Whether it’s your first or your hundredth, planning a successful seminar is always easier with a handy checklist.
To make sure nothing slips through the cracks, use these 16 steps to learn how to set up a webinar or host a seminar. Refer to this checklist at any point in your planning process to reduce stress and make sure no detail is left out.
Starting your seminar plan as early as possible
Once you’ve got the green light on your seminar (at the very minimum, four to six months before your event), it’s time to start the tasks below. The sooner you can check these tasks off your planning list, the better!
1. Establish your goals and objectives
First, write down your seminar’s purpose. Then, set goals for how many people you want to attend in person or to watch your live stream. Finally, set a clear profit goal, which will help you calculate how much to charge attendees.
2. Put together a rough budget
With your profit goal in mind, set your ticket prices. Reflecting on the expenses of past seminars or webinars will help you price your event competitively without sacrificing profit. If you’re not sure about some of the details, you can fill unknown budget categories with educated guesses based on some quick research. This extra step ensures you create a realistic budget so that you aren’t caught off guard by surprise expenses as your event approaches.
3. Select a date
Choose two dates — an optimal and a second-best for backup just in case.
4. Decide on your event format
Determine whether you should host your event online or in person. Depending on your location and target date, COVID-19 restrictions might make large in-person seminars difficult to host. A webinar can be a practical alternative that isn’t bound to travel or event restrictions. When you learn how to create a webinar you can keep your event going even if restrictions won’t let you bring people together. Consider a hybrid format if you need to cut down on capacity but still want your seminar to reach a large audience.
5. Research speakers, locations, and vendors
Start by identifying speakers who’ve appeared at similar seminars or webinars. Research each one’s previous talks and seminar topics to determine your top picks. If you’re planning a webinar, keep in mind that your speaker selection isn’t bound by location, since everyone can livestream from their home base. Once you’ve targeted your top speaker, reach out to them and solidify details like the date, their compensation, and the type and length of their talk.
For an in-person seminar, you should shop around for locations and vendors. Take these steps to narrow things down:
- Select your ideal geographic location and identify venues in the area
- Determine how many people will be attending your seminar to set your capacity needs
- Ask each venue if they provide WiFi and have the infrastructure you need
- Learn if your venue of choice has preferred vendors, and if not, identify local vendors you can rely on
- Review your contract and ask questions before signing
6. Start your sponsor search
Sponsors can help fund your seminar or webinar, letting you do more than you would if you had to fund everything yourself. Determine what kind of sponsorship activations you can offer. You can research sponsors who’ve partnered with similar seminars and brands who are trying to reach the same target audience to get ideas of who to contact. Compile a list of your top choices and begin with a cold email campaign. When preparing your pitch, our workbook will help you determine the market rate of your sponsorship packages.
Three months out: Digging into the details
Once you’ve got a framework in place, it’s important to keep budgets up to date as you receive estimates and quotes. That way, you can get a clearer picture of your expected revenue. This is also when you need to begin your seminar marketing efforts.
7. Finalize speakers
As your event approaches, you’ll need to nail down some details, like finalizing speaker fees and getting contracts signed. It’s also a good time to ask participants for their bios and photos to update your website and event description. Arrange travel and accommodations for in-person events and share these details with your guests as needed.
8. Organize financials
Keep your financial information under control to avoid any budget surprises and stay on track with your spending. Choose a ticketing or registration technology for your event so attendees can start booking their tickets. Reach out to your confirmed sponsors to finalize sponsorship contributions so you know how much support you’ll have.
9. Build your seminar website
A website for your seminar can generate buzz and attract attendees. Before you start building one, decide whether you’ll need to design an all-inclusive website or just direct traffic to your registration page. If you need a website, build it with these steps in mind:
- Get sign-off from stakeholders on the design
- Update your site (if you have one) or build a new site once you have stakeholder approval
- Double-check that your site infrastructure can handle increased traffic when tickets go on sale
- Make sure your website is mobile optimized
10. Start promotion
Seminar and webinar best practices require promotion of your event to establish your brand and build your audience. Promote your upcoming event with these steps:
- Develop a messaging doc aligned with your brand
- Incorporate your seminar promotion into your email and social media schedules
- Create a Facebook Event and promo videos to post on social media
- Distribute your seminar to online event calendars
- Use this template to plan your marketing calendar if you need help scheduling
11. Finalize venue details
Dive into the venue details as your seminar date approaches. For in-person events, you may need to work with your caterer on a menu, taking into account any special dietary needs of attendees. Book the necessary audio equipment for in-person speakers or a video setup for livestreaming. If necessary, review any security needs and design a security plan.
This is also the time to apply for any special permits or licenses that your venue may require. Create signage and an attendee communication plan to simplify communication before and during the seminar, which is particularly important if there will be COVID-19 restrictions in place.
If you’re webinar planning, research livestreaming options to find a platform that works for your needs. Test out different platforms to identify the right fit and learn what features you’ll be able to use.
12. Draft your seminar agenda
Outline your seminar’s schedule and decide who’ll speak when. Make sure every speaker has enough time to provide their input before you finalize it. Incorporate breaks into the agenda for attendees and speakers. Once you’ve completed a draft of your agenda, share it with decision-makers for approval.
Two months before: Finalizing details
With your seminar or webinar in sight, the days will start flying by. Here’s what you need to focus on in the two months leading up to your event.
13. Convince interested event-goers
It’s time to start attracting your attendees. Send regular emails over the next three to four weeks to let anyone who’s on the fence know that they have a limited time to register. Use retargeting ads to target people who started the registration or purchase process but failed to complete the process.
14. Finalize schedule and scripts
Distribute a schedule to your speakers and participants to ensure your seminar or webinar runs smoothly. Get sign-off on any scripts from speakers so they can finish preparing their remarks.
15. Update your stakeholders
Email your company stakeholders, speakers, and sponsors with final registration numbers so that they know what to expect at the event.
16. Confirm timings of all your vendors
Follow up with your vendors to ensure everyone arrives at the right time. Reach out to your caterer, A/V vendor, decorating company, and speakers and provide a detailed timeline in advance and answer any last-minute questions. For online or hybrid events, test your livestreaming equipment and do a dry run to make sure you’re ready to go live on the event day.
The day before
With the tactical advice in this post, you’re set to plan a successful seminar or webinar. As your event approaches, use this day-of checklist to make sure your seminar plan has everything is in its right place — so you can rest easy.