Conferences vs masterminds vs retreats: The most common events coaches use, and which one can work best for your community

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     Deciding which type of event to have for your coaching community is a roadblock many coaches get stuck on. They want to make sure the time they spend planning is worth their while. They want an event that is at full capacity with a waiting list; one where their clients are delighted to be at and where their offers are “flying off the shelves”. But which event to choose, and where to start?….


If you have never planned a meetup, coffee gathering, or gaming session with your audience you need to stop here and check out my post “Plan Your First Coaching Event, with Amazing Results, in 10 Minutes or Less“. It is crucial that you at least have one event under your belt. One where you had the chance to engage with your community, learn what they are looking for, have fun, and gain that confidence as a host. Once you have done that, and have a better understanding of what your audience is looking for, then you can start planning your big event! If that is checked off your list, then let’s go.


What I like about retreats is that it is the only one of these three that only requires one expert, YOU! Therefore they are the easiest to plan as far as schedules and logistics. They can also be the least expensive of the three, and are more geared toward creative types of coaches.
A retreat is a getaway. An opportunity for your audience to come hang out with you in your element and learn from you. Retreats should be designed to immerse your clients into your brand from the moment they arrive. Each activity, meal, and lesson must moves them to be fully transformed by your products and services. It can last one day or an entire weekend. It can be at a local venue or in another country.
To start planning your coaching retreat think about what a fun day would be for you and your target audience. Most people think spa when I say retreat, but it can be anything! You can do paintball, golf, horseback riding, hiking, wine tasting, the sky is the limit! Just make the retreat fun and you will have no problem filling up the spots.

Masterminds are to speed dating, as Conferences are to night clubs


Masterminds are becoming very popular in the coaching community because they provide a lot of value to your community in a short amount of time. Think King Arthur and his knights of the round table. A group of experts at or above your level come together to discuss strategy and give feedback. You get to learn AND expose your audience to some of the best minds in the business.
To plan a Mastermind you need to start with brainstorming some players in your industry AND audience that can provide value to each other. A Mastermind is not a sit, listen, learn, and leave event. It’s a collaborative event and therefore it is important that you curate the attendees to best serve each other.  For example; Think of a genius introvert that hates networking, now design a table of many of those introverts and get them to talk to each other. It’s “forced networking” and it works. People will pay to be at a table with other people they don’t usually have access to.


I leave conferences for last because they definitely are the most complex of the three popular coaching events. You may ask, “But Joan, I can just book a ballroom, rent a projector, and have my conference”. NO you can’t. I mean you can, but we don’t do basic events that bore your audience around here. If you are going to do a conference you have to go into planning it as the best reflection of your brand. Otherwise this event can do the exact opposite of your goal. It can make you lose clients when they walk into your conference and see that your in-person experiences do not match your online experience.

Conferences are everything but the kitchen sink events. They can include speakers, breakouts, networking opportunities, vendor showcases, cocktail parties, and more. But the foundation of all conferences is to teach and sell. You stand in front of your audience and teach them more about your products or services.  Then you sell them the tools to put everything you taught into practice.

To start planning a conference, I would start with the product or service you want to sell. Then work your way back into everything you need to put your audience in the perfect mental space to buy. If you get overwhelmed with the details and to-dos of planning, checkout this free checklist I created that walks you through all the practical things you will need to hold a successful conference.

No matter which type of event you choose, the most important thing is to consider your audience. If you are not providing value for them and moving them towards a transformation, then you are just throwing a party for party’s sake. Provide value, make it fun, and sell away! 

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