• Connecting Speakers with Audiences™

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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.

What if I become emotional during my presentation?

What if I become emotional during my presentation? 1707 2560 I Need A Speaker

A recent speech by Marriott President and CEO Arne Sorenson was lauded for its authenticity and effectiveness. During the speech, which lasted less than six minutes, Sorenson detailed the impact that the pandemic has had on Marriott’s staff and business. This brief presentation earned praise and admiration for Sorenson not only as a leader and presenter. Why? Because he showed his human side. He demonstrated empathy and sincerity.

As a public speaking coach, I have asked people to tell very personal stories, forcing them to dig into their hearts and memories to share intimate pieces of their lives. And when they do, they absolutely shine. They succeed because what they’re saying is deeply important to them, and these speakers have the credibility of a lived experience.

Often, speakers worry that they’ll become emotional while presenting, as Sorenson does. To some, they feel they have failed as a presenter. They believe everything has to be perfect and that becoming too visibly emotional will make them vulnerable. I remind them that it’s okay.

Some topics are just harder to talk about than others. If you’re sharing an emotional story or presenting about a topic that makes you sad, wistful, angry, regretful, or any other emotion we don’t often share with a room full of strangers, remember this: Emotion connects us in powerful ways. Your audience will relate to you on a new, deeper level, and the people who hear your story will remember it.

These tips may help the next time you tackle an emotional topic:

  • Take a moment if you become too emotional while speaking. Breathe. Then keep going. Don’t let emotion cut your speech short.
  • Realize we all feel these emotions; it’s not just you. Your audience relates to what you’re saying.
  • Practice several times to prepare for the more emotional moments in your presentation, and work on delivering those messages powerfully and at a reasonable pace.
  • Bring tissues. You may not need them, but it’s good to be prepared.

You got this.

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.

Can I interest you in some related material?

Can I interest you in some related material? 1707 2560 I Need A Speaker

When you complete your I Need A Speaker profile, you’ll be asked to choose a fee range. We’ve included “negotiable” as a response, because many speakers may choose to offer a somewhat lower fee – or even charge no fee at all – if they are allowed to sell services and products after their presentation. In an ideal situation, you’ll receive your full speaking fee and be allowed to promote your goods and services.

If you are in a position to offer paid consulting services or hope to sell a book, for example, check with your event organizer about sales and solicitation policies for the event in question. If the event budget is lower than expected, you may be able to use sales as a negotiation point. Engaging your audience and selling your products or services will likely increase your popularity as an expert and position you for top rates in the future.

Clarify and fulfill your value proposition

Clarify and fulfill your value proposition 1707 2560 I Need A Speaker

When event organizers contact potential speakers, they’re trying to determine if the speaker is a good fit. They want to be sure the speaker is affordable. They want to check availability and work out booking details. Although those are all important to learn, perhaps what matters most to the event organizer is the speaker’s value proposition.

As a speaker, what will you do for my organization and this audience?

That question is a critical one. Seasoned event organizers have specific goals in mind. Examples might be: teach new hires effective ways to close a sale; guide my organization through the process of improving our diversity and inclusion efforts; demonstrate good manufacturing processes for quality control; instruct the audience on ways to practice mindfulness. In other words, those planners know what results they are working to achieve. For best results, both the event organizer and speaker should in agreement about organizational objectives for the event.

If you’re a speaker with a strong value proposition, make it clear in your communications. In social media, on your website, and during personal conversations, don’t just list your areas of expertise or your credentials. Rather, state what value you’ll bring to audiences, and highlight past successes to reinforce your value. That’s what builds a positive reputation.

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