8 Pet Peeves and Pointers for Working With Speakers

By Kevin Iwamoto, Senior Consultant

As a professional speaker, I have been blessed with many incredible opportunities to address audiences around the world. Most of these experiences have been extremely positive. However, I have some common pet peeves to share — all of which are very easy to avoid and will result in a better experience for the speaker, the host organization and the audience. Herewith:

  1. Verify the pronunciation of your speakers’ names in advance, and practice it. Whether your speakers are
    presenting gratis or for a fee, you owe them and the audience the respect of pronouncing their names correctly.
     
  2. Give the speaker’s bio its due. Be sure to publish the full speaker bio in advance to let people know his/her
    background credentials and create a buzz to encourage attendance.
     
  3. Give the speaker some background details to allow for customization. Educate the speaker about the
    audience, and provide a profile of who is attending in advance so the speaker can prepare and customize the
    presentation. This will result in a much more relevant and engaging presentation.
     
  4. Use an authentic anecdote as the introduction. The best way to introduce a speaker is to remind the
    audience where they can access the speaker’s bio, and then talk authentically (preferably without a script) about your own experience or previous engagement with the speaker. Even if you don’t know the speaker personally, you can still share a personal story about him/her to get the audience excited about what they are about to hear.
     
    For example, “The first time I heard Fran Turner speak was at a general session at MPI. Fran inspired the
    audience by sharing her journey and experiences on how she started her initiative with no funding and executive support, yet still managed to create a successful program. Get ready for a truly motivational presentation — please welcome Fran Turner!” A short, personally authentic and positive intro nicely sets the speaker up with the audience.
     
  5. Try not to blindside the speaker with any last-minute changes. If possible, always update the speaker with
    the latest audience count or any other relevant changes, so they can prepare accordingly.
     
  6. Assign a point person for the speaker. There should be someone available to troubleshoot and assist the
    speaker with any last-minute questions or changes, whether logistical or technical.
     
  7. When presenting gifts, personalization is more important than budget. Speaker gifts are always presented
    at the discretion of the hosts, but it helps to put some thought into the gift to make it personal. Donating to the
    speaker’s favorite charity or choosing a bottle of wine you know the speaker will enjoy shows a lot of thought and appreciation.
     
  8. Always thank the speaker for his/her time. Encourage the audience to meet the speaker after their
    presentation and express their appreciation personally.

By following these tips, you and your audience will benefit from a speaker who feels appreciated, respected and
motivated. If you have other tips and best practices on managing your event speakers, please share!

This article originally appeared in Meetings & Conventions Magazine on August 24, 2017. For more information, click here.

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