You are in charge of orchestrating a meeting and need to hire speakers. Ask the following questions to keep on task:
- What are the burning issues? Zoom in on the topics that need to be covered and the primary learning objectives.
- What style of speaker do you need? Is the purpose to inspire, educate, entertain or technical. You may chose an industry expert, a professional speaker or professional entertainer. My favorite is an “edu-tainer” who is theatrical, motivational, speaks on the latest trends and leaves you with an action step checklist.
- How much time does the speaker have to cover their topic? Speakers need to customize their presentation to fit into the allotted timeframe and leave time for Q&A.
- Where do you find speakers? They are everywhere! You may connect with them on Linked In, at a conference, in a networking group, your industry associations, speakers bureaus (local, regional, state, national and international Speakers Association), convention and visitors bureau, chamber of commerce or ask industry professionals for referrals.
- Once you find a speaker that sounds good, what is next? Check out their website. Ask for a demo. Get a list of references and be sure to contact them personally for greater insight. I once read speaker reviews and brought in a “rock star speaker” who turned out to be from the stone age.
- Does the speaker have a contract? No matter what, get it ALL in writing. If your speaker has their own contract, review it carefully. If you need to write the speaking terms of agreement be sure you include everything you have agreed in terms that are complete with no instruction left out. Will they be permitted to self promote? If so, will a book signing table be needed for back of the room sales?
- Who is paying for what? Be sure to outline what the speaking fee is and if that includes ground transportation to and from the hotel, airport and/or home. Are meals and accommodations included? Are you making their arrangements or will they make them and be reimbursed? Be sure to do the check requests to insure prompt payments at the appropriate intervals.
- Will they have hand outs? It is important to have a memorable take away of some sort. If there is going to be something available, announce that in the beginning of the presentation so attendees are not scribbling every word and missing keys points. Who is printing and paying for these or will they be available on line? If materials are being shipped, where will they be sent and by what date? Nothing could be worse than having boxes shipped to the wrong place or arrive after the presentation.
- What are the speaker’s audio visual requirements? Much will depend on the size of your audience but few meetings take place that do not require a computer, LCD projector, screen, microphone, sound system, lectern and stage. We’ve all sat through the “death by power point” presentations and the emotional “here is how I did it” inspirations so be sure your speaker is engaging and requires audience participation throughout their performance.
- What should you ask for to promote their message? Get a CURRENT photo (I am thinking of the “rock star”), bio, engaging topic title, topic description and learning objectives. These items can be shared in your pre-marketing material and/or program headlines.
Be sure to send out surveys requiring feedback from attendees following the program. Communicate the results to the speaker and the venue since this is a helpful tool to keep all partners on the path of improvement and praise. Scorecards help shine the light on what we are doing well and what we can work on to sharpen our skills. Keep track of each speaker’s scorecard and write referrals for the highest achievers. Bring them back to let your audience know you their voice matters.
It has been my pleasure to work with so many wonderful speakers, authors and entertainers. There are many gifted experts that may be in your backyard and not require long hauls, overnight stays and additional fees. Talent does not have geographic boundaries. Consider degrees of the goal you can accomplish within your budget and negotiate a fair deal where all parties win. A2Z Meetings & Events is always happy to help!