One of the challenges you face when leading a seminar is that everyone in the room has a different level of experience with the information you are teaching. For some instructors and seminars, this does not matter. But for other programs, the disparity in education and experience can be distracting and even a hindrance. Audience participation is good, but when participation consists of entry-level questions that are far below the experience of the majority of the room, the end result can be frustration for all. Experienced attendees can become annoyed by the slower pace of instruction. Less-experienced attendees get frustrated when the content is too advanced to understand, meaning they’ll have a harder time implementing the material.
Here are 5 strategies you can use when designing and marketing a seminar to ensure that all participants have the background needed to understand your program.
- Adjust your presentation. As experts in our fields, it can be easy to lose sight of how much we know. As a result, we teach and forgot that the terminology and examples we use might be over the heads of people who are newer to our field. Review your presentation with a critical eye – where would it be beneficial to stop and add a bit more explanation? Taking the time to review information, define terminology and adding more background might lengthen your presentation a bit. But the payoff will be fewer questions about the basics and reassurance that more of your participants are able to keep up. For example, I often use Internet marketing terminology when talking to event promoters, because online promotion is an essential element of a successful marketing plan. However, some people I speak to are new to Internet marketing, so I need to define basic terms like “autoresponder,” “pay per click advertising” and “opt-in page.”
- Deliver pre-training by teleseminar or webinar. Prepare one or more lessons to teach registrants the basic information and skills they must understand to be able to keep up with the seminar you’ll be teaching. Require that all registrants participate in the virtual training before your seminar starts. Be sure to send them a few reminders to watch the program.
- Establish a prerequisite course. Create a separate seminar that delivers basic skills and information. Require your participants to attend this program before attending your more advanced program. You may want to deliver the prerequisite course via virtual training, so that it is more convenient and affordable to participate.
- Administer a test. Create a test that participants can use to gauge their readiness for your seminar. Then figure out a course of action for people who don’t do well on the exam. Do you want them to take a different seminar first, or will watching an introductory webinar suffice?
- Deliver supplemental FAQ training. Start paying attention to the questions that course participants have. When you see the same questions popping up, start to create a list of Frequently Asked Questions. Next, create a series of audio or video answers that answers the questions (one video or audio per question). Post the list of questions and the corresponding answers so that participants can quickly find the supplemental information they need. Refer to the availability of the FAQ training throughout your presentation so that participants know where to go for additional support.
Ensuring that all of your participants understand basic principles about your subject matter before your seminar starts is a service for everyone involved. Your participants will understand more of what is being taught – and be able to use the information to generate a return on their investment in your seminar. Other attendees won’t grow frustrated by interruptions to ask basic questions. Finally, you’ll be able to deliver a smooth-flowing program and have the confidence that your message is being received and understood.