How to Create Online and Live Events That Sell with Licia Rester

By Catherine Kontos@KontosCatherine

Welcome to a brand-new episode of the RetreatBoss™ Podcast. Today, we are excited to welcome Licia Rester, a distinguished expert in instructional design and transformative content creation. In this episode, Licia not only shares her invaluable insights into designing impactful hybrid events that integrate in-person and virtual experiences, but also provides practical strategies that you can implement right away. Whether you’re a coach, consultant, or content creator, Licia’s inclusive and engaging event design strategies are a must-listen.

We’ll explore how to map out a compelling transformation arc for your events and instructional programs, ensuring your content meets the specific needs of various client types, from solopreneurs to corporate giants. Licia will also share her journey of writing and organizing content efficiently, revealing how she wrote two-thirds of a book in just 16 hours!

Moreover, Licia discusses the benefits of working with existing content and developing new material, providing listeners with a roadmap to navigate the overwhelming world of content creation. She’s here to inspire and offer practical tools and training for those passionate about driving profound personal and professional transformation.

So, whether you want to enhance your virtual event skills or streamline your content creation process, this episode is packed with advice to elevate your approach. Stay tuned as we explore these topics and more on the RetreatBoss Podcast.

 

Watch the episode here:

How to Create Online and Live Events That Sell with Licia Rester

 

When it comes to planning a retreat, there are ways to get it to go from average to incredibly transformative. Welcome to Retreat Boss™, where we speak about inspired travel for fun, transformation, and profit. Guest experts will give you their tips and tricks on creating the most impactful retreats, both for you and your clients. Whether you want a meditative getaway, a wellness trip, or a business escapade, we provide you with the best advice in organizing and hosting a tremendous event. Join Catherine Kontos as she talks with fellow experts about creating exclusive and successful retreats. Dive deep into the most unique activities, the best destinations to visit, and the most uplifting trips out there that you can discover. Here is your host, Catherine Kontos.

Welcome back to RetreatBoss, the podcast. I’m Catherine Kantos, your host and founder of RetreatBoss™, and today I have such a special guest who will turn your community and your programs upside down in a way that you will love. Licia Rester, I have to say it right. Licia Rester has been an instructional designer facilitator for over 35 years with a specialty in transformational digital offerings and virtual events. Working with Fortune 500 companies, nonprofit organizations, and universities, she has designed hundreds of digital courses, web-based training, hybrid educational programs, online memberships, and virtual events. Licia, welcome to the show. I am so happy to have you here, and I know you will bring so much value to our listeners.

Thank you.

Yeah, thank you for being here. You are a trailblazer regarding this, and we could talk a little bit about your past history, but what happened during COVID is what turned things around for the virtual world for you. Let’s start with that. What is it? Where did you come from? A little bit, and then let’s get into like, the nitty-gritty of what is really prevalent today in everybody’s world, which is virtual events.

Sure. Absolutely. So, I had a background. I’ve been an instructional designer, as you mentioned, for over 35 years and really had the privilege and really, luck of falling backwards into the e-learning environment. It wasn’t something that was my intention, but it ended up that I got there and really flourished at the birth of e-learning. So, I’m definitely dating myself. So I’ve been doing lots of e-learning in-person design for in-person events, e-learning events, just all of that kind of thing. And as I continued in my career, what really lit me up was the idea of supporting really profound transformation.

So I like to call it true transformation with the criteria that is permanent, positive, profound change in an individual, whether that’s personal or professional.

Which really resonates with retreats, because that’s what we look for at the end of it is exactly. The words you just describe is exactly what we need when we finish with a retreat. So it goes hand in hand.

It really does. And as an instructional designer, so much of my effort was really focused on the workshop or the event itself. And what I discovered along the way, I became certified as a performance analyst. And the idea of that is, how do you really support sustained change? And lo and behold, the answer came in the most surprising way. I was partnering with an incredible in-person facilitator. We had designed a year-long program in soul-centered facilitation. It was remarkable. And he was a colleague who had run, at the time, 40 years of a very successful international consulting business.

Well, at the beginning of COVID in March, he lost in, within one month, a half a million dollars of client contracts and was at the verge of closing his business. So, because of my background in e-learning, I said to hold the phone. Don’t go too crazy. Let’s see if we can very quickly translate your offerings to virtual. And he was initially quite skeptical because he said, look, I’m known for really intimate, deep work. And I said, yeah, I know. I hear that. And yet, if we leverage the power and strengths of the virtual medium, we can actually create incredible results in the virtual medium, as opposed to what many people were doing, which was defaulting to its weaknesses.

