I was on the phone with a perspective speaking client, and I thought our discussion was worth sharing.
She wants to hire me to be their motivational speaker in Austin, Texas and is in the final stages of arranging the venue. She will be working with a corporate group in Texas. One night they want me to come in to make them laugh; to use some humor to put their workplace in perspective.
The question is: Is it better to have a motivational speaker like me there at the resort — in a banquet room — or to move the entire group (and the speaker of course) to an off-site restaurant?
What do I think? Of course it is up to the client, but my belief is that they will get WAY more bang or the buck from any motivational speaker if they do it at the conference resort.
The resort will make sure the Audio/Visual requirements and Platform are right. They will have their wait staff trained to not interrupt during the presentation. And there will be — guaranteed — a good place to host a speaker. A proper room.
At a restaurant, the AV will be iffy, and must be brought in from the outside. (Read that: pain in the neck and expensive.) The wait staff will interrupt with coffee and clearing service. (Because that is what they are trained to do.) And there is a good chance that they will arrange a less-than-perfect location for their speaker to stand. It might be mediocre, or it might be on a milk crate in front of the kitchen doors. (Yes… I have done that before. :)
If the goal is to have a good meal away from the resort… by all means leave. If the goal is to have a speaker bring a message of motivation, of inspiration, and of humor…If the goal is to bring the group together as a single unit and to expose them to something that they experience and enjoy and benefit from as a group the client must set up the situation to facilitate a good event . And trust me friends, a restaurant won’t help. It’ll hurt. Big time.
(It’s worth it: I my experience, getting a corporate group that works together to laugh together is a very powerful teambuilding experience.)
Let’s face it: you can have THE best motivational speakers in the world (Zig Ziglar meets Carol Burnett meets Bill Cosby meets Tony Robbins) and your event will stink if you do it in Applebees.
Or even Applebees on steroids. :)
Want the most value from your motivational speaker? Put ’em in the conference center, invest in proper audio/visual technology, and help prepare you group to hear the message before they start.