Believe it or not, most of the success or failure of your event rests on the shoulders of your presenters. Without their message, you have nothing much to offer beyond a networking function of like-minded attendees.
That’s why it’s vital you and your staff or committee take ample time vetting potential presenters. Many meeting planners let their presenter budget (which is usually low) dictate who they book. If you’re presently doing this, you’re undertaking a huge risk. It’s been proven, time and time again: If a speaker doesn’t connect with the attendees, the latter will not return to future conferences.
Below are good questions for consideration when looking to deliver the content you want with the presenters who are capable of delivering it.
A Guide for Selecting Great Conference Speakers
Remember, the overall goal is to select speakers who can deliver content in alignment with the goals of your meeting. In addition, a speaker’s presentation style should match your audience’s style of learning.
Ask About the Presenter’s Experience
- Be sure to describe your conference and how many attendees will, on average, be in the audience. Ask the question, “How many presentations have you given to audiences of this size?” If the answer is very few or none, stop the conversation and thank the speaker for his or her time. You don’t want to be the speaker’s large-audience experiment.
- When is your next presentation? Can I sit in on it? When you go, see how the speaker engages with the audience. Look at how the audience is engaging with her or him. Did the presenter get flustered at any point in time?
Ask About the Presenter’s Credentials
- Do you do speaking full time or part time? Optimally, you want a full-time presenter, as this yields a strong commitment to his or her profession.
- Are you a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) or an Accredited Speaker? Offered respectively by National Speakers Association (NSA) and Toastmasters International, these accreditations are given with stringent criteria for the speakers to follow and are coveted honors.
- Are you an active member in NSA and Toastmasters? Again, this shows commitment to her or his own training and development.
- Can you give me three referrals? Once you get them, be sure to call each referral. Have a short list of questions that includes how prepared the speaker was and how much he or she tailored the presentation to the audience.
- What do you charge? It’s important that you obtain a speaking fee from her or him in the initial conversation. If this is someone you want and the fee is higher than you expected, you may be able to go back to your manager and increase the budget or work with the speaker on a discount or trade.
- What’s the backup plan if you’re unavailable? As part of the contract negotiations, be sure to put in writing that finding an appropriate substitute for the meeting is the presenter’s responsibility, not yours. As an incentive for him or her to show up and/or find an appropriate fill-in, hold back at least one-third of the fee until after he or she presents.
Ask About the Presenter’s Availability
- Can you attend the entire conference? The best presenters are available to your attendees during other parts of the conference. They attend sessions and go to networking events. Attendees can ask questions as they think of them.
- Can you help in event promotion? If she or he is willing to do one or more of the following, you have a great speaker:
- Share your content on his or her social channels
- Participate in a media interview
- Contribute to your newsletter
- Write a guest blog for your site
- Create a video promoting your event
According to PCMA, meeting organizers only spend 7 percent of a meeting’s budget on presenters. Why so little? Because the expectation of many planners is presenters will speak for free. While this is often true, the old saying “you get what you pay for” is also relevant. Don’t be afraid to up the budget to obtain great presenters. It may be just what your conference needs to make it great again!
Kalahari Resorts and Conventions Has Great Spaces for Your Speakers
Each carpeted space at our conference center has state-of-the-art technology, including complimentary internet, independent room heating and air conditioning controls, a sound system and varied lighting. Please give one of our experienced sales professionals a call at 855.411.4605 to schedule a site visit soon!