Getting Business from Educational Seminars

August 3, 2008 Blog

We work with a lot of clients who do educational seminars and often wonder why they don’t get the results they want from the effort. We believe in doing educational seminars, but to really get results from them, you need to be very clear about what return you want from doing them.

Many believe that if we ‘dazzle’ them with our knowledge and give the audience lots of information that shows that we are experts, they will want to buy from us. While information does build credibility, the goal of any educational seminar should be to pique your attendees interest so much so that they walk away saying “I can’t do this without them.” If your attendees don’t walk away with this believe, you need to rethink your approach. Here are some tips we suggest for truly getting the results you want from your educational seminar.

  1. Create presentation that gets the audience involved in discovering and discussing their concerns/issues/wants/desires.
  2. If you are presenting for the first time or delivering a new talk, practice or review it with a co-worker at least once before the actual event.
  3. Ask at the beginning what each participants hopes to gain from the program (if the group isn’t too large.) If the group is too large, select a handful of attendees to answer the question. Get the group involved early.
  4. If possible, get a list of attendees prior to the event to see if there is anyone you know or who fits your ‘ideal’ prospect criteria.
  5. Be sure to leave enough time in your presentation to answer questions fully. Don’t dodge tough questions, but don’t tell them so much technical information that you bore the rest of the group. Important to remember: Attendees should leave the seminar/speech knowing that they don’t know enough, and that they want you to help them, whatever their reasons.
  6. Be reassuring and nurturing throughout the program, but especially at the beginning, when they are talking about their issues/concerns, etc.
  7. Don’t feel defensive if you can’t answer a question. After all, you’re human, just like them, and nobody is perfect. Your job is to communicate to them that your company, product or service – not just you – can help them solve their problems.
  8. If you are talking more than 3-4 minutes without interruption, you’re usually boring someone! Involve the audience!!
  9. Invite questions and remember to follow a question with another question (when appropriate) to make sure you know the ‘why’ behind their question and enable them to be more specific so that your response really addressing their question. For example, “When should I fertilize my trees?” Your response might be “What type of trees do you have?”
  10. Before you close the session, ask for questions and comments. Be sure to ask for both, not just questions.
  11. Always have a hand-out that participants take away with them. Make sure it have your name and phone number on it for future reference.
  12. It’s important that the audience leaves the program having learned something, but it’s more important that they leave knowing they don’t know all they need to know, and that your company, product or service can help them.
  13. If all you do is educate the audience without getting them involved or engaging them, you run the risk of only appealing to the technical people and losing the others.
  14. Always ask them to fill out an evaluation sheet – name and phone number included. Be sure you ask is there is anyone who they think would benefit from this program or if they or anyone they know are interested in a personal conversation about their specific needs. Also provide a space for “Additional information you would like us to know.”
  15. Always include a description of the company and services provided at the end of the hand-out.

Educational seminars and speeches are a great way to get in front of a large number of people. They are most successful when you create interest and a desire to talk to you personally about specific work to be done.