Top Ten Tips for Preparing a Workshop or Seminar Proposal
One way to build your business is to create interest and interaction with potential customers or clients. Offering a workshop or a seminar is a great way to get started. You can offer a workshop anywhere, but the best place to get started is by contacting your local adult education or community center. These organizations often offer classes, workshops, and seminars and advertise them to the local community both through printed catalogs and on their websites. You always have the option to rent your own meeting room and do your own advertising, but if you want an easy, no cost entry point and want the added benefit of having someone else promote you and your workshop, try going through an established community program first. Here are some helpful hints to get you started.
1. Research thoroughly.
If you don't want to supply your own meeting venue and you want someone to help with advertising, then you need to find a place to present your workshop or seminar. Contact various community organizations, adult education and other programs in your local area. Ask for a copy of their most recent brochure or check their website. Familiarize yourself with the classes that are offered, the pricing conventions, class lengths, times and other pertinent information. Also inquire as to when proposals are due. Often you must submit a proposal 4 to 6 months in advance of the course catalog issue date. Adult education programs usually have strict guidelines around submitting proposals, signing contracts, and prohibitions on advertising your business or giving out business cards. Also, find out about their fee splitting policies. Programs hold back some of your fee to pay for printing and advertising costs as well as for the costs of providing a room and equipment. Usually, you will receive only a portion of the class fee (perhaps a 50%-50%, 60%-40% or some other split arrangement) in payment, but will be allowed to retain 100% of the materials fee.
2. Getting Started.
Most likely you will be competing with many other prospective presenters. There usually isn't enough space, either in terms of the published catalog that many organizations distribute, or with regard to room accommodations, such that everyone's proposals will be accepted. To increase your chances, make sure you thoroughly understand the proposal requirements and guidelines. Find out if you need to submit a resume, professional references or even a copy of the course materials, in addition to your proposal. If this is your first application, most likely you will be required to attend an in-person interview. Remember, you only get one opportunity to make a good first impression.
3. One sheet wonder.
Take the time to design a one page proposal template which will include all the pertinent information relating to your proposed seminar or workshop. Your class has a better chance of being accepted when reviewers can easily read, find, and understand the information. Sometimes less can be more.
4. Describe your workshop.
Create a captivating title for your class which refers to your target audience and features some benefit they can expect from your class. One example of a class title is, 'Parents: 10 Techniques to Raise Your Child's Grades in 30 Days!' This tells the reader who the class is for 'parents, that it has content '10 techniques, and what they can do with that information 'raise their child's grades. Write a short description of the class, using plenty of action words and adjectives that can be printed in the organization's course catalog. For example:
Discover the underlying factors that draw people to one another in business and personal relationships. From having strong boundaries and standards, to creating the space to allow someone special into your life, learn the 7 techniques to becoming irresistibly attractive. (actual workshop taught by Tara Kachaturoff)
You need to price your workshop for the market. Some adult education or community programs have guidelines for setting class prices. Classes are usually priced within a narrow range, usually on the less expensive side. Include the price of your class in your proposal. Indicate whether or not there will be a separate materials fee to cover books, workbooks, handouts or other materials. It's important to understand an organization's fee structure or expectations before you price your workshop. For example, some programs might pay you 50% of your class fee, yet allow you to keep 100% of the materials fee. If you need to reduce your price from what you usually charge, you always have the option of reducing the amount of information that you offer.
6. Logistics and other details.
Make sure that you include details about when the class will meet, both the day of the week and the proposed date(s). Also, include minimum and maximum class counts. As a rule of thumb, a class minimum should not be less than 7 people. If less seven sign up, sometimes there isn't enough 'group energy' to make the class feel comfortable. You can always obtain class counts in advance and change your class minimum if you really want to go ahead with the class. The only caveat is that the people who do come might not enjoy you or the class if there just isn't enough energy or interaction.
7. Workshop environment.
Find out about the room accommodations in advance. What types of furniture and equipment will be supplied and what, if anything, do you need to supply? Will they have tables and chairs, overhead projectors, white boards, chalkboards or flip charts available for use? Will there be facility coordinators on site who can set up your room the way that you need? If not, you'll need to make plans to find resources to create the environment the way you will need it.
8. Prepare your material.
Make sure that you are well-prepared before your workshop is scheduled to begin. Your materials should be completed and organized for easy presentation, and should accurately reflect the course title and objectives. Make sure you have extra books, workbooks, handouts or other materials to distribute to people who enroll at the last minute.
9. Check the details.
As soon as your proposal is accepted, you will probably receive some sort of confirmation that includes the final class details. If not, ask for a proof sheet. Read it over carefully, making sure that the class title, description, class fee, materials fee, and course dates and times are all correct. Also, make sure your biographical information is correct. Confirm this information, again, once the catalogs are published and distributed. If you find an error at this point, it can be corrected, at the least, on their website.
10. Last minute details.
Contact the adult education or other venue one week in advance, as well as the day before your class or workshop is scheduled to take place. You'll be able to obtain preliminary class counts to determine the quantities of materials to bring. Always bring extras to accommodate last minute enrollees. Also, if the class counts are below the desired minimum, you can think about whether you want go ahead with your plans to present.
Copyright 2004 by Tara Kachaturoff.
About the Author
Tara Alexandra Kachaturoff is an executive coach, trainer, consultant and professional speaker with over 15 years of corporate experience. She coaches executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs on leadership, business and lifestyle issues and has been featured in radio, print, and television. She is the owner of CoachPoint', www.virtualleverage.com,and www.relationshipplanning.com.