Speaking up for remarkable talent

What makes a memorable conference or event? Many components need to come together, but creating something that people can really extract value from is not easy.

A standout speaker can be the difference between just another conference and a memorable, inspiring event.

Price over power
When it comes to celebrity speakers, one question that often comes up is: ‘Is it worth it?’ Often a big proportion of your event budget can be spent on getting a well-known face to appear at your event. How can we justify this expenditure and what will your attendees gain from this experience?

‘Celebrity’ is a contentious word and can cover a range of personalities in the spotlight. The celebrities we are referring to here are the kind that have achieved remarkable things.

Many of the personalities who are employed for corporate events and conferences have reported from war-zones, built empires, and have been recognised for offering something exceptional to our society. They are often pioneers and innovators in their fields, whether that be sport, journalism, comedy or academia. Naturally, the price tag attached to booking one of these personalities is reflective of that, but the return on offer can be significant.

Break the routine
As human beings, we become accustomed to routine. Days pass without anything noteworthy happening and it’s easy to forget how to really push forward in business and keep our innovative edge. That’s why conferences and company events can be so important for our employees, suppliers, and customers. Hearing someone inspirational speak about how they overcame adversity or challenged convention can really make a difference to the outlook of your attendees. Many of the stories told are captivating and truly motivating.

Gaining recognition and building a profile in the media is challenging; we mustn’t underestimate how hard these people have worked to get there and in turn what they can offer as a speaker. Communicating to your employees that you value the qualities of perseverance, tenacity and hard work can be extremely important.

There are celebrities and TV personalities in a variety of price brackets, so if your budget doesn’t stretch to the top newsreader of the moment, there are plenty of talented journalists who might suit. Talk to the broadcast agents for recommendations.

Weigh the risk
So, you’ve booked a celebrity speaker and your biggest fear has materialised: they have to pull out at the last minute. How do you cope with this?

There is an element of risk involved in booking a high-profile speaker. Demands on their time are high and sometimes things come up that must take precedence.

Most agents, when booking an event will have a contract outlining the course of action if this is the case. Of course, it’s far from ideal but most agencies or corporate bookers will work hard to find you an alternative that you will be happy with. Do, however, outline your expectations at the start for the eventuality that this does happen. The last thing you want is to end up paying a large fee but end up with a speaker that isn’t of the calibre you had originally booked.

If you are able to reap the rewards of booking a celebrity speaker you’ll often find the feedback from your attendees exceeds your original expectations. There is a wealth of personalities out there; each one can offer something unique.

Mel Hales is the Director of Rush Talent, an agency that looks after high calibre speakers and hosts, including Sky News presenter Hannah Tallett and Sports Reporter and Wheelchair basketball player Jordan Jarrett-Bryan. www.rushtalent.co.uk

This was first published in the September issue of CN. Any comments? Email Paul Colston

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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