In my previous life as a speakers’ agent for top keynote speakers, I worked with a well-known non-fiction author whose name you would know; someone really well respected. That author did a lot of speaking on the strength of impressive book sales; multiple #1 New York Times bestsellers. The author was a good speaker. I say “good” because rarely was the sponsoring organization disappointed with the speech – but the author never got an emphatic, “That was great!” reaction from the event planner. When I would go to see this author speak, I loved the content but would come away a bit disappointed because the speech was read…word for word…while looking up occasionally.
A career as a speakers' bureau agent After 40+ years as an agent in the speaking industry, I now manage a small group of top experts who speak. In my new life, I work with most speakers’ bureaus on a regular basis. They often ask me if I know someone who'd make a great agent. Sometimes I do - but most times I don't.
The Stress-Free Event Photo Opp A photo with your celebrity entertainer or big name speaker is a lasting treasure for your event guests. Of course, like much of everything else in the live events business, there's only one chance to get it right. Earlier in my career, I was on the road with many high-stakes principals. I would run as many as five event photo opps a week for anywhere from 20 to 200 people. Feedback from the event planners on site was always so positive - they appreciated the process I used which made the whole experience much more manageable for everyone concerned. It’s in that spirit that I thought I would share the details of this photo opportunity plan, which incorporates the best aspects I’ve seen used by the high-stakes figures whose staffs had honed this to a fine art. I hope this event planner advice is a useful addition to your event planning checklist.
This is an event planner’s worst nightmare story. It’s a good example of why booking speakers is so angst-ridden for people who plan meetings and conferences. Speakers can be the great unknown; a black box where you haven’t a clue what’s inside until you open it up and the speaker steps on stage. In this tale, in spite of the best efforts to prepare, things can go horribly, horribly wrong and embarrass everyone in the organization, let alone make the audience very uncomfortable. This story took place during my agenting days and stars a very prominent U.S. Senator who, upon retiring, started to speak. I actually booked him for one of his very first appearances - to be keynote speaker for a conference in San Francisco.
First Came Tips from Top Speakers Recently, I posted blogs with advice from top speakers on how to assure success when you book speakers for your program. After all, who better to offer solid tips than the people who actually take the stage and hope to engage the audience? Here are links: Part 1 – the Venue Part 2 - Pre-Event Tips These blogs got some really nice attention from people in the event planning world. It seemed like a natural extension of this effort to ask top event planners for their advice on booking speakers.
THE EVENT PLANNER'S DILEMMA How comfortable are you putting political speakers on your conference or event agenda? If the answer is, “Not very,” you probably know you’re not alone. With valuable relationships in the room, being sensitive to the potential danger of offending attendees just makes sense. Many event planners are wary about booking political speakers and talking politics in the current political climate. On the heels of the most contentious election in my lifetime – one that saw families and close friendships torn apart – is it any wonder there’s apprehension about going down the path of talking politics at meetings and events?
You undoubtedly have an event planning checklist that you’ve refined/perfected over the years. Here’s a chance to perhaps refine it further.
YOUR EVENT PLANNING CHECKLIST: DOES YOUR ROOM SET-UP HELP SPEAKERS SUCCEED?
Just Released: What Made Me Who I Am by Bernie Swain
POPULAR BUSINESS SPEAKERS - DN EXPERTS IN THE NEWS DN has popular business speakers for events. Many have been in the news in the past week. Please see the updates below.