Hosting a Successful Workshop
By Stephen V. Rapposelli, PT
Workshops can be a lucrative promotion tool for your practice.
However, presenting a workshop can be stressful if you haven’t done it before and are not prepared. Being prepared mentally and tactically can make the difference between success and failure in this valuable promotion tool. Plan and prepare for success with the suggested mindset outlined here.
Plan For Success
You must understand the goals of the workshop before you start. In rough order of importance, you want to: have a packed house, educate, have fun, entertain, demonstrate value, ask for their business, make an irresistible offer, have a plan to follow up, demonstrate scarcity, and give a reason to act now. Let’s dig in to each now.
Have a Packed house
- Make a flyer for the office, including time, date, and how to sign up. (There will be a link to the landing page where they can sign up. A landing page is just an online signup sheet).
- Make your landing page copy. There is an art to this. Use plain language and speak directly to the attendee using person-first language. For example, start with “Are you having trouble sleeping at night because your shoulder pain wakes you up?” Talk about their problem and really paint a picture of what you are going to help them solve. Be enticing with “Secrets revealed,” “My top tips,” or “Things a surgeon doesn’t want you to know.” Include pictures and graphics to make it visually appealing and easy to read.
- Be repetitive. I would have missed the last episode of “Friends” if they didn’t remind me every 10 minutes back in the day with those omnipresent teasers. You must do the same. Reminder emails (at least three) will remind your attendees that something good is about to happen. Expect for 75% of those signed up to actually attend, and don’t take it personally if a number of registered attendees don’t show. It’s better to over invite at this stage. One of your reminder emails could even “let” the attendee “sneak in” one loved one of their choice. And don’t forget to remind them that you only have only 20 seats, and anyone after that will have to stand.
For a one-hour workshop:
- Five minutes to open. No need to talk about yourself or your business—focus only on what you are going to reveal to attendees. Generate anticipation. Think about the lead up to the “Friends” finale!
- Five minutes to close (we will talk about this later)
- Thirty-five minutes to talk
- Fifteen minutes for questions
Hopefully that makes you a little nervous to read that last part. You might be thinking, “What if no one asks questions?” That is absolutely correct. You should give your talk so that there are questions! If you think about your talk as a book, did you just give them the entire book? If so, you probably bored them and you didn’t leave them wanting more. Only give your attendees the highlights of the chapters, not the entire book!
For some reason, PTs think that they must be serious and professional all the time. What we don’t realize is that we are competing with YouTube, Google, and television for our customers’ attention! You better be putting a little sugar on the end of the spoon, or else your medicine will not be taken! You want to look like you are having fun up there, and you want your customers having fun as well—and yes, they can have fun while you are talking about joint replacements or balance. It is beyond the scope of this article to teach you how, but trust me, you can do it.
Giving a talk is “show time,” so make it a show! Look at TED Talks. Which ones do you like the best? The ones that keep your attention, of course. Part of entertaining is getting the audience to participate. You are giving a talk about the musculoskeletal system, so get people to stand, check their own balance, work on posture, do a chin tuck—anything you can think of.
Plan your workshop so that the attendees leave with three concrete tips or three exercises they can work on at home. Discourage note taking! Why? See “Have a Plan to Follow Up.”
Ask for their business
Here is the major error that most presenters make: You do not ask for the business. You just gave your audience value, entertainment, and hope; why wouldn’t they want to give you business? Don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Make an Irresistible Offer
After you have given your talk, your audience will clearly love you, admire you, and want to know more! Now, make them an offer they can’t refuse. You can offer to stay after the workshop and discuss their problem more (don’t do that). You can offer a free phone consult of 10 minutes later this week. This is OK but not preferred, because you may not have success asking to convert them to a paying customer. You could offer a free, in-person discovery visit next week, so you can find out exactly if you can help them. Ah, yes—that is the irresistible offer! A 15-minute free discovery visit for you to determine if you can help them solve their problem; use those exact words!
After you have made your irresistible offer, adding an element of scarcity will further entice prospective customers. Tell your audience you have reserved only five spots next week for your discovery visits, and it is on a first-come, first-served basis. In fact, your receptionist is waiting at the front desk now with your schedule to book those five people. You can use any number you want but keep the number relatively low to promote the scarcity of your offer unless you want to work for free next week. Your goal is to convert 50% of your audience to discovery visits. If there’s high demand, take their name down and call them back to schedule more patients beyond the five who snagged the first spots. Remember: the discovery visit is where they really see your value and convert to a paying customer.
Have a Plan to Follow Up
Schedule an automatic thank-you email to attendees through your email platform (i.e., Constant Contact, MailChimp, etc.). Include a thank you in the email along with another call to action to sign up for a free discovery visit. If you recorded the workshop, include a link to the video. Now they can watch the presentation and gain affinity with your kind, smiling, knowledgeable face! Three more emails in your follow-up sequence, spaced one week apart, will be enough to bring in new customers to you.
Have a reason to act now
If you email me now, I will send the first 20 people my email sequence. (See what I did there?)
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Stephen V. Rapposelli, PT, is a PPS member and owner of Performance Physical Therapy and Fitness in Delaware. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.