PROFESSIONAL SPEAKER BLOG
John Di Frances' Motivational Keynote Speaker's BLOG
How do you obtain the greatest value for your organization and audience when hiring a professional keynote speaker? There are a number of factors, other than the ability and willingness of the professional speaker, that will impact their effectiveness. Let's begin with one of the simplest and most basic, but also most frequently overlooked. Their introduction. By whom and how is the speaker introduced? This in no manner infers a need for a lengthy introduction, recounting the speaker's educational degrees, professional accomplishments and other minutia the audience will likely find boring, but rather refers to the manner in which your keynote speaker is presented. Is the introducer enthusiastic, even excited? Has the audience been primed by effective pre-event publicity? A second consideration is the time allotted to the speaker. Great speakers have great material, both in content as well as in inspiration and motivation. In order to deliver that content effectively, they need sufficient time and a proper setting. If the servers are gathering up the dishes after a meal and the clattering of plates, glasses and silverware distracts the audience when your leadership speaker is about to make a crucial “call to action,” the moment may be lost forever. Yet a third consideration involves timing within both the day and the overall program. Scheduling your public speaker early in the morning, following a long previous day and late evening activity the night before, probably means that the audience's alertness will be challenged, to say the least. Likewise, a high content speaker with an important message should not stand before the audience as the final act in a long evening of cocktails, dinner and a lengthy program. Professional speakers know their business. Share with them and with your speaker bureau, if you are utilizing one, your desires and plans for each event. Ask their advice. After all, speakers and speaker bureaus do this everyday. It's their business, so make use of your speaker's off platform expertise also. Regardless of whether your requirement is for a keynote speaker, conference speaker, retreat speaker, motivational speaker, inspirational speaker, business speaker,celebrity speaker or professional keynote speaker, remember that you have as much to do with the outcome of the speech as your speakers do. Together with your professional speakers you form a team that can ensure the greatest result for the audience.
What do you look for when hiring a Professional Speaker. First of all, let's define who is a professional speaker. He or she is someone who earns all or at least a significant part of their income speaking to audiences. Many professional speakers are also authors and consultants. They may be regarded as a motivational speaker, keynote speaker, leadership speaker, business speaker, inspirational speaker, Christian speaker, celebrity speaker, conference speaker, retreat speaker, etc. In fact most are all or at least many of the above, for instance, a motivational keynote business speaker or a leadership retreat speaker. All should motivate and inspire, but unless you are looking for pure entertainment value or merely a “feel good” speech without any lasting beneficial impact, they must do far more. Today organizations, whether corporate, government or nonprofit are evaluating everything they do in terms of its ROI. Professional speakers also must deliver a positive ROI. Their audiences are facing difficult challenges, while at the same time the accelerating pace of change brings about many wonderful opportunities, but only to those who can evaluate and respond to these fleeting opportunities very quickly.
When seeking to hire a professional speaker, three factors are most critical. The first is content. Do they bring to your audience fresh thinking, a new perspective, broader vision of what can be and solutions to the problems facing your audience? If the answer is “yes”, then you are on the right track. If not, then look further. The second factor is their ability to relate to your audience. Some speakers are like some college professors, brilliant, but incapable of transferring their great knowledge to others. The third factor is whether they will work together “easily” with you. There is no need or justification for prima donna professional speakers. They may have certain legitimate special requirements, due to their heavy travel schedule and the way they interface with audiences, but these should always be based upon need, not ego. No speaker, no matter how popular, is worth the hassle of having to be handled with kid gloves.
Whether you book your professional speaker directly through their office or through a reputable speaker bureau, chose very carefully and do not make your choice solely on the glitz and glamor of a preview video. Instead, ask yourself this question. “What will we have gained in terms of bottom line ROI a month, three months and six months down the line?” If you cannot answer this question about the professional speakers you hire, then you need to change your approach to selecting professional speakers.
Today, we live in a new world. In business, most of the soft fuzzies are gone. Since 9/11 we have become a much harder, results oriented, ROI driven society in regard to business. It is unfortunate in some ways, but it will also make us economically stronger, IF WE DO NOT LOSE OUR VALUE SYSTEM ALONG THE WAY. We need to drive hard and demand results. We also need to remember to love people and use things, not the other way around! Is a Professional Speaker responsible for delivering real Value to the audience? You bet. Professional speakers must be held accountable for delivering real ROI benefits through new, creative, innovative, cutting-edge content, while at the same time motivating and inspiring their audience to effectively use the new tools imparted by the speaker to make an enduring positive difference in their life and work. That's called EMPOWERMENT, which is what I believe is the true calling of all professional business speakers.
