Like most people, I’ve done my share of being amazed at how the solutions to life’s day
problems are solved by middle-of-the-night infomercials. Having been a professional speaker
for almost 14 years – I’ve often mused at how hiring a speaker is frightening similar to buying
the cure to baldness in the form of a spray from some excited guy on the television. Let me
explain. Below I have outlined some of the parallels and how to avoid getting burned if you do
in fact hire speakers.
Marketing is Better than the Actual Product
Have you ever bought a product where this was the case? It looked so good in the ad! People
changed their lives by using this widget! In the speaking industry it is often said that good
marketing will get you hired. However, it is a good program that will get you rehired and lead to
repeat business. If you want to ensure that the speaker you are hiring is as good as or better than
his or her marketing materials, ask for a list of repeat clients and follow up with them to see why
they hired this speaker more than once. If a speaker can’t provide repeat clients, there is
probably a really good reason why, there marketing material may be better than they are.
One Solutions Fits All Problems
I remember an infomercial from the 80s for a knife that bragged it could slice through tomatoes
effortlessly, then it cut through a tin can. That’s a product that everyone needs! It probably
didn’t do either one well – but it could do both! If a speaker ever suggests they are the perfect fit
for your group without even asking about your group, approach with caution. Specialists will
ask specific questions to learn about your group to provide top value. And the real professionals,
will turn your business down if there isn’t a fit. He or she realizes that matching up with the
wrong fit is bad for the speaker and the client.
Credibility and Fame
Just because someone is famous, it doesn’t mean that the produce they are selling is good. Do
your homework. There are some great celebrity endorsed products and presenters. The best way
to kill the energy on a program is give the microphone to a celebrity that doesn’t know how to
control a crowd. If you are fortunate enough to have a speaker with a great draw that can’t hold
the crowd, use them accordingly. Try having them do a welcome (10-15min), do some Q&A
and then sign autographs. This will create the draw and still allow you to offer top
programming. Whether they are selling you exercise equipment or leadership programming, use
other peoples’ credibility to enhance your program, not bore your audience.
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