Linda Gadkowski has presented hundreds of workshops over the past 12 years. Here are her suggestions on how to ensure that a seminar is successful.
1. Use visual aids. Some people learn by listening, but a lot of people learn best by what they see. Consider using overheads or creating a PowerPoint presentation.
2. Tell stories. "People love stories," says Gadkowski, "and besides, stories are the only thing people will really remember." Use real-life case studies from your own experience, or borrow case studies from other planners.
3. Don't assume what people know. Just because your audience is filled with intelligent, well-educated people doesn't mean that they're well-educated about personal finance. "Doctors don't know as much as you do," she says. "Don't talk over their heads."
4. Don't be afraid to be corny. Gimmicks like giving away money or chocolates may seem silly, but they help break the ice and get people to pay attention. (Just be sure not to leave the chocolates in your car on a hot day, or they'll all melt into one big lump, says Gadkowski--not, ahem, that that's ever happened to her.)
5. Provide handouts. Listeners feel more comfortable with something to hang onto, and it's also a great way to casually provide your firm's contact information to every attendee.
Be energetic. If you're bored, they'll be bored, too. Show enthusiasm for your topic, and your listeners will respond