Meeting Professionals, especially those new to the field, often wonder if it is better to hire a through a speaker bureau or directly. The honest answer is professional speaker both! In other words, there are times when each is preferable. Let's begin with speakers bureaus. The purpose they serve is threefold. First, they are or should be impartial, seeking the speaker who is the best fit for the client's specific event. Secondly, the bureau has a large roster of speakers it works with and should know the style, capabilities, content of each of those speakers. Lastly, the speaker's bureau should assist the client and the keynote speaker with the event arrangements. This said, then why would a meeting planner contract directly with a professional keynote speaker? Unfortunately, some speakers bureaus are more of a roadblock to cooperation and information exchange between the speaker and the client than they are a facilitator. Today, business speakers are expected to do more than the motivational speaker or inspirational speaker of the past. To deliver the value and ROI expected by the client, today's professional speaker must focus on the specific needs and desired outcomes of the client for each unique audience. This entails working directly and extensively with the client and its personnel before the event. The responsibility for doing so rests directly upon the speaker and unless the speaker bureau is truly open, progressive and trusting, it can actually impede that process and so many clients and speakers both would rather work together directly. Speaker bureaus that have cultivated a reputation as facilitators in actively assisting the client and the public speaker work together, have earned the respect of both.
A third factor for consideration in selecting the professional speaker best suited to your particular event, topic, venue and audience is the content and experience the speaker will bring to your event. Professional business speakers vary greatly both in their years and breath of business experience as well as in their ability to draw from that wealth of knowledge and experience gained and impart it to your audience in an effective manner. Keynote speakers in particular range from little or no real business experience in the workplace to others who have decades of executive leadership and management experience. Of course, the speakers' with the greatest experience also have the highest fees, reflecting the higher Return on Investment Value (ROI) value they deliver to their clients. The old saying, “You get what you pay for” is certainly true when hiring experienced, veteran keynote speakers. Thus, whether you are seeking a business speaker, motivational speaker, inspirational speaker or other professional speaker, ensure that the speakers you consider have the requisite experience and content to fit the needs of your audience.
A second factor to consider in deciding which professional speaker will bring the greatest Return on Investment (ROI) for your event, is the approach of each speaker. Some speakers are extremely funny, imparting humor with almost every line. Others are extremely serious, imparting high content in a lecture style approach. In the middle of these are professional speakers that blend both content and humor. Why is this so important? Because audiences learn best when they are enjoying themselves. Think of it this way, when are you most open to learning new ideas? When you are engaged and loving it or when you are bored and thinking about how soon you can get on to doing something else which you enjoy? Of course, when you are enjoying the present activity. Does this mean that your audience must be laughing constantly for the speaker to be effective? Not at all. There are multiple means of engaging an audience and a speaker is most effective when simultaneously utilizing a number of those means. Motivational speakers engage the will heavily. Business speakers who deliver high content focus more on engaging the intellect. Inspirational speakers focus most on the heart. The truly great speakers will move throughout their keynote from one focus to another, touching repeatedly the audience's will, mind and heart in such a way that the individual's entire being is involved. Not only is the audience deeply engaged, but their retention of what the speaker is saying rises dramatically. The end result is that by the close of the speech the audience is moved to action.
When seeking to hire a professional speaker for an event, it is important to keep in mind the basic differences in types of speakers. Unfortunately, far too many event planners make their selection based almost entirely upon the promotional video tapes provided by the speakers being considered. In many cases these are not truly representative of how a speaker will present to your audience. Today most speakers tailor their speeches to each audience, both in terms of content and style. A few professional speakers, myself included, actually prepare each speech from a blank sheet of paper. Why? Because today audiences want more than an uplifting motivational speech. They want CONTENT! In our increasingly globally competitive world, everyone from the newly hired and inexperienced administrative assistant to the president as well as everyone in between is facing new and growing challenges. Between competitiveness, technological acceleration, a changing workforce and a myriad of other factors, each person in your organization is being forced to perform at a level never experienced before. To meet these challenges, your people need creative ideas, innovative strategies, easily understandable and transferable examples and the confidence that they have or can find the resources needed to compete without being totally overwhelmed. Whether the speaker you select is known as a professional speaker, motivational speaker, public speaker, keynote speaker, conference speaker, business speaker or by some other moniker, he or she must accomplish above the above in order for you, your audience and the speaker to succeed.
When looking for the right professional speaker for an event, your challenge as a meeting professional is not in finding a good professional speaker, but rather the best or optimal speaker, whether that be for a keynote speech, association conference or corporate / government agency retreat. The type of meeting is an important component in determining the right speaker as is the venue. Some speakers are very good speaking from a stage to large audiences, but are not adept at close encounters with the audience, such in taking impromptu questions. Finding the right professional speaker requires the meeting planner to clearly identify the sponsoring organization's needs, objectives and desired outcomes.
Some of the available resources for finding professional speakers include: the Professional Speakers Guild, the National Speaker's Association, and the Wisconsin Professional Speakers Association. John Di Frances is a member of all of these organizations.