So we created. We worked together and wrote, and, you know, he launched his virtual programs. Come to find out, because he tracks results, that he was getting better results in his virtual programs than he was in his in-persons, which were already stellar. So we wrote the virtual event mastery method, and it was really my response and his response to helping other people who are workshop leaders, coaches, consultants, who really have had a very rich in-person business. How do you take that virtually? And as we all know now, it’s really virtual first. We’re still in a virtual first environment. So there are lots of ways to create sustainment, which is actually one of our pillars in virtual event mastery.

How do you create sustainment? Whether you have an in-person workshop or a virtual one? How do you help people apply and integrate what they’ve learned in that event so they really can experience and enjoy real change?

And what is it? Is it something that you do as a follow-up afterward? What does the program entail? So you have a virtual event. It’s a one-time thing. How do you make it stick, that that transformation sticks afterwards and continuously afterwards?

Yes. Well, that’s the area where, first of all, part of it is designing what I like to call the arc of transformation. So when somebody, when a learner is embarking, working on learning a new skill and has this outcome that they really want, they have challenges, and then the solution becomes the outcome to the goal. That is, what is their journey of transformation. And so as a designer, we can think about them in the future well beyond that singular virtual event and support them in that journey well past the initial event. And really, what that does, it’s quite a win-win because it supports those who are deeply interested in really learning and shifting. It supports them in ongoing support, and it also creates higher ticket offers for the person so that they can really create a stable revenue source.

So we’re on the same wavelength. Right. And that’s why I felt that it was important for you to be on this podcast, because retreats, again, it’s the same thing. A lot of people are like, yeah, I want to do a retreat, fine, they do it. But they don’t think of the before, the during. They think about it, but not to the extent that I would want them to think about it and the after.

That’s right.

How that resonates not only with the people that, you know, helps the people that are in this program, but also helps you as a business to sell higher ticket items or continue that. And what’s even more important than all of that is to continue that community. Yes, right, exactly. So what would you feel would be most important as far, let’s go into, like, let’s say, the person who’s just thinking right now about what am I going to offer during the retreat? Is there something that they could do? Hybrid? Is it, you know, is there a program that they can implement that would be hybrid that would work, or is that not even thought of? Like, do you think, how, how successful would that be for you in your mind and with what you deliver?

Well, you know, taking a step back. It’s a great question, taking a step back. What I really teach is called outcome-driven design. So there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all. It’s really about the individual, and I’ll just call them the transformation leader, just for want of a better word, to really identify and really get clear on their audience, their audience’s challenges, pain points, objections, desires, goals, and dreams. So you want, as a designer, to really be audience-centric in your design. And so that’s where the answer to a question like that comes so. For example, is my audience one that really wants the convenience and the lower cost of virtual events, or are they ones that really love the community and magic of an in-person retreat in a lovely place? So those kinds of questions are really important as the foundation to answer a question like you have posed. In the kind of, the short answer is absolutely.

You can create amazing virtual events, amazing hybrid, which is considered at least previous to COVID. The studies showed the highest efficacy of learning comes from a hybrid environment, which makes sense, right. We go to, we have the beauty of the in-person, the magic of that, and then we back it up with sustainment, or we have a pre-virtual and in-person, and then a post-virtual, so that. So that you get the best of all worlds in it. Does that answer your question? Kind of. 

It does. What I was thinking, though, of, let’s say somebody wanted to do a retreat in person but also have the virtual option for somebody at the retreat, like at the event. So maybe a speaker is there, you know, and they could have them join during that speaker or during something that they can obviously share. Right. It can’t, you know, but dinner and lunch, they cannot be having better watching them. But I’m just saying, you know, like, something where they can share virtually, you know, it would also add to their income. And how would? How would we make it so that could look really good and really transform that person who’s not part of the event so they don’t feel excluded or secluded or isolated away from all this?

Right. Right. Well, there are definitely tricks to creating that welcoming and bringing the virtual participants into the in-person environment. And that really takes, you know, the idea of real one of the pillars. Let me take a little bit of a sidebar here. The five pillars that I teach for virtual event mastery are pillar one is content design. Pillar two is experience design. And that is exactly what you’re referencing right now.

Three is technology design. Fourth is facilitation, and fifth is sustainment. So, referencing pillar two is really what you’re talking about. The person who wants to create a hybrid event where there’s some people, some participants coming in virtually, and some coming in person really has to attend to the experience of both parties and to the connection, like creating activities and an environment that. A safe environment that really promotes intimacy and connection for all participants.

Is there specific platforms that would assist in this, like these virtual events or?

