Avoid the Seven Biggest Mistakes You Can Make in Hiring a Speaker/Trainer for Your Event
Your CEO has put you in charge of the annual conference and he told you to be sure that your book a keynote speaker who will bring the most bang for his carefully spent buck. Furthermore, he told you that he doesn’t want a speaker who is primarily an entertainer (sizzle); instead, he wants one who is a real expert with a powerful message (steak), who presents that message in an entertaining and motivational package. In short, he wants a speaker who will kick off the conference with a speech that will simultaneously energize, educate and entertain your attendees.
As you know, if you book a speaker who bombs the keynote, that negativism will echo throughout the rest of the conference. Pressure, you say? Don’t fret. You can certainly find the perfect speaker for your event and your attendees, if you avoid the seven most common mistakes and pitfalls that meeting planners make.
The Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Speaker
- Not Matching Your Meeting Objectives with the Speaker’s Expertise.
Having a thorough knowledge of the needs and objectives of your audience is a must before you even begin looking for a speaker. For example, does your audience want to be motivated to action, or are they simply interested in being entertained? Perhaps they wish to be entertained, but also leave with a message.
- Not Choosing a Speaker Who Will Customize His/Her Speech to the Specific Needs, Objectives and Goals of Your Audience
A good question to ask yourself is “What kinds of comments would I like to hear my attendees saying after the speech?” Also, what kinds of actions would you like your attendees to spring into once they have heard the speech? In short, what do you want them to think, feel and do after hearing the speech? Once you have determined the answers to these questions, you are in a great position to look for speakers with testimonials that address those precise audience reactions.
- Not Doing Your Due Diligence in Researching the Speaker You Choose
Watch out for speakers “in transition;” that is, academicians who have decided to try their hand at speaking or entertainers without any academic credibility, seeking speaking opportunities strictly based on their name recognition. Get a biography, and carefully research the references from the testimonials the speaker provides to you.
- Not Choosing a Speaker Who is Widely Regarded as a Bona fide Expert in His/Her Field
There is a wide range of professional speakers available, according to expertise, experience speaking, name recognition, best-selling authors, sports figures, etc. If you are looking for a speaker who is recognized for her/his expertise, look for academic credentials, membership in professional organizations (such as the National Speakers Association-NSA), awards and certifications. If the speaker is not a member of the NSA, why not? Make sure he/she actually meets the requirements of membership in NSA.
- Not Getting a Clear Understanding of Your Speaker’s Style
There is no substitute for actually observing speakers in person. That way you will learn exactly what you do and don’t like, in order to determine if this is the right speaker for your audience and your goals. Obviously, this will normally not be possible, so the next best thing is to view the speaker’s video, preferably filmed in front of a similar audience to yours and, again, contact the references provided.
- Not Choosing a Speaker Whom You Can Speak With Directly In Making Your Decision and Planning Your Program
Many professional and celebrity speakers are so busy or arrogant that they have a staff to deal with meeting planners. I have heard some say that they have their staff do all of the planning and they just show up to do the speech. Would you and/or your committee feel comfortable not being able to coordinate your plans directly with your speaker? Wouldn’t you want to be sure your speaker understands your needs, etc.? Most planners prefer direct discussions with the speaker and my belief is that all speakers should make themselves available to put the planner and committee at ease prior to the booking.
- Not Hiring a Speaker Who Will Unconditionally Guarantee Your Complete Satisfaction With His Work
This is a difficult one, because VERY FEW professional speakers offer such a guarantee. Explanations from speakers about why they do not guarantee their performances ranges from “You can’t please everyone” to “The meeting planner will just say she/he was not happy just to get me for free.” Just having such a discussion with a potential speaker about why she/he does not guarantee their work should speak volumes to you regarding whether you want to hire this person, so go ahead and ask the question!
I was even more fortunate to get to know Jack personally when we both dined with the SAHRA President. She and I were both very impressed with Jack. He is a very caring person with amazing communication skills and the ability to connect with everyone I was not surpised that our entire audience at the SAHRA luncheon had the same reaction. I wholeheartedly recommend Dr. Jack! ~ Greg Thomas, JD, MBA, MA, SPHR-CA, GPHR, Sacramento Area HR Association
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- About Dr. Jack Singer, The FUN Speaker
- One Sheet/Promotional Brochure (PDF)
- Pre-Program Questionnaire
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- Contact Dr. Jack Singer
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