• Connecting Speakers with Audiences™

The Business of Speaking

Energize yourself and your audience

Energize yourself and your audience 2560 1707 I Need A Speaker

If you want to energize your audience, you’ll have to energize yourself first.

Video call fatigue is very real, and it can be difficult for speakers and audiences alike to begin a presentation when they’re mentally, emotionally, or physically tired. We know this, but in times like these, we may not take our own advice.

Energize by walking outside, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and taking brief exercise breaks every hour. Even if you just stretch or take a short walk every 60 minutes, you’ll feel an increase in your energy level. And when you feel it, your audience feels it, too.

Observe. Learn. Evaluate. Observe again.

Observe. Learn. Evaluate. Observe again. 2560 1709 I Need A Speaker

Regardless of your level of speaking expertise, there is always some room to learn and improve.

Watching other people’s presentations is one way to self-evaluate, compare, and learn. Great speakers are literally at your fingertips. Type and search for names you know, or browse TED talks to seek inspiration.

When watching the presentation, consider these questions;

  • How does this speaker interact with his/her audience? How does the audience respond?
  • What resonates with you about the speaker’s appearance, style, and tone?
  • What would you do the same? What might you do differently?
  • How did he or she use visual aids, if at all?
  • If controversial topics or statements were included, how were they handled?
  • How were the speaker’s word choices, pace, and tone?
  • Did pauses add dramatic effect?
  • How, if at all, did the speaker use storytelling to make a point?
  • What are people saying in the online chat for the presentation?
  • Did the speaker have a powerful, memorable ending?
  • If you saw a panel presentation, did he or she interact with respect and diplomacy with others?
  • Did the speaker stay within the prescribed timeframe?
  • If you were an audience member, would you want to see this presenter again?

While constant comparison may not be necessary (and in some cases is advised against, allowing you to develop your own style), the practice of observation and evaluation is especially helpful for novice speakers.

Choosing the wrong speaker is scary. Here are four ways to find the right one.

Choosing the wrong speaker is scary. Here are four ways to find the right one. 2560 1707 I Need A Speaker

Speakers set the tone for your event and are responsible for a significant part of your audience experience. There’s nothing like the thrill of booking someone who really connects with your audience and leaves a positive impression. But when they don’t? Yeah, that’s a scary thought.

Follow these four guidelines when choosing speakers for your next event:

  1. Start early. Consider the expertise and personality of the ideal speaker for your audience and occasion. Know what you want.
  2. When you’ve narrowed your choices, visit speakers’ websites and social media accounts. Watch any of the speakers’ videos you may find. By reviewing their online presence, you’ll get a good feel for their presentation style.
  3. Speak with your top choices to discuss your event goals, audience characteristics, and expectations. Determine if the speakers you’re considering are a good fit with your vision.
  4. Check references before booking anyone. Ask questions about the reference’s experience with the speaker during the planning stage, their thoughts on the effectiveness of the speaker, and feedback from the audience.

See? Not so scary anymore.

Happy Halloween!

When one area of expertise becomes two (Part 2 of 2)

When one area of expertise becomes two (Part 2 of 2) 2560 1707 I Need A Speaker

In the last blog post, we talked about the benefits of identifying yourself as a subject matter expert in one particular area. Today, let’s talk about what happens when that topic becomes a “been there, done that” topic for you and your audiences.

By the time this occurs, you’ll have established yourself as a reputable source for information. A good way to maintain that reputation is to select a related topic and let your audiences, clients, and contacts know that you’ve got something new to offer.

While the two areas of expertise don’t have to be related, it makes sense to stay on a similar track, because you already know the public or client interest is there. Consider examples like this: a real estate development expert adds a talk on investing, a leadership expert creates presentations or programs on employee engagement, or an artist talks about selling his or her products online.

You have a lot to share, and so many topics to explore! Our best advice: start with one.

How one topic may lead to several bookings (Part 1 of 2)

How one topic may lead to several bookings (Part 1 of 2) 2560 1707 I Need A Speaker

When completing your directory profile on I Need A Speaker, you have hundreds of choices in terms of subject matter expertise. We offer this many choices for a reason – we want to create a way for event organizers to find speakers on a very broad range of topics. But that doesn’t mean each speaker should offer talks on a broad range of topics.

Say you’re a marine biologist who has enjoyed developing unique, successful fundraisers for years. You’re definitely qualified to speak on both marine biology and fundraising. Or you’re a museum curator who has a strong following as a yoga teacher … a judge with a compelling personal story. You get the idea.

