A few simple decisions can make or break your conference – regardless of your budget. What are 5 mistakes event organizers make?
Mistake #5 in Booking Keynote Speakers: Booking Speakers Too Late
In-demand speakers fill their calendars up to a year ahead. If you start choosing keynote speakers a few months before your event, you may miss out.
Solution: Book your speakers as soon as you have a date. Even if you only have a tentative date, contact the speaker, agree on a fee and pencil in the date.
Mistake #4: Keynote Speeches Are Too Long!
Almost nobody wants to hear speakers talk for more than an hour!
Obviously, trainers and workshop facilitators sometimes speak for days. Audience attention wanders. But keynote presentations are different.
Keynote speakers should have the audience’s attention throughout.
Remember the last time you heard a 90 minute keynote? What were you thinking? “When’s lunch?”
Solution: Keep sessions to an hour or less. People tire of the same voice and the same delivery. If a speaker is good, he can make his point in an hour.
If he has more good information, bring him back tomorrow.
If you schedule one speaker immediately after another, have a short break in between. Even if it’s two minutes. Get the attendees to stand up and stretch or show them a funny video – do anything you can to refresh the crowd.
Mistake #3: Too Many Speakers
A seminar is like a meal – you can only eat so many potatoes and you can only digest so many speakers.
What often happens? Too many speakers on the program and they all go overtime!
By the end of day one, everyone is shattered.
By day two, they go shopping.
Solution: Less is more. Go for quality speakers. Give your audience breaks to digest the good information. Give them breaks to network.
Keep to schedule. Get agreement from the speakers to finish on time. Get agreement from your attendees to return from breaks on time.
Mistake #2: Keynote Speakers Presenting While People Eat!
Having speakers present while the audience is eating never quite works because:
- good communication needs eye contact
- a hundred knives and forks make a huge racket
- when people eat, they drink! So now you’ve got clinking ice cubes and waiters buy ventolin inhaler no prescription running around with shiraz and orange juice
- when people are distracted by good food or bad food, they start talking among themselves.
Solution: Here are three options:
A: Have your speaker present BEFORE any food is served. Not ideal because everyone will be wondering “Where is the food?”
B: For a small group, bring your speaker on BETWEEN entrée and main course. You will need cooperation from the wait staff to remove all dirty dishes and then withhold service until the presentation is over.
C: Introduce the speaker AFTER MAIN COURSE or AFTER DESSERT. This is the better option with large groups – although by the end of mains, some people will be sleepy and others may be drunk.
If necessary, have the speaker shorten her presentation. Better to have 15 minutes of everyone’s attention than half an hour of their distracted eating time.
And always instruct wait staff to withhold all service during the presentation.
Mistake #1: Hiring Inexperienced Speakers
For in-house events, you can risk using inexperienced speakers. If it’s a national conference or a public seminar, get professionals.
You say, “How bad can a bad speaker be?” Bad enough to sink your conference!
Inexperienced speakers sometimes:
- tell dumb jokes
- bore everyone to death with Powerpoint
- get nervous and leave early
- get nervous and get off-track, or
- get comfortable and talk too long!
Solution: Get speakers with a track record. Ask yourself:
- which companies have employed him? Are those audiences similar to mine?
- does he have experience with a wide variety of industries?
- Is he entertaining?
And TAKE CONTROL. Before you confirm the engagement, tell your speaker exactly what you want. For example, tell him:
I WANT you to:
- do your homework on our industry
- have a conversation with our CEO one month prior to the event
- speak about topics A and B – but NOT C
- finish on time.
I DON’T WANT you to:
- use bad language
- try to sell your products at our event.
See Andrew Matthews live onstage: 3 minute video
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