Seminar planning is the process of organizing all activities necessary to hold a successful seminar. Such seminars may be a few hours in length or may last several days. Tips for effective seminar planning include creating a clearly-defined scope of work, creating a contingency plan, choosing vendors carefully, maintaining balance between activities and remembering to perform a post-event review.
A "scope of work" is a document or series of documents that detail all of the requirements of a project. This type of document is essential for effective seminar planning because it helps prevent unexpected problems and expenses. A scope of work for a seminar should include meeting space, entertainment, dining, and technology requirements as well as insurance and lodging requirements, if needed. It may also include information on speakers and their associated expenses and requirements.
While a comprehensive scope of work can help create a smooth event, unexpected issues can still arise. An often overlooked, but important part of seminar planning is contingency planning. This process involves analyzing the entire plan, identifying the most likely points at which something could go wrong, and developing a plan to cope with possible problems. For example, if the plan includes a dinner with a DJ and dancing, the planner should prepare a list of alternate DJs in a similar price range so that he is prepared in the event that the contracted DJ falls through.
Choosing vendors carefully can help with many of the challenges traditionally associated with seminar planning. Planners should compare pricing and quality for several vendors and may wish to ask for references from their top choices. For vendors such as caterers, requiring proof of liability insurance is wise as well. Seminar planners often keep a list of vendors who have performed well in the past so they can use those vendors for future events.
Effective seminar planning also requires a sense of balance. All necessary activities, such as classes, entertainment events and break times, should be taken into consideration in order to use the available time efficiently. Lengthy sessions should include restroom or telephone breaks and should be held in close proximity to necessary facilities. Enough time should be allowed between activities to allow participants to get from one area to the next without missing anything.
Seminar planning often begins with the post-event analysis of a prior seminar. This is especially true of recurring or annual events. Analyzing the successes and failures of a seminar can provide valuable information that will make future seminars run more smoothly.