Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

March 02 2015

4 Things Meeting Planners Can Do To Keep Their Speakers Happy

By David McMillin

Erin Meyer at Convening Leaders 2015

After you’ve negotiated and signed the contract with your cast of conference speakers, the real prep work begins. Here are four simple tricks to make sure your speakers love the meeting as much as your attendees.

1) Trust them — and their slides.

It’s your meeting. Naturally, you want everything to be perfect. While “everything” does include the spelling and appearance of the slides that will appear on-screen during a speaker’s presentation, remember that these are their presentations. These are also adults. Many of them don’t want to feel like an entry-level employee submitting work for a boss’ approval.

In some cases, these speakers don’t want their slides to be completely free of typos, either. For example, during Scott Stratten’s talked-about address at Convening Leaders, the marketing expert highlighted why he will not submit his slides for pre-approval. One of the sections of his presentation includes his social media interactions with Delta after an in-person debacle with one of the airline’s employees. Stratton aims to show just how frustrated he was by showing off a tweet that misspells the airline’s name. In an attempt to make his presentation 100 percent error-free, a meeting team took the time to white out the slide and correct the mistake.

WATCH: 5 Acclaimed And Affordable Speakers

2) Articulate everything you know about your audience.

Most speakers don’t have time to comb through the “About Us” section of your organization’s website. They can’t spend hours educating themselves on the issues and trends that are on top of your attendees’ minds. Be sure to offer your speakers a robust introduction to the attendees — their cares, their challenges, their responsibilities and their concerns. While some speakers rely on a few outlines for prepared speeches, the best ones will cater key areas to match the needs of each audience. This is your chance to arm them with the knowledge they need before they step on stage.

3) Give them opportunities to do more than speak to a big crowd.

Many of your speakers may be hoping to accomplish more than deliver a 45-minute presentation to inspire the attendee base. Whether they’re hoping to secure additional speaking contracts, promote new book releases or simply connect with fellow human beings outside of a big ballroom, look for opportunities to make their visits more meaningful than one speech. At Convening Leaders 2015, the meetings team added a range of Q&A sessions with thought leaders in the Learning Lounge that gave attendees the chance to get up-close and personal with some of the conference’s most well-received speakers.

4) Share your survey findings.

You aren’t the only one looking for actionable feedback from attendees. As speakers look to create stronger connections with their audiences, the findings from your post-meeting surveys hold critical insights. Was the speech a smashing success? Or was it an epic failure? Did attendees enjoy the delivery? Or was the speaker monotonous? Once you’ve collected your results, consider sharing them with the speaker or the speaker’s bureau to help fuel their future success.

SEE ALSO: 4 Common Problems With Post-Meeting Surveys — And How To Fix Them

Do you have any suggestions for ways to make sure speakers feel good about the time they spend at your meeting? Click here to visit Catalyst and share your thoughts on speaker management. 

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