"I may not be famous, but I sure am organzied."
Leo said I should make that my slogan after I said it to him as we were getting ready to start my seminar this morning. I was hanging out folders of information to the attendees.
The seminar went very well overall. There were 18 attendees, including 6 from outside of Leo's gym. Not too bad, especially since I only had a week to promote it. I've seen black belts get fewer people (How can only 2 people show up to a Vitor Shaolin seminar?) I guess that's the benefit of being internet famous (which is not real fame).
One of the guys had never trained before and simply wanted to see what BJJ was like, and I think afterwards he signed up to train with Leo. It means a lot to me that my enthusiasm to teach and the clarity of my instruction could get across to someone who's just sitting in the corning listening with no experience.
I'll get into the technical aspects later (I've got my own notes as a teacher to post) but one thing I wanted to talk about was my attitude towards how I ran this seminar.
One time I was talking to a lady about how I'm going to a BJJ seminar, and she asked if we just sat around and listened to a speaker. I thought that was a funny idea, a bunch of guys in gis sitting in a conference hall listening to a black belt give a Powerpoint presentation.
But what I did do is start thinking about how other professions run seminars. What would I do if I was giving a medical seminar or talking about internet marketing (which I've done before)? I decided I'd try to go for that level of professionalism.
For starters, I planned ahead. I put together a really solid lesson that I worked over in my head, wrote drafts, made notes, etc. I rehearsed teaching it several times to work out kinks beforehand and get comfortable showing it. I printed out my notes and had them on a clipboard so I could make sure I stayed on track.
I went out a bought pocket folders, card stock paper, business cards, labels and pens. I put together packets (which I'll post photos of later) that all attendees got which included a registration form (which I collected), a seminar syllabus and a pen and paper for taking notes. I also included business cards with my contact info. They all got to take this home.
My sister helped organize a lot of this, so I have her to thank. She's a receptionist for a company that does seminars for doctors, so a lot of credit goes to her.
She also came and greeted people at the door, took care the all the paper work (waiver, registration), collecting mat fees, etc. That made it easy for me to stick to my job of teaching and working with people on BJJ.
Before we started, I tried to make sure to meet everyone individually to learn their name and shake their hand. At the end, I stood at the door and personally thanked everyone and said goodbye and encouraged them to write my with any questions or feedback.
I thought about all the things I've heard people complain about at seminar and things I wished had been done differently. Then I tried to prevent those things from happening. For example...
I know one thing that can bug people is when they feel they're not getting personal attention. I made sure to circle around the room during every move and see how people were doing, correct them, answer questions, etc. I had them drilling on a timer where I'd tell them when to switch, so I could make sure everyone got to drill enough, since I hate when one person drills for too long and then the second guy loses his chance when the instructor goes on.
I really wanted to make sure everyone was getting all of their questions answered, so I repeated announced that they should yell, raise a hand, wave, anything to get my attention if they need help. I didn't want anyone keeping quiet when they had problems because they "didn't want to bother" me or something.
As we were finishing up the last move, I asked if everonye had a chance to drill it. I got the usual mumbled "mmmh" reply, but it didn't answer the question. So I repeated, "No, really, DID EVERYONE GET TO DRILL?" Then they got it. "YES!" "OKAY, GOOD!" I wasn't just being polite -- I really wanted to make sure everyone was getting it.
Before moving on to too much new material, I asked if anyone had questions. I asked several times for qustions on ANYTHING at the end just to make sure no one was going away with concerns.
I was thinking about the different skillsets guys like Leo and I bring to BJJ. He's been in sales for years; I've done IT and marketing. My approach to things is to be very organized and follow a logical progression. But I also understand that this is a service business and part of that is making sure people feel cared for and know you're paying attention to their needs.
This seminar was a great experience for me, and I think it was good for everyone who attended. Expect more notes on how I ran it, since like everything I do, they way I sort out new experiences is to write them down.
I'll be posting more info on the techniques, my notes, photos and (!!!) footage next week.