How To Get People To Attend Your Conference Seminar

Are you involved with a professional association? Let us assume the answer is yes. You might be a financial advisor who belongs to an industry trade group representing your market niche. You might sell a product or service used by people in a specific industry. You might be an accountant presenting research to your fellow accountants at an industry conference. How do you fill seats in the room?

  1. Does your talk qualify for CE credit? People attend industry conferences for many reasons. One is the availability of sessions qualifying for continuing education credit. Many professions require licensees to earn a certain number of credits to keep their registration current. If your session qualifies, that should help fill the room.

  2. Are you a main platform speaker? Conferences often have a general session for part of the day and breakouts or workshops in the remaining hours. There are often multiple sessions taking place simultaneously. If your topic is of general interest and has a timely quality about it, perhaps you can be elevated to the main platform part of the agenda. This is usually arranged months in advance.

  3. Feed them. Free food works. If your session can take place at mealtime, conference attendees will be faced with a choice. Head out, stand in line and buy lunch or attend your session, sit down, have lunch served to you and eat for free. The price of lunch is sitting through your presentation. This is why lunch and learns are popular in the local offices of financial services firms. A product provider will come in, pay for lunch and explain their product while people are eating.

  4. Do you manage the endowment or scholarship fund? Financial advisors might have a specific niche within a certain profession. They want more clients employed in that field. When possible, a good strategy is to be selected as the manager for a pool of money owned by the association. They might award annual scholarships and have an endowment to provide those funds on an annual basis. This might get you onto the main platform as you briefly explain how the money is managed under your stewardship relative to the performance of the broad stock market. If you are doing a good job, people get the message you might be able to do a good job for them too.

  5. Team up with a high-profile expert. Every industry has respected experts in their field. Back around 1979, E. F. Hutton, a brokerage firm ran the TV ad, “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen.” (1) You would want to find the equivalent person for the industry represented by attendees at your conference. People might not choose to attend your session just to listen to you, but many more might come to hear or even meet the industry expert.

  6. Be an early morning speaker. Conferences might have multiple breakout sessions in the afternoon, but start the morning off with a general session after breakfast. Can you get onto the program with an early morning session before the general session? Some conference attendees want to soak up as much knowledge as they can. They might also be early risers. Offering a continental breakfast buffet can be another incentive.

  7. Get the right people interested. Some conferences are organized by delegations. This might be more common at global conferences where many countries are represented and the delegates travel and enjoy scheduled activities together. Can you meet with the heads of a few delegations? Can you make the case why attending your session is a good use of their time? Ideally you get them to commit to attending and bring a substantial number of their group with them.

When you present at a conference, there are many other sessions competing for the attention of attendees. There are ways you can rise above the crowd and make your voice heard.

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