keynote speaker

Why Public Speakers Fail

Professional speakers who are satisfied with the status quo will surely find their audience slipping away. Just like the car replaced the horse and buggy, dynamic, interactive presentations are replacing the talking head. Today, public speakers have to play a bigger game in order to give a Knockout Presentation. In a recent article entitled, Why Leaders Fail, the author cites the number one reason leaders fail and it's because they believe past success equals future success. There's a lesson here for public speakers and presenters. The article made me think about some of the public speakers I've heard. And just like in leadership, the rules of public speaking have changed. I've observed public speakers using an old time, one-size-fits-all presentation style. But what worked in the past, won't necessarily fly in today's market place.

Today's audiences are more sophisticated and demanding than ever before. The old, traditional method of the expert keynote speaker with the passive, listening audience, is an old model. Technology and social media have changed the game. Today, speakers engage their audience by using live polling for just-in-time responses, encouraging tweeting content, and interactive activities, even with large audiences.

Speakers have to look at their expertise differently and more creatively. It's not enough to be a standup keynote speaker. Today's savvy keynote speakers distribute their content through many media channels: podcasts, mp3 programs, white papers available on their websites, pre-program questionnaires or surveys, downloadable handouts, and youtube video clips. The focus has changed from "speaker-as-expert" to audience engagement and tapping into the expertise of the audience.

You can still take a horse and buggy ride, but it won't get you very far. If you want your presentation to have impact, you have to shift gears from giving a speech to taking a ride on the interactive highway and giving the audience an experience.

The Top Things to Consider When Booking Your Keynote Speaker

Back in September, I wrote about When Celebrity Speakers Fail to Deliver. This post generated interest and was re-posted as an article on the The International Association of Franchisees and Dealers' website. UK-based Business Growth Specialist Andy Gwynn commented that he liked my article and referenced his own list - The Top Things to Consider When Booking Your Keynote Speaker. I think this is an excellent list, so I'm sharing it with you.

How do you know that you have got the right speaker for the job?

1. What experience do they have on the subject that you want them to speak on?

2. Have you seen video testimonials of clients or attendees that have seen and heard them speak?

3. How detailed is their fact find of you when you speak with them?

- Do they ask you about your audience and what message /content/value you want them to deliver in their keynote?

4. Do they send you a comprehensive “speaker booking form” to help them help you get the very best value from booking them?

5. Do they ask about your organization's culture and the overall message or theme of your event?

6. What physical “takeaways” do they offer to give your audience, such as documents, downloads, books, cd’s, DVD’s, etc?

7. How focused on you and your audience are they compared to focusing on their needs, fees, expenses etc?

8. Can you speak with previous clients of theirs?

9. Do they ask you about your event and offer suggestions that might help?

- Like timings, sound and AV specifications, marketing.

10. Do they offer to stay behind after their presentation to interact with your audience or are they just going to “grab their money and run?

11. Do they offer any sort of follow up / contact or support for you or your audience?

12. How confident are you that they will “under promise and over deliver”?

Why the Early Bird Speaker Catches the Worm

When I first started out in my speaking business, I was hired by American Management Association to give public seminars in public speaking and presentation skills. One day, the program director sent around a memo stating that all AMA presenters were expected to arrive early to the class. It was not acceptable to show up at 9:00 a.m. What? Who would do that? I always arrived an hour early.

To be a good public speaker or presenter, you need time to set up the room.

When the curtain rises on a Broadway show, all actors are in place. But they don't show up 5 minutes before curtain call. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes of any performance. In addition to getting into costumes and makeup, actors warm up their voices and review their lines and staging to make sure they get it right onstage. The same is true for public speakers.

As a keynote speaker, facilitator, or trainer, you are giving a performance. What happens before the presentation is as important as the live presentation delivery. Master public speakers know that successful speaking is 90 percent preparation and 10 percent delivery.

So the next time you give a speech or presentation, arrive early. Practice the presentation in the empty room. There's something about getting the feel of the room that can boost your performance. Use the time to do some deep breathing and to visualize a positive outcome. And then get ready to greet every person who enters the room. This will create a positive tone and talking to people before your speech will reduce nervousness. It will also help the audience feel comfortable with you. Next time you're tempted to breeze in at the last minute, don't!

For a free checklist on what to do before, during and after a presentation, Like our facebook page.

 

When Celebrity Speakers Fail to Deliver

Last night I was a guest speaker for ABWA. My presentation was Speak Powerfully Sell More: Speak Your Way to More Business. One woman in the audience asked a question about how to handle a celebrity who is hired to speak and doesn't deliver. This woman went on a rant about how many of these celebrities are not good speakers and yet meeting planners continue to hire them. I explained that the reason for that was event planners want to sell tickets. An event will sell out when the keynote speaker is a celebrity.

This made me reflect on my own experience at conferences and I had to agree. I recall one convention where I signed up for the lunch event  for an additional charge. The guest speaker was a well known television personality. And he was late! We had already been served the main course before he cavalierly sauntered on stage in his jeans and pec-enhanced tee shirt. I enjoyed his stories but I couldn't get past his lateness. He never made mention of it. The woman sitting next to me had booked celebrity speakers in a past job and told me that they don't care if they're late. They expect everybody to wait for them.

It seems that some celebrities don't prepare or don't know the audience. One woman media personality gave a presentation about herself and her career path. Who cares? Can you spell BORING? Some celebrity speakers trade on their name and expect to be paid just for showing up.

A number of years ago, I was hired by the National Basketball Association when they launched the NBDL (minor league team). My job was to media train the team presidents and media relations people of these newly formed teams. The media training was well-received. One woman thanked me and said that she had recently been part of the Olympic committee. The committee brought in the "big gun" media trainers who were television anchors. She confided to me that these anchors "Just showed us videos and told us stories. But you showed us how to do it."

Once again, it's all about perceived value. I'm sure I made a fraction of what they paid these anchors. But because of their celebrity status, they were considered excellent media trainers.

So what is the solution? How can meeting planners and speakers bureaus ensure that the celebrity speakers can deliver? They can't.  Some guest speakers have a good reputation for consistently delivering a great keynote speech. Hire them. But let's say you want a particular celebrity for your meeting because you'll sell out your event, but you know the speaker doesn't have very good platform skills?

Don't give the celebrity the keynote speech. Instead, feature them as the main event for an interview on stage. Conduct the interview "Charlie Rose" style. Then hire a professional speaker who can wow the crowd or has strong content. The audience will get exposure to the celebrity or guest, the celebrity's ego will be intact as the main act, and you won't lose your reputation as an event planner.

When it comes to meetings and events, public speaking skills matter. The event is only as good as the speakers. The audience will pay to hear a celebrity, but if he doesn't deliver, they may not come back the next time.

If you book celebrity speakers, I'd love to hear how you ensure that they will deliver on the platform. And what do you do when they disappoint the audience? Would you hire a celebrity speaker the next time? Or would you try a less known presenter or entertainer?