Is a "Speaker" a commodity?
A friend who works at an large association called to ask me something about sourcing "good" speakers. She said that her organization has gotten so good in their "Call for Speakers" that they get amazing proposals, and crappy speakers.
After several years of instituting a strong grading system for ranking submissions, the results of audience satisfaction declined. Since I am a professional speaker, she wanted my opinion.
I have never worked for this association, and probably am not the right fit to keynote their conference or present breakouts for their highly technical niche audience. But I do know one thing: Writing a great proposal and being a talented speaker are not the same thing. Content is not king. While content is very important, they have placed too much emphasis on how well someone can craft a list of audience learning objectives, and moved too far away from caring if the person knows how to deliver a speech.
I rarely get selected to speak if I fill out a "Call for Speakers" form. As a person who attends a lot of conferences, I can tell quickly if those on the planning committee had a policy of "audience first" or "how do we look smart". There is a big difference.
The smartest people are not always the best speakers. That is not suggesting that we should not care about the information and expertise (those are very important). But speaking is an art form. You would not pick someone to paint a portrait of your dying grandmother based on a written essay. There is so many little things that make a great presentation, and the intangible parts have to be given the credit deserved.
When people create a "Call for Speakers" they need to decide what constitutes a speaker. My friend's organization was really conducting a "Call for Good Proposal Writers Who Want To Speak".
If they really care about having better speakers they will need to let it be known that experience and speaking style is important. Some groups have a minimum number of presentations that the speaker has given in the past years as a requirement to apply. Even if people fudge those numbers, this requirement sends a message of what is expected.
A speaker is not a commodity.
What do you think?
Have A Great Day.