I love to attend seminars. I view them not only as an educational opportunity, but also a chance to get away from the world and be with others.
While most of the seminars I attend (and it makes no difference if they are 1 day or 5 days, there are always certain things I look for to make it worthwhile for me, and the best use of my money.
- Does the seminar offer a variety of choices? I have been to a few seminars where it was the same people saying the same things across the months/years. Sure: they may tweak what they say a bit – and update it for what’s new – but it’s still the same thing. When this is not worth my dollars is when there are no other classes during the same time period that I can take. This because lost money in my book.
- Who are the speakers? If the conference promoter has done his/her job, the choice of speakers will have a well-balanced presence. I’ve been to both seminars where speakers were horrid and speakers were fantastic. Unfortunately, the downfall for the speakers who are bad is that they usually isolate themselves from the participants. I have a friend who’s a professional speaker and he ALWAYS makes himself reachable by the attendees. He makes it easy for the attendees to reach him after the fact. (He creates an email just for the event so he has some control over who he hears from and what he responds to.)
- Do you believe the content was the key? Anyone can read from a Powerpoint presentation. A good speaker, however, only uses a PowerPoint as a means to keep him/herself on track – not as the all encompassing presentation. In addition, I have seen some speakers who won’t share their PowerPoints. Why not? This is someone – in my opinion – who doesn’t want to keep the knowledge moving forward. (I gave up worrying about people stealing my stuff a long time ago. Haven’t it doesn’t mean someone else can do anything with it – even a competitor.)
- Can you really interact with others? I went to a week-long seminar where I did nothing but run from presenatation to presentation. Granted, it was a huge event – over 10,000 people – but there was literally no time to talk to anyone, let along find someone in a huge room after you met them the first time. (This is where business cards come in.) Now I stick to smaller events – under 1,000 people with 500 being the preferred number. I also make sure I’ve established contact with someone before I go so that I’ll have a “buddy” to hook up with. (With that said, I don’t recommend you share a room with someone you’ve never met. I have the experience from h*ll with someone the first time I did this and I swore never again. I’ll eat the cost of having the room to myself just to avoid doing through that agagin.)
- How is the venue comfortable? Those hard conference chairs are killer. I did attend a seminar where they had nice office-type chairs. However, they were so narrow that even semi-skinny folks could not comfortably sit in them. (If they had offered those chairs without arms, they would have been fantastic.) I understand the person holding the conference has limited choices, but they always have the choice to find a new venue.
- Is the price of food reasonable? Have you looked at hotel food prices lately. HOLY COW! $16.95 for a buffet lunch that isn’t worth more than $8.95? It doesn’t help that most people typically don’t have a car to drive someplace else so they are simply stuck at the venue. There has to be a better way to take care of this. I’m at a loss, however, and I’ve been a conference director!
- Would you come back again? For a while, I was attending a semi-annual event. However, I found after 4 times, it just wasn’t effective any longer. Sure: I loved the people and the speakers were great. But it was the same thing with only minor changes. One of the only reasons i attended this event is because it was in the major city where I live and it was very cost-effective. But, now it comes down to a matter of the best use of my time – and this event is no longer it. I am now on the hunt for another event that I can sink my teeth into.