By Brad Montgomery, CSP, CPAE
I’ve done a lot of speaking engagements in my 25+ years as a motivational speaker. And before I began my speaking
career, I was an entertainer — comedy and magic. I’ve been part of a lot of shows, events, luncheons, keynotes, after-dinner galas, you-name-it, I’ve probably done it. I’ve worked with tons of awesome meeting planners. I’ve become close friends with a huge number of them. Yet there are still some things many professional speakers are afraid to tell our meeting planners because we don’t want to be prima donnas. But I’m going to tell them to you now. Once you incorporate these ideas into your next event, guaranteed it will be better. As you’ll read, most of all we don’t want to come off as a needy egotistic jerks. But, having said that …
1. Treat Your Speaker Like a Prima Donna.
Ok, not the full prima donna. But remember that we’re prepping for a big presentation. YOUR presentation.
Here’s the problem…we KNOW you hate pain-in-the-butt speakers who need to be treated special, don’t want to be bothered with meet-and-greets, etc. And we don’t want to be that person. We don’t want be be a needy jerk. After all, it’s pretty hard to complain about our horrible workload when we’re working 60 minutes a day, right? (Especially since we know you’ve probably been up and working since 5 AM.)
But at the same time, we are being hired to burn bright like a star for our 60 or 120 minutes. And for us to be at our best for that short, focused time takes more energy than you might guess. (Mental and even physical.) And on top of that, we might be nervous, tired, jet-lagged, getting a cold, or dealing with some issue that we don’t feel comfortable revealing to you our our clients.
What does this mean in practice? It means that a little TLC can go a long way. It means you might encourage us to leave the meet-and-greet a little early so we can get our sleep. You might give us time to visit the hotel gym. You might understand that a bit of quiet time or a long walk is the way we prepare for your event. A little TLC might put us in that Supercalifragilistic mood that translates into an epic performance onstage and more ROI for your speaking dollar.
2. Follow Our AV Requirements.
I was recently at a huge conference when a totally terrific meeting planner complained about a speaker who
needed “a bunch of AV-crap, even though it’s just a 30 minute speech!” I laughed the “hee-haw” kind of laugh, the “wow-wasn’t-that-speaker-a-jerk” kind of laugh. But on the inside I was aghast. The truth was that I was too shocked (and too chicken) to tell the meeting planner she had it wrong.
We speakers are afraid to say, “Darn it! I don’t care if it’s only 5 minutes! If you want me to do what you hired me for, help me to get the stuff I need enable me to deliver.” Yes, we speakers understand the realities of limited budgets, and we like to do our best to help you live within them. But you’ve hired us to do our best. And if our best really does require an extra sound input, or having the computer in a certain place, or maybe even a light cue, why not just trust us and provide what we ask? You’ve already paid for the cake. You’ve arranged for the frosting. Why not just go all out and get us the birthday candles too? You might not even fully understand why this extra stuff will improve our performance; but we do. Trust us. (It’s also cool to ask: “I’m on a budget; is this particular expense worth it?” In my case, I’ll be honest and help you to make the choice. Seriously…just ask. I’m really great at helping you stay in budget we can strategize priorities.)
In my case, I’ve worked hard to appeal to many senses in my programs. I have some non-traditional powerpoint, sound effects, and sometimes even confetti. Non of it is crucial…heck, I can do it no matter what. (One time I gave my talk from the back of a truck…no…I’m not kidding.) But all of this “extra crap” is well thought-out, and adds to the impact of the presentation. All of it helps the program to engage your audience — which makes the message more sticky.)
3. Feed Us.
Sometimes we’re afraid to ask because we don’t want to be a bother.
This gets back to the “I don’t want to be thought of as a jerk” idea. (Remember, we’re trying to impress you.) Sometimes it’s a messed up sound check or a bad flight schedule that has us unable to eat prior to arriving at the venue. But we speakers get hungry too. We’re trying not to be a bother; sometimes we just need calories. So the offer of helping us score some chow might be more appreciated than you think. I’ve worked for planners who I KNOW think, “I’ve paid him enough; he can buy his own flippin’ sandwich!” It’s not the money. It’s the time and trouble that sometimes interferes with excellence.
Yes, we can just eat with the client. But sometimes it’s better for us to gather our thoughts and go over notes rather than fight the buffet line. Sometimes a box lunch would go a long way. A couple of apples and a couple of bottles of water to take up to our hotel room can be a life saver. (And pay HUGE dividends regarding improved performance.)
It’s sometimes impossible (or at least awkward) for us to ask you to get us a lunch. So asking if we need some help can pay huge dividends.
Recently I had an early sound check before a 9 AM keynote. There should be been plenty of time for me to
get breakfast after the soundcheck. But things were a bit wonky, and on top of that I was approached by the CEO who wanted to chat. A long chat…which I happen to love. All of this was fine…except that I didn’t have time to get food. My meeting planner saw the issue, and sent somebody to find me a bowl of oatmeal, a cup of coffee and a banana…. Brilliant! I ate it in the back 12 minutes before I hit the stage. I probably would have ended up going up on stage for 90 minutes without any fuel had she not treated me so well. Trust me when I say she got WAY more value out of me because of the oatmeal!
Take my advice and give your next professional speaker a little TLC. What you might get back is an rock star performance that makes you look like the genius!
Call today for a free consultation!
Brad Montgomery is a motivational speaker, corporate consultant,, husband, father, US citizen, Colorado resident, soccer player, roller hockey player, and down-right good guy. He’s been motivating and entertaining audiences for over 25 years, and is a Certified Speaking Professional, a designation given by the National Speakers Association to less than 5% of their membership. He was recently inducted into the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame — an elite group of professional speakers that includes only about 130 living members worldwide. Brad motivates groups on topics such as motivation, leadership, team work, and productive positive cultures. Find out more about him at http://www.MontgomeryPresents.com