Archive for the ‘meeting vendors’ category

10 Tips When Speaking of Speakers

June 12th, 2011

You are in charge of orchestrating a meeting and need to hire speakers. Ask the following questions to keep on task:Laura Schwartz

  1. What are the burning issues? Zoom in on the topics that need to be covered and the primary learning objectives.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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?
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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!

Ten Tips for an Effective Meeting Manager in 28 days

September 5th, 2010

First the story … then the tips!

Six weeks before the annual conference for 600 people is not the best time to begin your search for a meeting manager … four weeks is even less desirable. I had submitted my initial proposal about 75 days prior to major arrivals and followed up regularly without being a stalker. It was a complex program and I was doing my research a couple of times a week to see what new nuggets might appear that would give me some talking points. I knew my references had been checked so I was curious why we weren’t moving forward.
love to workFinally! Twenty eight days prior to major arrivals I get the call and it is all systems go! Some of the things that were completed were:
  • Research and secure an exhibit services company. Get the exhibit packets to the exhibitors, do floor plans, work on signage and security.
  • Schedule and hire temporary staff for registration and badge checkers. Also find and schedule security guards for the meeting rooms.
  • Find and schedule volunteers for technical duties. Find flights and ground transportation and manage reimbursement.
  • Work with the hotel on VIPs, staff rooms, speaker needs, menus, staff meals, transportation, amenities, and all special considerations in the contract. Speaker needs included hiring models, arranging piano delivery and researching translators.
  • Work with the committee chairs to tie loose ends and work it into the overall theme and timeline.
  • Review and print a 28 page program. Research several printers for price, delivery date and quality less than a week before the show.
  • Work on stage décor and miscellaneous audio visual pieces.
  • Write the survey content for daily feedback and print 3000 sheets.
  • Supervise the delivery and inventory of stored equipment.
  • Review no-shows and reservations changes daily.
  • Attend the pre-convention meeting to be sure we are set up for success. Maintain daily contact with the chairman’s needs and the hotel making changes as needed.
  • Research nightlife and plan social events.
There were moments when I felt like a firefighter … little blazes would erupt that required immediate attention and blazes were popping like popcorn all around us. We managed each blaze with a smile to keep everyone around us calm. The excitement was exhilarating AND EXHAUSTING but the show needed to go on. Once the first day was behind us, we knew the majority of the opportunities had surfaced and the program was in motion. The chairman was able to socialize with the attendees and knew that the meeting management was secure.  I made lots of new friends and was able to use my network of supplier friends to create great value for my client. We presented ourselves as a cohesive team so there was trust and warm greetings.
So here are the 10 tips for an Effective Meeting Manager:
  1. Ask lots of questions so the goals are clear. Get to know the key players and ask for advice.
  2. Prioritize those items that require more lead time and keep a checklist of those things that still need attention.
  3. Present at least 3 bids and be sure you are working with people who respond to deadlines
  4. Use the convention bureau for local referrals
  5. Don’t engage in SWAMP (Speaking Without a Meaningful Purpose) talk regardless of the pressure around you.
  6. SMILE even when your eyes are bloody from no sleep.
  7. Partner with the convention services manager to be sure they know your needs as they are ultraistic service folks who enjoy solving problems and they are POWERFUL! Respect the time the convention service manager is spending on the group. Insist they go home when there is no longer a need for them to be around. They are easy to reach if there really IS a problem you can’t handle.
  8. Watch the bottom line. Don’t say no … suggest alternatives that provide savings and be sure to praise generously.
  9. Manage the budget daily and get the final approved bill to the client within 10 days of the final guest’s departure.
  10. The final test of an effective meeting manager is when their fee is paid for with the savings the group enjoys.
I am pleased to say that my greatest reward is not the praise and testimonials, although those are exciting. The greatest reward is to earn the status as their trusted meeting planner and I will be planning and managing their meetings in the future.
If you know anyone who needs an effective meeting manager, please contact A2Z Meetings & Events at 813-990-0950 or It would bring me joy to put the pieces together for YOUR next successful event.

Meeting Supplier Relationships Make You Look GREAT!

April 22nd, 2010

AVISPLlogoThe job of a meeting planning professional is to plan and execute a successful meeting or event. We are not audio visual, website or catering experts. We utilize preferred vendors and trusted suppliers to put the pieces of our events together. Hotels will usually have a one stop shop approach and keep as much as possible in house but you can never assume that they will be able to do it all. Relationships with trusted suppliers will streamline the process and increase the professional polish to your meeting or event.

It is so critical to treat these relationships like family and be sure to communicate the goals and outcome as it relates to their performance so the end result is well orchestrated. If the venue treats your suppliers like they are “second rate” it WILL have an impact on your guests. Meet with your suppliers to see what special needs they have and how they will be able to perform best for you.

I have to extend a special THANK YOU to my friends at AVI-SPL Twice they have comAVISPL_recyclelogo_MPCe to my aid in very difficult situations and the outcome was seamless to the audience. Steve, Jim and Ivy are incredible ambassadors and seasoned professionals. AVI-SPL has several locations throughout the country and they are involved in taking the meeting profession to a higher level.  The audience EXPECTS a seamless production and that doesn’t always happen with the wave of the magic wand. Be sure to treat your suppliers right and say thank you for a job well done.

I have a related article about an incredible public speaker that you can access through my blog on my Linked In site listed in the website area under My Blog. Please take the time to view this to hear the miracle of how far reaching random acts of kindness to suppliers can be. Treat each other right!