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How to Plan a Health Seminar

Health seminar

A health seminar is typically a half-hour to two-hour event at which one or more speakers present information on a particular health issue. A "Lunch and Learn" seminar is an event at which people bring their lunches and listen to the speakers during a lunch break. A seminar may be large or small, or formal or informal. This document will give you planning tips on how to plan a health seminar in your community.

Ten Planning Steps

  1. Form a committee of sponsors and planners to discuss logistics of the meeting (i.e. theme, place, date, time, and  speakers).
  2. Ask speakers to present on a selected topic, and ask what type of audio-visual equipment they will need.
  3. Reserve a room, audio-visual equipment, and any broadcast equipment you may want to use, if available. You may want to videotape the seminar for future viewing. Be sure to get written permission from speakers or participants beforehand if you plan to tape them.
  4. After getting appropriate clearances, publicize the event at least 2 weeks before and the day before the event (i.e. through email announcements, flyers, and newsletters).
  5. Request speaker biographies and handouts. Prepare speaker introductions, and make copies of handouts.
  6. Obtain your give-aways if you want these as part of your event (i.e. for a nutrition seminar you might want to give away a healthy snack or product).
  7. Arrive early for the event to check on room set-up and equipment.
  8. Display handouts on each chair for participants, and place a "lucky winner" tag under 2 chairs for the give-aways.
  9. Introduce speakers, facilitate a question-and-answer session, and distribute give-aways at the end.
  10. Send speakers thank you notes.

Helpful Hints

  • Make sure speakers know their allotted time frame and how the whole session will progress when you invite them to speak. Review this with them again before they present on the day of the event.
  • Do not go over time, because if it's a "Lunch and Learn" seminar, participants will be on their lunch break. You may want to use a card with a 3-minute and 1-minute warning on it to keep speakers on track.
  • Find dynamic speakers who will keep the attention of the audience.
  • Ask participants to fill out an evaluation form at the end of the event.

Case Example

Below is an example of a "Lunch and Learn" seminar that took place at a work setting to give you an idea of how you might want to organize one in your community, including a faith-based setting, workplace, school, or civic group.

Name of event: Obesity: A Weighty Matter
Target audience: Male and female employees
Purpose: Two departments and the fitness center/ health promotion program office at the worksite planned this event together to gather employees to discuss obesity trends in the United States and specific ways to maintain a healthy body weight.
Outcome: Twenty people came to learn facts about obesity and tips to help keep themselves and their families healthy. The seminar was also broadcasted to various other sites throughout the organization.
Description: During their one-hour lunch break, employees came with their lunches to participate in a seminar featuring two speakers, who presented for 20 minutes each. The first speaker discussed obesity in the United States, and the second speaker discussed specific ways participants could improve their eating and exercise habits. A 20-minute question-and-answer session followed. There was a surprise give-away at the end to two members of the audience who had a "lucky winner" tag under their chairs. They won a tasty box of whole grain cereal rich in fiber and folic acid.
  • Sent out an email to key people throughout the organization to spread the word about the seminar and National Women's Health Week in their respective offices.
  • Sent out an email announcement to all employees two weeks in advance and the day before the seminar.
  • Posted flyers on bulletin boards throughout the organization one week in advance.
Planning Time: Four to six weeks, though you may need more or less time depending on your setting.

This tip sheet is provided as a service only. Some details may vary, depending on your organization's resources and needs.

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