When conducting a seminar, one of the first things that your participants will ask is: “Why should I listen to you?” Whether you are going to hold a one-hour seminar or a 3-day seminar, it is necessary that you are able to convince the participants to sit down, listen, try to understand what you will share with them, and keep an open mind. If you cannot do that, then every attempt you make to impart knowledge and insights to them would fail.
This section focuses on the most basic and essential requirement that every seminar presenter must acknowledge and use: selling yourself to your audience. Similar to when you are trying to convince a prospective employer that you are going to be an invaluable asset to the company, you must also be able to effectively convince the seminar participants that you have the credibility and the background to speak in front of them. You must be able to make them feel confident about you as their speaker. Unless you are already a well-known personality, you need to convince the audience that they will be able to gain a lot of information and helpful learning from you.
First Impressions Last
The very second that you step on that platform, your participants will immediately size you up and create their own impressions about you. This is why getting a positive first impression from the audience is very important, and will affect the entire course of the seminar. Among the things that need to be taken care of in order to make a good first impression is to dress professionally. As a seminar speaker, it is important that you wear the right attire for the occasion. Along with this would be proper grooming—clothes must be pressed, shoes must be cleaned, hair must be combed neatly, and the face should be made up. These things are necessary in order to project a professional appearance.
But aside from good grooming, one other factor that will help build a positive first impression is self-confidence. When you walk up the platform with a smile and a confident stride, the participants can easily see that and when they do, they will be more likely to believe that you have every privilege to be there and speak in front of them.
Once you have successfully created a good first impression from the audience, the very next step is to verbally sell yourself. What this means is that you need to be able to tell them what makes you qualified to speak in front of everybody. You should be able to answer the question: “Why should I sit here and listen to you?” Although you have probably been given a lengthy introduction before you went up the stage, it still pays to provide yourself a good yet brief self-introduction. In this part of your seminar, you should share with the audience relevant trainings, experiences, and qualifications that you have.
Keep in mind however that selling yourself is not exclusively about telling the audience who you are, what you do, and why you are in front of them. Part of the package includes your overall appeal. You must be able to look the part of a professional seminar speaker—in terms of your voice, physical appearance, and body language.
Make Your Audience Comfortable
Usually, the awkwardness comes in the first phase of the seminar. This is especially true if your audience does not know you, and vice versa. This is why it is also crucial for a seminar speaker to know how to make the audience feel comfortable listening to you. It really helps to keep the atmosphere relaxed and one of the ways to do this is to open with a humor, an anecdote, or even a grabber question/statement. It is a good thing to make the audience loosen up a bit before you proceed to the highlights of the seminar.
Making the audience comfortable is part of selling yourself because it speaks highly of how good you are as a seminar speaker. If the awkwardness takes a long time to go away, then chances are, the audience would get the impression that you are not exactly experienced at conducting the seminar and this will affect your credibility.