Is it a requirement for all seminars to be boring? Seriously, I don’t want to be cruel and trample on anyone’s efforts but I don’t think I’ve ever attended a seminar that kept me alert and involved–let alone entertained. In a not-so-scientific estimation, I’m going to predict that the majority of seminar attendees are with me on this.
Why do we have seminars? According to the folks over at Brunel University in London, England, seminars create opportunities to:
- explore topics in more depth
- share ideas in a way that will advance your thinking
- learn from other people’s experiences and background knowledge
- gain points of view that you might not have otherwise considered
However, as beneficial as all of those points sound, author, R.B. Holbrook, says, “people only retain only 5% of what they are taught at a lecture.”
Five percent. Your name, the name of your product and the name of your company is probably close to 1% of that. So the true stat would come out to about 4%. Four percent retained in your lecture.
“But I don’t do a lecture, I conduct a seminar,” you may have thought after reading that.
Okay, then if it’s a seminar…why does it feel like a lecture?
Let me answer it for you…
BECAUSE EVERYONE IS BORED OUT OF THEIR MINDS!
Just because you, as the host, attended seminars in the past where some old guy spent two hours crawling through a slide show, don’t think that this a model you should follow. Trust me, if you hated it when you experienced it, the rest of us ain’t gonna like it either–no matter how great your company is. And the free bagels and coffee isn’t gonna make up for the colossal waste of time we all will experience.
I’m sincerely not trying to be rude but it is a waste of time. If you’re going to spend all the money to prep for an event like this by booking a hall, catering the food, paying a staff and renting equipment, wouldn’t you want the audience to leave with an incredible understanding of the content?
Of course you do. So, how do you achieve that?
Switch it up. Get away from normal or mundane and put on an exciting, interactive education “show”. Yes, I said a show. Something that requires prep and rehearsal. Put on a presentation that may require multiple people to pull off. If you can’t handle it, hire a team that can. At the end of the day, your goal for your audience is to retain the information. Take it one step further, if the audience works for your company, you absolutely need for them to retain as much as possible so that they can move your product more efficiently with higher production.
Christina Hamlett of eHow.com said, “If you’re not even halfway into the seminar and your listeners are already yawning, looking at their watches or working crossword puzzles, it’s a good indicator that you’re not keeping them totally engaged.”
Christina then continues in her piece and gives great tips and suggestions on how to get your audience engaged. It’s a great article and you can read it HERE.
Just take yourself back to grade school. Do you remember that history teacher with the monotone voice who said, “In 1734, the southern colonies were integrated into a large division of……zzzzzzzzzzzzz”? You don’t remember the rest right? Why?
BECAUSE YOU FELL ASLEEP!
You hated that class and you struggled to pass it because you found it very difficult to learn from that teacher.
Then why do that to your clients, peers, expo attendees or colleagues?
Change things up and make it fun. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is, people stay awake and retain information when they are having fun. And then they become advocates for whatever it is you’re teaching.
Enjoy yourself and they will enjoy themselves.