I’m sure, you know, I’m sure there are some fabulous software platforms that really isn’t my area of expertise. For me, it’s not the platform. I mean, yes, you can have platforms and it’s great to know what their bells and whistles are so that you can design to them like Miro. And all those kind of community-based platforms are fantastic. And I’ve certainly played with them and used them in my offerings. But I think for me, the more important aspect is really the understanding as a designer of how to create transformation, how to create safety, how to create intimacy, how to create engagement and deep connection. It’s software generic or software secular in a way.

So, someone hires you to do this for them. They have retreats, three or four events a year. They want to create a typical retreat live and want the transformation aspect to be amazing, as always. What would be your suggestions going into this?

The first thing I would do is, what I like to call, is creating a virtual plan. I’m going to assume right now, is this somebody that’s doing in-person retreats, okay. With a back-end virtual. I know this is theoretical, but a back-end virtual sustainment program, let’s just say that.

Absolutely, absolutely. Because that’s my program. If they’re in my program, it has to be that way because I’m in it for impact and transformation. Right?

Exactly. Exactly. So, let’s play around with this hypothetical person. I would suggest, first of all, that they create a plan, a plan that really maps the arc of transformation. It identifies what their outcomes are as a business owner. It identifies what they really want, knowing their audience, what the outcomes are, and the ideal outcomes that they want. And then, I would map really what I would call like a product pipeline or an offering pipeline. So there’s the marketing pre-events, which could be webinars, lead magnets, videos, whatever that is to get people onto the registration page. So all of that needs to be identified and really integrated into the curriculum because really, I sense that we are very aligned this way.

We want to serve at every contact point. So that means whether it’s an email series, it’s a lead magnet, it’s a webinar. All of that is going to really provide high value and ideally, some level of transformation, whether it’s on the mental, physical, emotional or even spiritual level. So that would be the pre-event. Then there’s the fabulous retreat, and then there’s an offer for the back-end sustainment package. So that would probably look like group coaching or one-on-one coaching, depending on what the transformation leaders’ outcomes are and desires.

Do you feel it’s the same across the board for anybody? Do you think it’s like, as far as that plan is concerned, do you feel like a corporate retreat which is more about team building and collaboration amongst the team and, I don’t know, creating enthusiasm, culture, vision? Would you feel they would have the same type of roadmap as, let’s say, a coach who’s a solopreneur, a coach looking to transform their clients? Do you feel they have to go through the same steps?

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No, I think it’s really, like I mentioned before, it’s really outcome-driven design. This is what we just talked about is a fairly generic sequence that I would say is more appropriate for a B2C, like a solopreneur or a coach or a consultant, really marketing to the public, to individuals. If we go into corporate, that’s a whole different design and one that has to be worked really, really not carefully, but really integrated with that corporation’s own culture. How they do training, what’s going to work for them, I mean, it’s really all over the board. Quite frankly, depending on what their training program is, and the availability, it could be something. I mean, there have been times where I’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies that will say, okay, this, we can’t afford our people to have more than 1 hour, you know, for something. Well, that’s going to be a very different design than a three-day retreat in Hawaii. You know, I mean it’s, it’s, it’s all over the board. Yeah.

So, Licia, if somebody wanted to do, um, wanted to create a program, simply a program, I’m not talking about retreats anymore. I’m talking about a program where they’re teaching some kind of instructional program. Yeah, an educational program, whether it’s through coaching or spirituality, but they’re teaching something to somebody online. Can you help with that? Do you help them make it interesting or impactful, or what is it? What kind of help do you offer when it comes to that?

Yes, that is my specialty is really working with people who want to offer deep transformation, whether it’s personal or professional, to their clientele. So what I do is I go about supporting them first and really identifying, helping with their audience, research identifying what their business outcomes are and then creating what I like to call a product pipeline, which is really an overview, a 50,000-foot overview of the sequence of products. And that becomes really important because they’re mapped again to that arc of transformation that I mentioned. One of the things that I find that a lot of coaches or people who are designing these types of programs is they have a lot of overwhelmed because they have gathered, as subject matter experts, they have gathered sometimes years or decades of insights, expertise, and approaches. It’s like a cacophony of content. And so they’re like, how do I wrangle all this and create an organized sequence? And that’s really, really important these days because we are in what I like to call a cacophony of content, in the information age. Really, the greatest service is to have a clean, step-by-step process so that people feel like you are guiding them through a very conscientious roadmap to get to their outcome.

So, to me, that is one of my most recent focuses, or foci, as the term is. One of my most recent ones is helping people create that roadmap.

