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How NOT to host a seminar…

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10 crimes committed by my hosts: How NOT to host a seminar!

I recently attended a breakfast meeting organised by a professional services firm and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not, one might think, for the best of reasons. So many things were wrong I just felt I had to share it with others to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes. Here is a list of what I thought WENT WRONG.

  1. I was a guest of, let’s call him Joe, who I knew had registered me; he had an email acknowledging this. I arrived and wasn’t on the list.
  2. I went into the seminar room and got a very luke-warm welcome by one of the hosts. There was no eye contact on the introduction and a begrudging “Would you like a drink?”
  3. By the end of the seminar there were 3 hosts and 6 guests. The time Joe and I had arrived there were 2 guests but only this one host; the partners ‘floated in later. I was told later by one of the other guests when they arrived it was 10 minutes before the host arrived!
  4. There were no introductions by the hosts
  5. When it was time for the talk I felt the host didn’t give any proper build up to the speaker.
  6. Then the presentation. It was a great topic and could have been so interesting and interactive. These are the areas for improvements
  • He read lots of the slides which were far too wordy
  • He did a memory test with us but then never bothered to check we had learnt something from it
  • One of the guests suggested ( 3 times!) some inter-active exercises; the speaker ignored him on all occasions. The hosts should have intervene at this point
  • I am not sure how often the speaker makes presentations but my impression was ‘this is my prepared talk and no way am I going to stray from my script’.
  1. After the talk everyone then looked at each other and it took some prompting by one of the sparky guests before everyone got involved. Little or no guidance from our hosts.
  2. None of the hosts asked for my card; I could have been their next big client!
  3. 2 of the 3 hosts left before the guests!
  4. No-one has followed me up. The least they could do is to thank me for attending.  (I have thanked them!)

So what should happen?

My belief is running seminars can be the best form of marketing if you’re in the advice-giving business.


1. You’re giving away free and, I hope, valuable advice

2. You are getting prospects, existing contacts and clients to give up their time for you to market to them.

3. You are building new or reinforcing existing relationships

4. You are creating a platform to generate further dialogue

You-v-Your audience

The reason you’re putting on the event, I think is diametrically opposed to the reasons your guests attend!

They are attending primarily to learn something at a zero or low price and maybe meet others by way of an added bonus.

You should be thinking the same reasons but the other way round. The key motive for you is to network with your guests.

In summary

Hosts at corporate events should behave exactly like they would when hosting social events at home. We all know how to do that.

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