Speakers come in all
shapes and sizes and areas of expertise. You name the topic, you can find
a speaker to do it .
Some are good.
Some are brilliant.
Some are so bad - well, forget it. Or cry.
Organising a conference
or meeting carries a huge responsibility. A lot of money can be at stake.
You may not realise it, but the cost of putting people in a room just
to hear a few words is surprisingly high. Let's say you have thirty delegates
at a session. Try this: thirty executives at $100 per hour is $3,000 per
hour! You can see why the message has to have impact!
The secret is ensuring
you don't engage speakers who have the delegates nodding
into their notebooks after two minutes!
The cost of the speaker is not important, but the cost of their
message is. A good speaker can cause the magic of an idea to become reality...
So how do you select
Too often organisers spend up big on other aspects of the conference and
economise by having some big-wig in the company address the audience.
Disaster looms. Think... If dear old Fred has been saying the same
few words for the past ten years to the same team - you'd do as well to
burn the money as engage him as a speaker! Or give speeches a miss entirely
or install a pool table. Why should an audience listen to a speech with
of impact cannot be overrated. A speaker with impact will be remembered.
A message with impact ensures success for the conference, the individual,
and the business.
When deciding on
a speaker, you should be looking at the following four things:
1. The length of
People are easily bored therefore it's essential to maintain the pace
of the session. Rarely will you encounter a speaker who talks for longer
than sixty minutes or an audience who can bear to sit and listen for much
longer. If there are no audio-visuals, cut the time to forty-five minutes.
A speaker who runs over time can throw your whole seminar into chaos.
These tips may help...
- Lay down firm
ground rules at an introductory session
- Use three minute
warning signals and 'stop speaking' signals to assist speakers.
Timing is essential,
for the speaker and the listener.
2. The Time of
The audience can concentrate better in the morning; concentration deteriorates
as the day grows older. Consider these aspects when deciding which speakers
should be on at which times:
- Technical or more
challenging material should be presented in morning sessions.
- Speeches should
be shorter as the day progresses.
- Panels of speakers
work well in afternoon sessions.
- More frequent
changes of speaker and activities as the day wears on.
3. Style and Presentation:
It's hard to avoid the odd drone. But whenever possible, book
talented, interesting people so delegates will leave with an overall impression
that the conference was worth the effort.
- talking heads
- peakers who rely
on talking visuals with only occasional input.
- speakers who talk
a lot, uses only a few slides
- speakers who like
total audience participation.
Big budgets = no limits.
But even with little money, there's much you can do. However the less
money you have, the more careful you have to be.
About the Speaker:
When you're booking speakers, thoroughly check out the following four
Area of Expertise:
Select the best speaker for your conference and theme. No point in asking
a time-management expert to help you solve the aerodynamics of the string
What effect are you after? A light and breezy approach? Inspirational?
Witty? Someone who can make difficult technical concepts clear and interesting?
Look at the session time, look at the projected speech length, look at
the conference theme, then make your choice.
Being a "new kid on the block" doesn't mean the speaker won't deliver
the goods. Taking a punt on a new speaker and can't get feedback? Try
them out in a short speech session first. It's rarely worth investing
money in a speaker with a so-so reputation. Book early to get the most
suitable person, not the only one left on the list.
Attitudes and Values:
Try to ensure that your speaker's attitudes and values mirror those of
most of the delegates - especially the values of the company. If you're
espousing ethical business procedures and restraint, it's not wise to
choose a speaker who's renowned for a being a shark.
And there you have
it - the A to Z of selecting savvy speakers. Choose wisely, and your conference
will be memorable for more than the hangovers.