Today we’re offering a suggestion to the speaker who selects multiple, related topics in the hopes of being booked more often. This may be someone who has been in a managerial role for some time, and he or she selects marketing, management, employee relations, leadership, strategy, and sales. While you may be very competent in all of those areas, event planners are typically seeking someone who stands out as a subject matter expert on one particular subject.

When you specialize in one area, people associate you with that topic, and your reputation builds. By choosing fewer areas of expertise – ideally, one – you may be requested for more events. As a benefit, you’ll likely need less preparation time and can continue to deeply study that one topic.

In the next post, we’ll talk about what to do when you (and your audiences) are hungry for fresh content.

Three tips for working with a sign language interpreter

Three tips for working with a sign language interpreter 2560 1707 I Need A Speaker

If there is any chance that some of your audience members require sign language interpretation, you should make arrangements to have an interpreter work with you.

Follow these guidelines to get the most benefit:

  1. Share your remarks with the interpreter before the speaking event, so he or she will be familiar with the terminology you’ll be using and will be less likely to make misinterpretations.
  2. Ask the interpreter to rehearse with you at least once to ensure that your presentation will run smoothly.
  3. Speak directly to your audience during the presentation, not to the interpreter. Both you and your interpreter should connect with the audience members using both eye contact and a coordinated message.

Know the importance of the debrief

Know the importance of the debrief 2560 1707 I Need A Speaker

We’ve become accustomed to requesting and giving feedback all the time. Order a meal in a restaurant, and one of the wait staff will ask if everything was to your satisfaction. Walk to a register, and a clerk will ask if you found everything you wanted. Purchase something online and … you know what’s next … you’re asked to review the purchase.

Many speakers miss one of the most important parts of their presentation – the debrief. I’m referring to that quick, 15- to 30-minute meeting with the folks who booked you, usually conducted a day or two after your presentation. The debrief is important for a number of reasons:

  1. You’ll have another chance to personally thank the event planner for hiring you, and you have another opportunity to build and maintain a positive relationship with him or her.
  2. You’ll receive important feedback on your presentation that you can use to make the next one even better.
  3. You’ll obtain more insight into what’s most important to the event planner. Use that information to promote your services for future events, highlighting the priority areas.
  4. You’ll learn if anyone has requested follow-up information about you or your topic, which can lead to additional networking and possible future bookings.
  5. You’ll have a conversation which may reveal other goals the event planner or company would like to achieve.

I recently heard about one speaker who used a debrief successfully to learn more about the client company’s vision and next steps. The speaker, who also had expertise that could be helpful in the client’s progress, was approached about returning to the company for another speech.

The speaker asked a series of well-phrased questions, which determined that only one more presentation wouldn’t be in the client’s best interest. Rather, the speaker suggested three shorter sessions with “homework” assigned in between planned speaking dates. Those three sessions led to much stronger results for the company, and the speaker was booked for additional work whenever possible.

A great presentation will please your client. A great presentation with a thoughtful debrief may delight you and your client.

Refreshments for your online meeting? It’s a (virtual) piece of cake!

Refreshments for your online meeting? It’s a (virtual) piece of cake! 2560 1708 I Need A Speaker

Serving food and beverages virtually is a trend that’s been welcomed in the online meeting/event/speaking world. Attendees love the surprise of receiving refreshments, as it helps to re-create some of the in-person meeting experience.

While you can’t network at a communal table, the availability of online gift cards, food delivery, and quick-ship retailers means you can “serve” everything from a plain cup of coffee to an entire meal.

If you’re sending electronic gift cards for coffee or tea, be sure to choose a national brand, so your attendees will find it convenient to use the gift card. If you’re sending coffee or tea to be made at home, your options are limitless. For something more substantial, conduct an online search for businesses that ship or deliver food. There’s something for every taste and budget, ranging from bagged snacks to sandwiches to full meals.

Now, all you’re missing is a lanyard with your name on it – but that can be arranged, too!

What speaker testimonials and product reviews have in common

What speaker testimonials and product reviews have in common 2560 1707 I Need A Speaker

I’m one of those people who shop for the holidays early, and packages have already been arriving on my front porch. While browsing, I’ve made it a habit to check product reviews before clicking on “add to cart” and completing my purchases.

Reviews tell us what people liked and what people would change about their product or service experience. Customer feedback, whether positive or negative, helps businesses adjust products, prices, policies, and practices to satisfy customers.

Speakers can also benefit from requesting testimonials from satisfied event organizers and audience members. Most attendees are happy to complete a quick online survey following a presentation.

To encourage future bookings, speakers can post testimonials on their website, social media accounts, informational materials, and other customer-facing materials. Event organizers will benefit from knowing about speakers’ past successes as they plan future ones.

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