Common Seminar Problems
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Avish: You know when we think about putting on a seminar, we visualize everything going perfectly well.
Fred: Oh yeah.
Avish: But things happen, sometimes things will go wrong. So let’s just talk about some of the more common problems that might occur and how to avoid them or how to deal with them?
Avish: First off, is you know, every so often you are going to get a dissatisfied participant. Somebody’s not happy. So what do you do with that person that’s not happy with the seminar?
Fred: Yeah, what you want to try to do is understand that that stuff is contagious. So you want to try and cut it out like a cancer and get rid of it. So you don’t want somebody who’s unhappy to be bitching and moaning and making everyone around them similarly inclined. So as soon as you notice that, you better pull someone on the side and say, “Hey you know what? What’s going on? And explains that this is probably really not for you,” and try and get them their money back and send them on their way and get them out of there as quickly as possible. So the last thing you want to do is have somebody who is negative. You know, continuing to spew their negative energy to everybody else in the room. Take that person aside. Figure out what the problem is. Give them their money back and send them on their way.
Avish: Okay. Now would you try it last until a break or lunch or would you just kind of stop the seminar so you could talk to that person?
Fred: You probably, it’s going to look a little bit too obvious if you do it you know. A lot of times when I’ve done, there, is some of the things where I’m going through my information I may come up with a reason to create an exercise. And that would be the great time, which is as I notice as the person is getting completely out of hand, find a way that I can create an exercise for people that makes sense and then go over and pull on the side and say “hey come over here” and just get them to leave. Find a way.
Avish: Right. And so, just so we’re clear, what exactly do you mean by dissatisfied participant? Is it someone who’s pushing back a lot asking too many questions or you know just verbally being abusive? Like what is in your mind it means to be a dissatisfied participant?
Fred: Well somebody who is verbalizing and basically fighting everything that you have to say with questions or comments that they are being you know loud or abrasive and their tone is sort of annoying to the group. Someone who is bitching and complaining about anything whether it’s the room temperature, the service, they don’t like the hotel, whatever it is. And those things are coming out for everybody that you hear. There are a lot of varieties of a dissatisfied participants, but the one thing is that no matter what kind of variety it is, it is contagious.
Avish: Okay. So you talked about niches now so what if someone’s not you know dissatisfied but they are complaining about the temperature repeatedly in the room or something like that.
Fred: Yeah. Well one of the best ways to take care of that if you can is to enlist that person to help create a solution. So if the person comes up to you and says you know it’s you know the room temperature is really cold in here and I would say “You know what? I think you’re right if they are. Could you help me out on that? I would love to get you help on that. Here’s what you need to do, here’s my hotel contact. Could you go and grab them?” and then they feel like when they feel like they’re part of the solution of the problem they bring up, then all of the sudden they take responsibility for getting done.
Avish: Okay. So what if you don’t agree with them?
Fred: Well if you don’t agree with them I think that the best way to handle it is you know I would say, to ask the rest of the group and just say “hey quick show your hand folks. You know is the room too cold for you? If anybody feels that way, could you please raise your hand?” Now inevitably they’re going to get a few. And just say, you know, if clearly the person who came up with the comment who is dissatisfied is shown to be in a wrong and say “hey you know then again, if they’re too cold. Is there someone just wanted to see if there’s who might be able to lend your sweater or something to the person sitting next to you?” And so, but like the idea of showing through the group and a show of hands and some of a show that they are in a very, very, small minority.
Avish: Okay. So what about you know we mentioned selling from the back of the room at some point you’re going to have to let people know what else they can buy from you. And some people in the audience are going to be upset of the fact that you’re doing a sales pitch.
Avish: So what do you do about that?
Fred: What I do is if somebody’s stands up and says “Yeah I don’t want to hear this sales pitch!” Which I can say, “Hey I completely understand how you feel, why don’t you start your break a little bit early. Why don’t you go ahead and take off and I’ll explain some of the resources to the people who are interested in hearing about it.” How’s that? So now, what can I say at that point?
Avish: Yeah — but that’s good point.
Fred: Pretty much game over for them.
Avish: Now what about something about who is not necessarily dissatisfied, but they start to dominate the seminar by asking a lot of questions or constantly adding their two cents?
Fred: Yeah, well, if somebody’s like that what I usually try and do is out of break or a self-created break through an exercise. Pull that person aside and say you know what sounds like you have a lot of valuable information with regards to this topic. I’ve got five minutes sort of later in a day and maybe would you mine putting something together so that you can give this to the whole group? And then that way you get them busy and occupied working on their presentation that they’re going to be freaked out to do. And you so probably you can get them up in front of the group and they can get out of all their energy doing that, rather than especially if they have good comments to make.
Avish: Right now, what if someone who’s just, what if he don’t necessarily feel comfortable that they’re going to have good comments to make but they’re still keep raising their hand that add in their two cents?
Fred: Well then what I would do is I would enlist the audience and I’d say to the audience and say hey do you guys think should we continue down this road and continue to answer these kind of questions or should we move on and inevitably someone will go “Shut up move on!” Let the audience make the person stop, not you.
Avish: So it sounds like for a variety these issues you’re suggesting is to get your audience on your side and get an opinion so you’re not necessarily being a bad guy you’re just trying not to disturb the entire audience.
Fred: Exactly, because for you to sort of dictate policy. Looks like, looks dictatorial and it’s not as effective as getting consensus by other members of the group, who then shout-down or make the decision for the person who’s being disruptive.
Avish: Okay. Any other common problems you can think of?
Fred: Those are pretty much the ones that we need to cover. So if people take care of those, I think they’re well on their way.
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