Friday, May 01, 2015

Should a Speaker Do More Than Speak?

A client recently asked if I was willing to "play" while I was at their event.  They were wondering if I was willing to go beyond my role as a speaker, have some fun, and help them with some other projects while present at the multi-day conference.

My initial reaction was "YES" (saying yes leads to cool things), and it turned out to be the right thing to do.  They wanted me to be the "man on the street" interviewer for a video they were filming during the opening reception on the first night.  Not only did I help my client fill a role they needed, but I had an amazing time wandering around with the camera man and chatting with members, board members and exhibitors.  Playing always equals fun.

The association was working with CNTV (Convention News Television), the industry leader in bringing the exciting television production experience to conventions, conferences and trade shows.  Their professional crew helps organizers generate new revenue, increase attendance, provide a member benefit and extend the life and reach of the event.  I had met the CNTV people at several events where I have been a speaker over the past few years, but this was the first time I got to "play" with them.

Should speakers do more than speak at your event?  Should you ask them to play?

Well that depends on your speaker and the goals of the organizers.  If Bill Clinton is your keynote speaker, he wont be doing add-ons throughout your three day event.  But non-celebrity speakers should be willing to participate in activities that improve the attendee experience.  

In the busy meetings world where everyone has to multi-task, speakers who are part of the team can do more than one presentation.

To be fair, not every speaker's business model is the same, and thus not all can devote a full day, or several days, to your conference.  However, you can always ask them to take on more than a single role.  It is common for speakers to provide pre-conference videos and post-event webinars, so asking them to be more involved onsite is not an unreasonable request.

But be respectful to the speaker and treat them as a valued team member... not a vendor.  Do not get angry if their answer is "no" (again, their business model might require them to get to work on other projects after their speech to your audience), and never over-schedule their day (I had one client three years ago who abused my schedule and that was no fun).  When you are engaged in "playing" together you can uncover awesome ideas.

Asking your speakers to do more than speak can be win-win.  Most of my speaker friends are seeking ways to provide extra value, and clients who work with their speakers can help inspire whole new product offerings. 

As for my evening as the "reporter" for the conference video... it was one of the most fun nights I have had at a conference (and something I am now able to offer to other clients).

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections.

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