I work with many meeting planners and not long ago, I was scheduled to be the morning entertaining motivational keynote speaker for a large corporation. In a phone call to the meeting planner, I found out that she – unknown to the actual client – had scheduled me to speak while the audience was eating breakfast.
I’m known as a funny motivational speaker who actually has something to say and my presentations are highly interactive. The meeting planner knew that my client wanted me to kick-off the day with an informative, motivational and fun presentation and having me speak while the audience was eating would not only not achieve that goal, but also was a prime example of poor planning.
Meeting planners and event planners know that speakers are a prime component of meetings and making sure the audience receives the full benefit of the person speaking, as well as ensuring that the speaker has what he/she needs to effectively deliver the presentation, is essential to the success of the speaker, as well as to the overall event. When this does not occur, the result is a poor experience for the speaker and the audience, as well as “egg on the face” of the event planner.
The following 5 steps will aid you in making sure the presenter and the audience, as well as your client receive the full benefit of utilizing a speaker at your meeting.
1 – No Speakers While the Audience is Eating:
People don’t like to be disturbed while they eat. How do you concentrate or even listen to what a speaker has to say while you’re passing the salt? Oftentimes, due to the room set-up, during meals some audience members have their back to the stage, which means the speaker has the pleasure of speaking to the backs of the heads of the audience. (It’s rude to the speaker and the audience.) Presenters like audiences to pay attention to what they have to say and that won’t happen, if the audience is engaged in eating.
2 – Position the Audience Close to the Speaker:
Placing a dance floor or tons of audio/visual equipment in front of the speaker so that the audience is 20-30 feet away from the stage provides an automatic disconnect from the speaker. A good presenter wants to see the faces of the audience to gauge their program and make any adjustments. Keep the audience close to the speaker.
3 – Clarify Walk-On and Walk-Off Music:
Recently at a large meeting, they introduced the chairman of the board by playing an unrecognizable song by the late James Brown. Instead of applauding the chairman when he arrived on stage, the room went quiet… no applause. The COB just stood there. It was a very uncomfortable moment and that’s never good, when you’re dealing with the COB. Pay attention to the details. Make sure that you go over the music that will be used to bring people on and off the stage.
4 – Don’t Clutter the Stage:
I recently did a presentation where the stage was so full of plants and flowers. I thought I was speaking in the nursery section of a Home Depot. When the director of sales came up to speak, he said to the audience, “Wow – look at all these flowers! Who died?” Of course, everyone turned toward the meeting planner and laughed. Let me ask you, is that a “good thing?” Keep it looking simple and smart. Having a nicely decorated stage is appropriate, but don’t go overboard.
5 -Read and Follow the Rider:
Most professional speakers have a rider, which is a document that explains what he/she will need in order to do his/her job effectively. Speakers create riders for a reason – they know what they need. We have all heard the stories about rock bands asking for something as superfluous as brown M&Ms in their riders. Such a request is usually placed deep in the rider to see if – when band shows up – the asked for items have been provided. That way – the band knows someone has actually read the rider and the stage will be set for the band to do what they were hired to do. If those items are not there – someone is not doing their job. The vast majority of speakers have simple riders and will not request brown M&Ms, but they will request water, proper lighting, a/v, etc. Read the rider. If there is a concern, call the speaker and ask for clarification.
With regard to the meeting planner for my morning event – fortunately, I was able to have her “see the light” and she had me go on after breakfast. It was the correct decision.
Remember, the client hired the speaker to either be entertaining, motivating, informative or a combination of the above. You do a disservice to the speaker, the audience, as well as your client if you don’t help the presenter do his/her job as easily and effectively as possible. While the above 5 tips may seem basic to most meeting planners, they are details that are quite often overlooked. A meeting planner gets paid to pay attention to the details and by doing so you make sure that the “eggs” stay on the plates of your audience … and don’t end up on your face.
Funny motivational speaker Bob Garner works with corporations worldwide to improve employee and sales productivity and performance. In addition to being an entertaining keynote speaker, Bob is an author and syndicated writer.
©2011 Bob Garner. All Rights Reserved. You may use this article, but you must use the byline and author resource.