How to Start a Seminar Production Business

Target Market

Who attends seminars? All sorts of people who hope to gain all sorts of insights.

Businesses are big customers on the seminar scene. Large corporations, having gone through the economic and emotional trauma of downsizing, often decide that hiring out training and motivational seminars is more cost-effective than developing them in-house. Sometimes they send their employees off-site to attend these events; sometimes they invite the seminar presenter into their own facilities. Smaller companies are good seminar customers for similar reasons. They don't have the in-house means to develop training and motivational programs, so they rely on outside sources.

The most popular training topics include customer service and creative problem-solving, but they can also encompass internal communications and even math or reading 101. Leadership, self-motivation and sales motivation are also perennially popular topics.

Professional and civic associations are always on the lookout for keynote speakers to set off their annual conventions as well as to conduct workshops and conferences. Business networking groups are prime candidates for programs on motivation, time management, organization, positive thinking and goal-achievement. Medical societies want to hear about insurance issues, new surgical techniques and office management.

Don't underestimate the benefits of targeting small, local groups that have nothing to do with business. Churches and temples, senior centers, and men's and women's clubs can make terrific audiences along with singles clubs, single parents' groups, local sports clubs, civic organizations, networking groups, writers' groups, book clubs and garden clubs. Their budgets are likely to be smaller than those of corporate America or national associations, but you can gain invaluable experience, both in working with an audience and in market research. You can also gain prime exposure from these gigs. You never know what contacts you'll make that will lead to more lucrative engagements down the line.

Another valuable--and voluminous--market is the mass market--the public at large--which has a voracious appetite for self-help programs of every description. Take a look at the magazines on display at your local supermarket and at the bestselling books on view in your local bookstore. You'll get a quick idea of what people want: how to make money or save money, afford a home, find true love or save a marriage, raise successful kids, be successful, deal with stress, get healthy, lose weight, gain self-confidence, and again--the real key to all the rest--how to get and remain motivated.

Choosing Your Seminar Topic

The best way to start is by thinking about what you know, what you enjoy and what your potential customers need or want. Then test your ideas against the following:

  • Your topics must be things you or your presenters are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about.
  • You must have a large customer base from which to draw.
  • You must have a well-defined topic.
  • Your topics must address your audiences' wants and needs.

The most popular presentation topic for National Speakers Association (NSA) members is motivation (43 percent), followed by communication (35 percent) and business (30 percent). Rounding out the top 10 topic areas are leadership, change, customer service, management, inspiration, team-building and presentation skills.

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