Let’s face it – not every employee thinks of seminars with joy in their heart, and there aren’t many who set off to the convention centre with a spring in their step. The sad but true fact is, many seminars out there are so dry and dusty that employees must do their best to keep from dozing off.
So how can you make your next seminar an event to remember? To keep your audience paying attention throughout your seminar, focus on ramping up the three aspects below:
Who’s at the microphone?
Your speakers can make or break your seminar. They have the ability to send your delegates to the land of slumber or bring them to the edge of their seats and hanging on every word.
When choosing your speakers, you need to look for certain characteristics that will enhance the presentation. Firstly, your speaker has to be knowledgeable, as your audience will be able to tell if they know their subject or not. An expert in the field will speak naturally and fluently, and the subject matter will flow effortlessly.
Your speaker also has to be sincere and genuinely care about his subject. He must have passion and enthusiasm for the topic, and a unique perspective, which will come across in the way he speaks to his audience.
Sprinkling in a little humour is a surefire way to keep an audience engaged. However, the humour must be tactful at all times, and relevant to the subject. Humour can be misconstrued, so you must be careful not to ostracise any member of your audience.
Consider speakers who do more than just talk at a microphone while a PowerPoint presentation plays behind them. Many modern speakers find interesting ways to engage the audience through conversation, music, live demonstration and even games.
Building an atmosphere
A suitable environment is a must for a successful seminar. Drab rooms, peeling wallpaper, out-of-date technology – all these are a major turn-off to your delegates.
If possible, choose a dedicated room built for purpose. The amenities should suit your subject and presentation; for example, if you plan to incorporate group work, there must be room for delegates to gather comfortably around tables.
If your audience is expected to sit for long periods of time, the chairs should be comfortable (without inducing a snooze), and should be positioned so that everyone can view the presentation.
During breaks, if delegates have somewhere pleasant to stretch their legs and get fresh air, they will feel more refreshed and ready to continue. If you are providing refreshments or catering, be careful it is light and fresh, as something heavy like lasagne or casserole will leave participants feeling sluggish and sleepy.
Ensure your room is light and airy, with good ventilation but without being draughty. If you are using air conditioning, check it is not too hot or too cold. Keep the temperature as comfortable as you can, and if you’re unsure, turn it down a notch.
Choose a room with good presentation technologies, and always check they work before the presentation. Ensure they are equipped with all the necessary modern media, as using a range of presentation techniques will help your audience remain engaged.
Subject matter matters most
The presentations at the seminar must be straightforward and easy to follow, and it’s absolutely essential that they are both engaging while suited to the overall theme of the conference. If the subject matter is complicated, use a variety of speakers and presentations to break it down into manageable pieces.
Avoid any presentations that run for too long. The average concentration span is considered to be 20 minutes or less, so consider shortening those hour-long presentation blocks into something shorter, snappier, and more engaging.
The subject matter presented must be very well planned and scheduled. Of course there will also be presentations happening simultaneously that may conflict with one another, but for the most part, try to organise any presentations into a logical order that most participants will find easy to manage. And always have a contingency plan, because you never know when things don’t quite go plan!