I remember when you were describing that feeling of being overwhelmed that way. When I was about to write my book, I was like, where do I start? All this stuff that’s in my head. It’s not even a lot of the coaching stuff now. You record or something, you’ve written something. But this was all in my head, this experience in my head. And then, when I started, I needed help. Obviously, I hired somebody to help me with that because I was just like, where? Where? Like, I need a roadmap. I need somebody to tell me to do this first and do this second, and you need to write about this.

And so I feel like that’s the same thing, right? People are coming to you saying, I have a million things. I don’t know where to start with this. Do you know what my offerings and programs are? What do I write about first, and what do I write about second?

Exactly. Exactly. That’s. I think that the number one challenge that I encounter with subject matter experts is, really, where do I start? How in the world am I going to wrangle all of this? What is the sequence? You know, there are lots of important questions to ask. When you’re somebody who knows that you have a lot of a breadth of content. One of the things you don’t want to inadvertently do is create something that cannibalizes another level of a program. So it does; it needs to be mapped, really and what’s really cool that I’m so excited about is creating that kind of a roadmap not only supports us in the program or the course design, but it actually supports us in the entire product pipeline, the book, the courses, the programs, even marketing, everything, because we’re creating a content ecosystem within which all of our content can be created faster and more effectively.

Sounds like a dream.

It is. I’m so excited about it. I mean, quite literally. I’ll share one, like, really fun thing that’s really happening as we speak. So I am embarking on writing my fourth book, and congratulations. Thank you. Thank you. One of the things I wanted to do is really test out the speed at which I could create a high-quality nonfiction book.

I don’t mean, you know, like some of these crazy ads right now. It’s like with AI writing like, give me your keyword, and you’ll get a book in 14 seconds. That is just, for me, personally ridiculous because of how important it is to be the executor of consciousness as the subject matter expert. Nonetheless, I wanted to see how quickly I could write it and what I found in writing this book. Because I have a roadmap and took the time to design the roadmap, I’ve been able to write about two-thirds of this book in 16 hours.

Wow.

That’s the speed I’m talking about. I’m not talking about changing it from years to months. I’m talking about changing it from months to weeks and days.

Yeah, that’s amazing.

Yeah, it changes the whole game. Now, rather than me going, well, you know, I’ll write a book every couple of years. Now, I’m intending to write an entire series by the end of this year because of the speed I can get now, in terms of,

Oh, wow, that’s amazing. Sounds like impossible to me, but because I don’t do that.

Yeah, exactly.

I need that person to do it, and that’s going to be you. And then we’re going to say, well, it’s possible. So that means I can do it, too.

Yeah, exactly. And that is the point. It’s not just the point of finding a way for me to do it, though. It’s very fun for me to be able to do that for my own work, but it’s really about supporting others in a process that gives them a similar result. For me, one of the things I tackled at the beginning of this year was how I could really serve my clientele, who are coaches, consultants, workshop leaders, and content creators. How could I really move the needle for them? What I came to was, what are their biggest issues? Time is like the top issue. Most of these people are already overworking and have crazy schedules, so they don’t really have the time to create in the traditional way. So it’s like, how can I crack the code on time? How can I crack the code on sustained income? Another big problem is that it is a feast or famine that a lot of people fall into.

So those were the things that I posed to myself and said, okay, I really want to change the game. I want to be able to offer people a way to create rapid, accelerated, high-quality books, courses and programs. So how do I do that? And that’s really why I’m so excited about being able to say I’ve cracked it, and now I’m going, you know, to be offering.

And that creates more impact and transformation because you’re getting a lot more information.

Exactly. Yeah, exactly right.

Another thing I saw in your bio is that you also help with memberships as well, which it’s part of the products. But how do you help with memberships? What would be your role in it?

Well, again, I love to support people in creating the best in offering training and best practices. That’s that sustainment pillar. There are a lot of different ways that you can provide sustainment. There can be group coaching, there can be one on one, there can be a membership. All of these have just such wonderful benefits to being able to stay connected with your clientele and support them because we both know inevitably, there are going to be hurdles, challenges, blocks, and stuckness. That is just the path of learning and growth. That’s part of the whole thing. So, how can we really support people in that? And to me, that’s really where the real power of transformation is really helping somebody through the terrain that we are. Expert, you know, expert navigators. So how do you take somebody’s hand and say, I know this seems like really challenging terrain, but I have a way through.

Yeah. What about people who have a lot of existing stuff? Maybe they have courses, maybe they have retreats, maybe they have, but it’s not. And can you come in and organize it better so it could roll out better? And I’m assuming you can, right?

Yeah, I mean, yes.

