Have you ever gotten back from a conference or retreat, only to feel so inspired by the other women in the room? The speakers, the networking, the hosts; all perfect. You want to take that experience and replicate it with your own dream clients. An amazing day or two with all your favorite ladies, sharing stories, teaching each other, feeling inspired by YOU and YOUR business -- not to mention, the kickstart to your speaking career!
But often, the idea of planning and selling an event like that is so overwhelming that most people don’t even get started. You can’t find a venue that you like; you’re too nervous to speak; you’re fearful of the potential costs. What if you don’t sell it out?
And just like that, the dream is crushed, stuck under the pile of “woulda, coulda, shoulda” ideas that are just too hard to execute.
Slow down there, boss lady. I totally believe that you CAN host a workshop, retreat, or conference and that you can sell it out (eventually).
But your first step is to start now and to start small, so that your dream can be neatly positioned on the top of the pile instead of crushed under the weight of planning overwhelm, lack of speaking experience, and budget concerns.
The Planning Process
Planning and executing even just a one-day event is hard (and I do it for a living). You’re calling venues, finding a space at the right price point, communicating with your potential clients, writing sales pages, marketing, ordering gift bags, maybe finding sponsors.
Starting small, with a small group of clients, means fewer balls to juggle. You can use a more intimate space, like your home, a local library, or a yoga studio during off-hours. You don’t have to bring in a professional caterer if you don’t want to, and you’re not bothered by sponsors who want you to market the crap out of your event. You can offer a lower price point, as your costs will be lower, and you can practice the more important stuff (like actually teaching and engaging with your attendees).
Your “Teachable” Moments
Teaching and speaking in front of people is a skill that takes practice. If you don’t have experience speaking or teaching, you’re going to feel nervous at the beginning of your lesson. From my experience planning, speaking, and coaching my clients, it’s much easier to stand up in front of a group of 5 or 10 peers that it is 50 or 100.
Plus, a more intimate group setting automatically encourages your attendees to feel comfortable sharing as well, taking much of the burden off of you to be the expert, and really allowing you to take notice of WHAT your clients are struggling with.
Until you start getting comfortable presenting yourself, and presenting your knowledge, do yourself a favor and start with a handful of women in an intimate room, where it feels like you’re sharing stories instead of standing up in front of the room, being an expert.
I mentioned this a bit above but I’ll say it in plain terms: your biggest upfront cost is going to be your venue.
And generally, those smaller spaces have smaller price tags. When you can only fit 15 bums in 15 chairs, your expenses are going to be lower, and the skin in the game is going to be less overwhelming and frightening. (Would you rather invest $100 for a venue deposit or $1,000?)
If you can host your event in a free or cheap space (think community centers, yoga studios, a friend’s backyard, daycare spaces even!), you’ll feel much more comfortable launching + selling your workshop because, even if only 3 people show up, you’ve still covered your costs.
Starting Small, Getting Big
Make no mistake: the amount of work you put into your first live event is going to be significant because your learning curve will be high. But if you start small, with a handful of your dream clients, and not as much of an upfront investment, the blueprint that you’ll automatically create around planning, communicating, launching, marketing, and selling out will be the icing on the cake for that BIG conference you’re aiming to host down the road.