It is 9 pm on a Friday night and I have just boarded my flight home to Dublin from Munich. I have had a very enjoyable week visiting customers in Munich to discuss speaker requirements for their L&D programmes and upcoming conferences. Before I settle into my weekend I check my emails one last time. Phew, only one mail from a customer who had one of our sports speakers at their annual conference today, like me, she just wanted to send off one quick mail before she closes down for the weekend. The email read something like:
‘ Hope you’re enjoying Munich.
Conor was fantastic! Everybody really enjoyed the session and personally, I learned loads! He is a very natural presenter and the themes are truly translatable to business. And of course, very nice guy.
Thank you so much for managing to secure him in such a short space of time. Let’s meet up soon.’
Conor O’Shea, Manager of the Italian Rugby team and a former Ireland International is the speaker she was referring to and the feedback is consistent with all the feedback on Conor for any event but no matter how sure you are that a speaker will be a good fit nothing tops hearing this sort of feedback from customer and reminds me of the purpose of the business I set up over ten years ago.
On the flight home as I sip a glass of red wine I think back about when I set up Personally Speaking after 10 years in public relations. The business grew from a place of passion rather than business acumen in the early days. Having come from a background in communication I truly believe that people who can tell stories are a wonderful resource and more compelling than most books or clips. A good storyteller with experience, expertise, knowledge or a funny story to share AND has is a good storyteller can change the shape of an event, excite, interest and challenge any audience, even the most cynical! The trick is in the selection of the speaker and then the briefing.
Here are some guidelines to keep in mind if you are looking for a speaker for a big or small event, try to answer these questions before you go looking for the speaker;
- What is the main objective of this event? What would success look/feel like? Tip – I often ask my customers what would you want the audience to say about the speaker for e.g, that he/she was inspiring, thought-provoking, a change maker, challenging, funny, empathetic, passionate, gave useful tips etc.
- How can a speaker help you make this event a huge success?
- Who is the audience and what do they enjoy? Sport, music politics, travel, adventures, personal development.
- If you have booked speakers in the past who worked really well and who didn’t and why? Make a list
- Who are the other speakers at the event? Consider these when selecting your speaker and the time slot for the speaker.
- What is your budget? This is important and best to know from the beginning.
- Talk to you preferred speaker agency, they will be delighted to recommend some great speakers and will probably have some fresh and interesting ideas too.
As we are heading into a busy season for conferences I hope this helps you in your search for external speakers. Aim to feel like my customer did after her recent event, she will not have been alone, the impact Conor made will have touched everyone in the audience and there lies the real brilliance of a great speaker.