My research lab organizes monthly “internal” seminars, where we give the opportunity to talk to PhD students around the middle of their PhD, as well as newly arrived post-docs (who can talk about what they did before and present their project). However, attendance is a big problem, and it's the same people who never show up, unless the speaker is from their group. I suppose good team leaders encourage their whole team to show up, while a few others have told me point blank that they consider it “wasted time”, because it decreases the time students can work at the lab bench. So, while they cannot forbid them to attend, they just discourage them.
So, I am wondering what we can make to help increase student turnout. What do you use to attract people to seminars? We have tried coffee and sweets, which didn't work very well.
Some specifics, if it can help: research lab is about 25 permanent staff, and between 2 to 3 times that number of students and post-docs. Seminars are held every month, rotating between teams.