I’ve always enjoyed the thought of being good at public speaking.

I remember being at seminars and conferences and being in awe of the people who could stand up and speak confidently.

It was for that reason that one of the many methods of generating business that I tried early on in my career was running a seminar. Although it didn’t quite work as I planned (assuming everyone who comes will just sign up to your personal training services at the mention of them is always going to be an ambitious goal) it did end up being something I repeated numerous times over the next few years.

For personal trainers, I think it’s a fantastic way to get in front of a large group of people, show them your knowledge and create authority.

Where to Start?

The first place to begin with planning to run a seminar for your clients is to decide on the rather obvious points of:

– Where you’ll do it

– What you’ll do it on

– When you’ll do it

– How long it will be

The where and when are down to you and your current situation.

I’d recommend doing it for a maximum of two hours and ensuring this is split into 20-30min blocks as people typically start to lose their attention after this amount of time.

The ‘what’ is a more significant question.

You want to find a topic that will:

  1. Entice people in
  2. Ensure you’ve got plenty to speak about, and that you can confidently speak about (knowing your topic is an essential part – you don’t want to speak about something you don’t know or understand!)
  3. Be able to keep engagement throughout

For the above reasons, the topic that tends to go down best with the typical client a trainer from LTB works with is nutrition. Most clients struggle in similar ways with this, there are loads you can talk about (you could even do a series), and there are plenty of fresh ways to present the information.

Coming up With Content

The next challenge is to come up with the content you’ll speak about and to present it in an enjoyable and engaging manner. The content section is relatively easy and can be solved by asking your current clients/ members of your gym (if you’re in a commercial gym this is an easy way to start conversations with gym members) what they struggle with and what they would like to see a seminar on.

Once you’ve got your content ideas down on paper, think about what you would like your audience to leave knowing. This should be the focal point of your talk.

The presenting side is more challenging as this is where most people typically go wrong. If you’ve ever watched any TED talks then you’ll know that a lot of those speakers don’t use slides and often if they do, they’ll use pictures or minimal amounts of words. There is a good reason for this, and it’s worth trying to think about doing similar with your content.

You don’t need to do five-word slides, but it is worth being aware of putting too much on to your slides.

Ensure that your slides are appropriately branded and easy to read. Err on the side of simple and basic rather than complex and intricate as much as you can.

I’m Terrified of Public Speaking – What Should I do?

Public speaking is up there with one of the most fear-inducing things to do, so the first thing to remind yourself of is that you’re not alone and that thousands of people have been where you are and got over it.

I used to fear the living daylights out of speaking in front of people and remember losing days of sleep in the lead up to any event I was speaking at, but it does get easier as time goes on.

Start by exposing yourself (gradually) to public speaking.

Start by speaking into your phone and recording yourself, or by talking into a mirror. Then you could move up to standing in front of your partner, family or friends. In my case, I used my co-workers on numerous occasions. The practice serves you incredibly well with something like public speaking, just start at a level that is a bit uncomfortable but not gut-wrenching.

There are also companies like Toastmasters out there who have been created with a curriculum that helps you go from nervous wreck to accomplished speaker. They are well worth seeking out.

You Should Know Your Topic Inside Out

Confidence will come from knowing your subject incredibly well. If you’re talking about things you know well, this will only help your ability to articulate it well.

If you’re speaking about subjects you’re not 100% sure about and you’ve only half-read up on, this will show.

Make sure you know your content as well as you know your home address.

Getting People to Attend 

Try to give your talk a title that people will understand instantly. An example for nutrition could be “5 Weight Loss Myths That Nobody Talks About” or “The Ultimate Fat Loss Seminar”.

You can also do the obvious things like post about it on social media, ensuring you emphasize what people will learn and how this will benefit them, and creating an event on Facebook and posting in this regularly prior to the event. Get your current clients to come and make a fuss in and around your gym about the seminar.

Don’t be disheartened by only having 5-10 people sign up. That’s still potentially 10 people who want to learn from you, and who can you give you feedback. The number is less important when your main reason for doing this is exposure and public speaking practice.

Everybody has to start somewhere.

How do I Get People to Engage With my Talk?

Here are a few tips that will help you get interaction and engagement with your talk:

  • Prosecco or biscuits on arrival – you can use this to talk about being “flexible” dieting.
  • Ask during your intro – “what’s something that confuses you about this topic?” and ensure you get around to answering these at one point.
  • Split it into 20min sections. After each one do a mini quiz on what’s been covered.
  • Use humour and well-timed stories. Try to come up with a relevant story for the beginning, middle and end.
  • Ask “who believes that X is true?” If yes then you move right, if no then you move left. Great way to get people moving, which could thus move into something like a discussion around NEAT.

If you would like more information on running seminars, check out LTB Podcast episode 63 or if you’re a member of LTB you can go through the running a seminar course.

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