You’re planning your company’s next meeting and you want everything to be perfect. You’ve got a location, theme, and date. The next thing to do is to hire a professional speaker. How do you choose the right speaker? And after you’ve found a speaker, is there anything you can do to help ensure that their program meets your expectations?
Here’s a checklist:
1. Do your homework. Many organizations and associations keep a database on speakers – who is good, who is not, who is reliable, who cancels at the last minute, and other details. See if your group has one. If you had a speaker last year you loved, use him or her as a resource to recommend someone who will be a good fit for your group.
2. Star? Or partner? Don’t assume that only a celebrity will do. Consider your reasons for having a speaker. Is it to attract more people to the meeting? Is it to motivate the sales force to go out and work harder? Is it to bring information that the audience could not get elsewhere? Or, is it to start the meeting off with a bang so that everyone is in a receptive mood for the real working sessions?
If you think a “Big Name” is necessary to attract the numbers you want, the investment may be worth it. Otherwise, you may want to consider using two more moderately priced speakers who will adapt their presentations to your group and even show up at a reception to meet the members.
3. Communicate your needs clearly. A common mistake in choosing a speaker is not being clear about your expectations and needs. Some meeting planners feel nervous about giving instructions to a celebrity, but whether you are paying $2,000 or $20,000, the speaker is there to do a job for you. The clearer you are about what you expect, who is in the audience, and what previous meetings have taught you, the easier it is for the speaker to do a good job – and the happier you will be.
4. Brief your speaker. Don’t assume he or she knows all about your organization or industry. Send information about your company, no matter how well known it is. Too much background is better than not enough.
Julia Carey, Employee Communications and Customer Service Manager for the Meredith Corporation, says, “If we are bringing in an outside speaker, I make sure I provide that person with enough information about the company to help him or her be successful. They need to know about our company culture, our key players, and our businesses when they talk with our people. I provide company publications and a write-up about the ‘mood’ of the company.”
5. Treat the speaker like an attendee. Make sure your speakers get all the advance mailings and information kits the attendees do so they know who else is speaking and if their time slot has been changed (and no one remembered to tell them.)
When your speakers arrive, make sure they have a complete itinerary and phone numbers of contacts. This way, you and they will have a restful night. Suggest they call you as soon as they check into their hotel. I make a habit of this and am amazed how often my clients tell me I am the first one who has even done it!
6. Schedule wisely. Putting the right speakers in the wrong time slots makes them the wrong speakers. Don’t schedule an economist or someone with highly technical information just before lunch or after dinner when everyone tends to be tired. Use them in the morning when the audience is fresh. A good rule of thumb is the later in the day, the lighter the content.
Many of my clients not only hire me to speak at their events, but also to coach their organization’s executives on their presentations or speeches. Now, with Fripp Virtual Training it’s as if I am coaching you and your team in person.
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Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp works with individuals and companies who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.