshops are a direct result of adequate previous preparation on the part of the organiser of the event. These events are costly and time consuming endeavour, 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. Globalisation and technology has given us the opportunity to conduct seminars / workshops in a variety of ways, therefore, the resourceful organiser, whether in government or private enterprise, should be vigilant and receptive to embrace theses changes that occur in their working environment which can impact on their profitability, efficiency and effectiveness.
Traditionally, workshop 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 a different infrastructure. Two seminars / workshops are never identical, even if they cover the same topic.
There are a number of activities that are involved in preparing a seminar / workshop these activities can be organised into three stages as preparation, implementation and evaluation.
- Preparation for the seminar / workshop involves a number of activities such as;
- Determining the budget available to host the event
- Determining the theme or the topic to be discussed at workshop/seminar
- Engaging and securing the relevant presenter(s),
- Identifying target group and number of participants required,
- Securing the venue,Finalising event details,
- Contact relevant ministries, departments or target group to inform them of event – (time, date, venue, duration, break information),
- Finalise list of persons attending,
- Sourcing and preparing all necessary resources needed by organiser and Presenter – (books, manuals, projectors, name tags, etc),
- Securing caterer to provide meals if not included in 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 a 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 which has stimulated the interest of the business sector or the 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 whom are appropriate for the topic chosen. Ideally, the speaker should be someone at the top of their field or someone who possesses an in-depth knowledge of the particular area either academically or professionally. The Presenter should be informed of the seminar scope and its desired objectives in order 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 to be used in the presentation. Confirmation of speaker participation should be sought at this point.
Points to consider:
Expertise / strong research background
Ability to convey knowledge to a large audienceUnbiased and non-partisan (do not invite speakers that are aligned with a particular cause / group)
Travel expensesIdentify 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:
What is the size and the 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 to mitigate problems that might arise?
Personality types of 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:
- Computer accessibility
- Lighting & Acoustics
- Audio / visual requirements
Determine the length of the seminar, the mode(s) of deliverance, equipment needs of Presenter, handouts and other learning material for participants, breaks and refreshments, and deadlines for replying. Secure a caterer to provide refreshments if not included in venue package.
Contact Relevant Departments / Participants
Initial contact of those Departments or persons identified to attend the seminar, with the full details of the seminar included. Includes:
- Deadline for response
- Seminar overview / outline
- Requirements for eligibility
- Number of participants required
Liaising with Departments / participants to ensure that the information disseminated by the organiser was received. Ascertain the potential participants who are attending the seminar and remind them of start date.
Prepare Final List of Participants
The final list of those persons attending the seminar is prepared. All relevant persons are notified of the number of participants (Caterer, Presenter, and Facilitator).
All resources required for the seminar is acquired or sourced at this stage. Checklist:
- Projectors, Laptop
- Flip charts
- Software to be utilised
- Name tags
All bills should be paid before the commencement of the seminar to avoid any embarrassing situations from occurring. The Local Purchase Order or other form of payment should be finalised and be ready for disbursement, unless there is a special arrangement for payment between the organiser and the recipient.