Convert Your Keynote to a Seminar


A client of mine delivered a successful keynote speech. She hit a nerve with one of her principles and was asked to turn it into a workshop. This was new territory for her and she wasn’t sure how to do it. We quickly got to work to help her make the conversion and add another offering to the mix.

In a keynote, the speakers share their stories using inspiration and humor. They enlighten, educate, and entertain and the audience has very little input. Audience interaction is expected more and more from keynotes but the relationship is more formal with the keynote speaker as the center of attention.

In a seminar or workshop, the relationship and balance of power changes. The purpose of a workshop is to learn new skills. After a keynote the audience leaves inspired and more informed but not more skilled. The canvas of a keynote is to paint broad strokes. The workshop or seminar paints in the details.

To convert a keynote to a seminar, start with the three main points or principles and begin to flesh them out. Take each principle or message point and make it the topic for a module. For each module, write learning objectives that are clear to the audience. Objectives are what will be achieved by the end of the module. Be sure to position the message so you can manage their expectations. The next step is to introduce the topic with an overview. Use the Tell-Show-Do process. Confucius said, “I hear and I forget, I see, and I remember, I do, and I understand.”.

How does this work? First, tell them about the skill. This is often a brief lecture. After explaining the skill, show them how to do it. That can be done through a video, reading an article, or by demonstrating the skill in front of the room. After the learners see the skill demonstrated, the learners practice with each other and receive feedback from their peers and the seminar leader. Summarize the learning and ask the participants to create an action step to ensure that they apply the skills to their real world environment.

Now rinse and repeat. Use the Tell-Show-Do process for each module.

Timing is more difficult in a seminar or workshop because of the audience interaction. Plan the timing for each section of the seminar including breaks. You’ll need to plan for questions during and after each module and manage group dynamics.

To be successful and maintain interest, use a variety of activities: video, slides, polling, games, discussions, paired exercises, role plays, simulations. At the end of the seminar, summarize the learning points and direct the learners to commit to actions to apply to their jobs and lives. To make the learning stick, offer to follow-up.

A speaker can deliver a message in a number of ways and one size doesn’t fit all. If you deliver a speech and you’re approached to train the audience to be more skilled, remember the Tell -Show-Do model and you’ll know how to convert a keynote into a seminar.