by Nick Gold, managing director, Speakers Corner
The headline above seems such a simple bit of advice, but it is a vital first step the start of the journey, one which opens up a stream of endless possibilities and ensures successful deliverables from your event speaker.
The person you’ve seen on television or the adventurer who conquered Everest – how can you really tell whether they are the same personality live as the one you see on your screen? Or that they can turn the mountain into a visual picture which enthrals and challenges your audience?
As such, it’s vital from the get-go to define what you want from the particular event, whether an award ceremony or a conference, and then ensure they are the criteria you are looking for from the speaker. Also, there needs to be an appreciation that one person’s current favourite personality is not necessarily a representation of every delegate. Empathy is important; notoriety and a controversial profile is not always a winner unless the organiser fully understands the audience.
Of course, the more specific you are with the type of speaker or sector that you are looking for, the less choice there will be of speaker available.
The best speakers do not need to be an expert in exactly what is being looked for, they will research and ensure they have the expertise to deliver to the audience, so thinking a little more esoterically is not necessarily a bad thing and might offer a fresh perspective on key issues.
When a client is looking for (as examples) ‘a Malay speaking English TV presenter with a science background’ or a ‘speaker with an expertise in emotional intelligence, specifically in the Mayer Salovey model’, we question if the client is not fully focused on what they are trying to achieve, but are instead looking to tick boxes around credibility of the speaker.
Next, fully define your expectations of the speaker. If publicity around your desired speaker is crucial to encourage attendance or, if you want to film the event, make sure everyone is aware of this early on so that the right speaker is chosen.
It’s always a tricky conversation when a speaker turns up at an event only then to discover the client plans to film the speech and upload to their YouTube channel. It always surprises a client that a person who lives their life on camera doesn’t want to be filmed at corporate events, but there are potential hurdles if the corporate is not a closed environment. These can be overcome but it usually causes a bit of heightened blood pressure when it occurs on the day of the event.
Finally, on a simple level, discovering just before the event that it is black tie, having previously been informed that it is business attire, has meant our agency, at least, has become very friendly with local tailors who are always happy to help us with a last-minute loan of suitable clothing…