If your speaker truly is a valuable resource and you've gone to all
this trouble to get him/her ready to do a proper job for you, then
perhaps there are several ways to utilize the speakers' resources
on the day of their appearance.
In 20+ years of
speaking before more than 2,000 audiences I've encountered most all
of the difficulties that a speaker can encounter. I've been spared
a few disasters like having audience members pass away during my presentation,
but overall I would say I've met most of the challenges.
Through my contacts
with a lot of very wise meeting planners, audience members and other
speakers, I've identified some of the best strategies for eliminating
the problems and/or dealing with them as they arise. A description
of them follows.
Just How Much
Can a Speaker Do?
A meeting planner asked me sometime ago if I could do five presentations
on one day and three more the following day, all presentations before
different audiences, but on exactly the same subject. When I started
my speaking career I would have answered eagerly, "Yes!,"
but wisdom and experience have taught me differently.
What a speaker
does in front of an audience requires just about as much energy within
a one hour time frame, as a typical eight hour day working in an office.
With that in mind there aren't many quality performances possible
from one speaker in a given day. I've found that for me, even though
I have a rather high energy level, I'm only good for about three separate
presentations per day. It's interesting to me that a speech presentation
is similar in many ways to jet travel. The airplane uses up the majority
of its fuel on take-off and once it's airborne it can cruise for tremendous
distances without burning up an excessive amount of fuel.
I figure I'm capable
of three quality "take-offs" per day. The length of each
presentation can vary from 30 minutes to three hours, but it's the
take-offs that burn up the energy. Each time I'm with a new audience
I have to go through a psychological process with them to shift their
thinking to where I need it to be. Also, I need to raise their energy
to a highly receptive level so that they will absorb all of the information
I am bringing and participate, as necessary, in the program.
Talk with your speakers, ask them what they feel they're capable of
in a day at maximum energy. You might be able to get them to do more
than the optimum number of presentations in a day, but in doing so
you would be cheating yourself and your audience. After most of the
good energy is burnt up, the speaker will be giving only token performances
for the remaining audiences. Your audiences deserve more than that
and so do your speakers. It's usually better to assemble your audiences
all together and have your speaker address them as one overall group
rather than breaking them up into sub-groups and repeating the presentations
again and again. The larger the group, usually the more powerful the
impact the speaker can have on the audience.
First . . . The Speech Or The Seminar?
If your speaker is doing more than one presentation, schedule the
main event first. In other words, give your speaker a chance to speak
to the largest percentage of your audience first so as to establish
rapport, to psychologically orient the audience to the speaker's way
of thinking and familiarize the audience with the speaker's material.
Then if you offer a seminar by the same speaker, the audience will
already feel connected to the speaker and will be able to ask more
well-educated questions during the seminar. This also puts the speaker
at ease and allows the speaker to enter the seminar with a lot more
It's also important,
if you're scheduling some guest appearances by your speaker, to have
the main event before the guest appearances. In this way everyone
gets a sense of contact with the speaker and they look forward to
having one-to-one access to that speaker during the appearances later
on. Personally, I don't "do cocktail parties" very well,
I prefer to give my presentation to the group first and then attend
the social events. In that way the dialogue flows naturally from my
presentation, instead of centering around who I am and what I do.
It's also a good idea to require as little as possible from your speaker
prior to the main event. In this way the speaker is fresh and prepared
and able to give you 100 percent rather than a tired version of their
usual 100 percent.
If the Program
is Overtime, Whose Time Do You Cut?
Let's say your program starts late, for some of the many reasons we
all encounter in conventions, and you have on the program a high priced,
well-known celebrity who you booked so that the room would be full
of people and an interesting presentation would be received. Immediately
after the high priced celebrity you have a professional speaker who
was brought in to accomplish a specific objective through his/her
presentation; i.e. opening up the audience to new ideas, giving them
a different point of view, making them feel special because of their
good performance, etc. If the program is overtime, whose time do you
cut? I'd suggest you cut the celebrity's time.
The reason for
this is that the celebrity offers the most value to you simply by
showing up. Their name will draw people to the event and cause people
to enroll, their presence will fill the room and their presentation
will give the audience a special feeling that you have done something
wonderful for them. If the time they present is reduced, it does not
necessarily diminish their impact on your audience.
However, if the
time allotted to the professional speaker is reduced, he/she may not
be able to still accomplish the original goal for their presentation.
Unlike the celebrity, their value is not received by who they are
or the fact that they're there, instead the value from a professional
speaker is received from what he/she does and how they do it.
Get Them Ready
to Hear Your Speaker
Something that can be done to increase the impact of your speaker
is a "pre-introduction." A pre-introduction could be one
statement or an entire process. It consists of such things as publishing
some articles by the speaker in your company publications in advance
of the meeting. This begins the orientation process of your audience
to the message of your speaker. You can also begin to incorporate
products, i.e., books, tapes, etc., from your speaker into your training
or company meetings in advance of the convention so that the people
feel a sense of identity with the speaker and by the time he/she arrives
at your convention they will enjoy celebrity status. This makes the
appearance even more special to those who are attending. Another method
for the pre-introduction would be to distribute a tape recording or
a copy of the book written by the speaker in advance of the meeting.
This allows the speaker to streamline his/her presentation to get
directly to how the ideas he/she will present will impact the people
in the audience.
Why Not Get
the Full Dollars' Worth?
a real shame to spend all the time that's necessary to orient a speaker
to your organization, familiarize them with your products and services,
introduce them to your people, educate them about the business you're
in, and then have them leave immediately after their presentation
never to be seen again by your group.
If your speaker
truly is a valuable resource and you've gone to all this trouble to
get him/her ready to do a proper job for you, then perhaps there are
several ways to utilize the speaker's resources on the day of their
appearance. In many cases, the increase in costs will be so small
that it will cost significantly less than bringing in another speaker
even at a lower fee.
Here is what
When I'm booked for a keynote presentation, I immediately start reviewing
the convention agenda with the meeting planner in order to determine
if there might be workshops, seminars, or breakout sessions which
I might be able to conduct. If we can schedule the seminar after the
keynote speech the chances are good that the seminar will be full
and the people will be eager to attend.
In addition to
that, while I'm on site I can meet with a specially selected group
for a specific purpose. For example, I can meet with the top salespeople
to help them refine their skills even further, or I might even meet
with some of the salespeople or managers who are having problems to
help them solve some of the problems and overcome their challenges.
All of this without my client scheduling any extra travel or incurring
any extra expenses. Any time you hire a speaker, you deserve to get
a great deal of value from that person. These ideas should help you
work with your speakers in such a way that they have the maximum possible
impact on your audience and provide the greatest possible service
to your organization.
Have a great meeting!