What is a Seminar?

A seminar may be defined as a gathering of people for the purpose of discussing a stated topic. Such gatherings are usually interactive sessions where the participants engage in discussions about the delineated topic. The sessions are usually headed or led by one or two presenters who serve to steer the discussion along the desired path.

Purpose of a Seminar

A seminar may have several purposes or just one purpose. For instance, a seminar may be for the purpose of education, such as a lecture, where the participants engage in the discussion of an academic subject for the aim of gaining a better insight into the subject. Other forms of educational seminars might be held to impart some skills or knowledge to the participants. Examples of such seminars include personal finance, web marketing, real estate, investing or other types of seminars where the participants gain knowledge or tips about the topic of discussion.

Of course, a seminar can be motivational, in which case the purpose is usually to inspire the attendees to become better people, or to work towards implementing the skills they might have learned from the seminar. For instance, a business seminar with a financial theme could be for the purpose of teaching small business owners how to pitch to investors or to write a solid business plan, and to motivate them to get started right away.

Sometimes, seminars are simply a way for businessmen and women, or other like-minded people, to network and meet other attendees with similar interests. Such seminars provide opportunities for the attendees to make some potentially valuable contacts that can help them move to the next level in their careers or endeavors.

A trade seminar brings a wide cross-section of the community together, such as government officials, businessmen and women and the general public. Such seminars often consist of workshops and the presentation of white papers. They are usually held for the purpose of networking with various vendors and making new connections.

Seminars vs. Workshops

The main difference between seminars and workshops is that seminars are usually more academic and less hands-on than workshops. Seminars are events that are mostly geared towards educational topics and usually feature one or more experts on the subject matter. On the other hand, workshops are generally less formal and require more attendee participation than seminars. The main thrust of workshops is for the participants to gain new skills during the event under the guidance of the instructor.

Planning a Seminar

The first step towards planning an effective seminar is to determine what the purpose of the seminar will be. Think about the target audience who will participate and what they stand to gain from attending the seminar. Every seminar must have an agenda, so determine what the agenda will be. Set a budget for the seminar and work within this budget, and don't get too carried away with the selection of venue and other considerations that could potentially cost money.

Before the Seminar

Find speakers for the seminar through an analysis of the subject matter and the speakers who can best fit the occasion. Such speakers may be professional speakers, or just people with the requisite knowledge and authority to effectively convey the desired message.

You also have to find a proper venue for the seminar. This process can be simplified by utilizing the venue finder here on eVenues. Some of the things to consider when choosing an event venue include the availability of the necessary technical infrastructure to support the event.

For example, the venue should have audio-visual facilities and communication equipment. Depending on the season, the air-conditioning or heating should be functioning properly. Find out if they have a stand or dais for the speaker and if they offer catering services. Another important consideration is the availability of ample parking for the seminar attendees.

Send out invites to those who will attend the seminar and engage in active marketing of the event through various means. For instance, the numerous social media sites are an excellent method for marketing the event. Facebook events, Eventbrite, Lanyrd, and other such sites can help publicize the event and keep the prospective attendees up to date regarding developments. Prospective attendees can also indicate their willingness to attend the seminar by accepting the invitations sent to them through these channels.

Confirm the number of attendees to the seminar since this information is necessary for logistics like accommodations, seating arrangements, car pick-ups and even the catering arrangements. The confirmation of the willingness of the keynote speakers to attend is especially important very early in the planning stages since this will help in the designing of the logos, brochures and other promotional materials.

Select volunteers to help with activities like guiding and helping the seminar attendees. If they need training to familiarize themselves with their expected duties, ensure that they receive such training well ahead of the seminar.

After the Seminar

Analyze the outcome of the seminar, including the response of the attendees and their feedback in order to discover whether the aims of the seminar were met. You can also send out thank you notes to the attendees through emails and any other follow up, such as upcoming seminars.