Is it harder or easier? Because sometimes I find it harder because they’ve kind of created these things, and now you’re coming and saying, well, that might be wrong, or we need to change. Like, do you find that it’s a little more challenging to work with something that’s existing versus something that’s new?

That’s a great question. I think, you know, I think both have their pros and cons. If somebody has a lot of courses, then, like, for instance, I’m working with a client right now who already has some courses, and we’re leveraging that content, and we’ll be able to use that content in a different form. We’re creating a live challenge for him based on a course that he did, really boosting it and getting more engagement and more kind of fun while we create a live version of this. So it really depends. I think people who are prolific in content creation, I think they can really run with these concepts and do really, really well. I’ve had clients, even in my five-day challenges, when I’ve offered them that within one day of this first day, they were already watching stuff because they already, they got, they got it and were able to actualize it very quickly.

Yeah. Where can people find you?

Well, I offer, I have a link. This is for a actually a kind of getting started free bundle.

Okay.

If they’re interested. We were talking about your book right now, I’m offering a free training and what’s called a fast track. Your breakthrough book, blueprint plus training. Yeah. Yeah. So they can get started with that, kind of get a sense. I walked through, actually, the roadmap in that. And it’s not just about a book.

It’s really how to create a six-figure business through transformational content. So the book can be the first, like a signature piece, but it can also be an initiating webinar course or whatever. Yeah.

Not for anything. I just had a deja vu. Yeah, I had a deja vu. I’ve experienced. I don’t know, this just, I don’t know. Weird.

That’s cool. That’s cool.

I’m like, I’ve been here before.

Oh, I love that. I love getting those shoulder taps. How interesting. Yeah.:

So I will put that link in the description of the podcast. But is there a website or LinkedIn where people can actually connect with you one-on-one or directly with you?

Well, I would say they could go straight to my Calendly link. I offer, you know, little. I offer minutes, get-to-know-you sessions, and things like that. I can. I can send you that link, or if you want to wait, I can find it right now. I don’t have it.

We will take care of that afterward.

Okay. Yeah, I mean, it’s great to meet new people and support, you know, my real joy is supporting those who support others. That’s really my joy. It’s like I want to empower transformation leaders to be able to get their message of hope and healing out into the universe, out into the world to those people that could really be served by it.

So, yeah, happy to talk to anyone.

That’s exactly who I serve: the people who serve others as well. So, yeah, it’s just like a butterfly effect, right? You help, and then a bunch of people get helped.

I know, yes.

It’s amazing.

I love it. I love it.

Licia, thank you so much for being on our show today. You’ve given a lot of nuggets of wisdom for people to just, you know, get that idea of how this can be done. I can actually do it. There’s just someone that can help me. So, I really appreciate all the value that you brought in today, and I hope my listeners do actually connect with you because I think they’re going to get to where they need to be a lot faster than if they do it on their own, so.

Absolutely. Well, they know coaching by speed and efficacy, definitely. You know, that’s the world that we’re in. And as one of my coaches used to say, we’re already in our laters, you know? So now’s the time. Now’s the time to make your mark, to step out of obscurity and really share your message.

Thank you so much. And with that, that’s a wrap. Thank you for joining us today on Retreat Boss, the podcast. You can always catch the latest episode on retreatboss.com as well as any courses or any value that you want to get onto there. Again, thank you so much, Licia, for being here. I hope people do connect with you and they get the value that you just gave and plus, plus, plus, plus. So much more.

Thank you so much. It was really a pleasure.

Thank you for listening to the RetreatBoss podcast. When it comes to achieving wellness and transformation, nothing is more effective and profound than a well-orchestrated retreat. Achieve huge revenue growth one trip at a time. Want to learn more about expanding your business with retreats? Visit retreatboss.com. When profitable retreats are made easy, be sure to leave a rating and subscribe to the show at retreatboss.com/podcast. Podcast until next time, take care.

 

Learn more about Licia Lester:

 

About Licia Rester

Licia Rester has been an instructional designer/facilitator for over 35 years, with a specialty in transformational digital offerings and virtual events. Working with Fortune 500 companies, non-profit organizations, and universities, she has designed hundreds of digital courses, web-based trainings, hybrid educational programs, online memberships, and virtual events. As a coach, licensed therapist, and program leader, Licia has facilitated over 2000 participants worldwide in profoundly enhancing their personal and professional lives.

She has co-authored two nonfiction books, The Soul Purpose Method and The Virtual Event Mastery Method, and last year authored her first novel, Keys to the Last Resort, which is the first in the Self-Help Story Series that integrates psychological principles with neuroscience and storytelling to support readers in their transformation.

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