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Planning an epic meeting means creating an experience of value for ALL attendees—from the newbies to the veterans. Everyone who attends needs to feel like it was the best meeting ever and that they got so much out of the event that they can’t afford to miss it next year.

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

motivational speakers

Motivational Speaker

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

motivational Speaker

Motivational Speaker Brad Montgomery

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

motivational speaker

Motivational Speaker

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!

 

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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

It’s a failure to plan ahead for the (sometimes necessary) boring parts. Let me explain:Here’s another cool idea about how to make your meeting or convention more epic and more awesome. Here’s what I want you to do when you plan your meeting.

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Ignore These Mistakes At Your Peril

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]scroll down for videoBrad Montgomery has attended thousands of meetings and conventions as part of his job as a motivational speaker.  Some of these meetings/conventions were epic.  Many of them fell short.  Some of them fell WAY short.  Curious about what one of the top motivational speaker sees as top mistakes that meeting planners make when planning a conference or convention?  Sure you are.  Here we go:

  1.  Start Fresh.   Don’t plan your meeting based on last year’s meeting.  I’ve been to meetings where the basic schedule hasn’t changed for decades.  Don’t fall into that trap.  Instead, ask yourself, “What can we do to create VALUE for our attendees?  How can we structure our event to make sure every attendee leaves knowing that was the best investment of their time and money ever?”
  2. Don’t Put The Pomp & Circumstance in the opening session.  It’s important, but it’s often boring to the first-time attendees.  (Sometimes it’s just plain boring.)  Avoid long speeches by the president, past presidents, introductions of the Board, notes about the scholarships, and “moments of silence” for lost association members right off the bat. Instead, kick it off with a bang!  Fun.  Energy. Value. Value!  (Yes, I’ve said value twice. It’s THAT important.)    Train your attendees that when sessions start they are fun, valuable, and start immediately.  That way they’ll be sure to be at the opening session and on time to get the good seats!
  3. Plan on interactivity.  The old-school way of planning conferences is done.  And thank goodness.  The meetings where a Talking Head on stage talks at people sitting on hard chairs in a dark room for hours on end is over.  Your people crave three things:  networking to create connections; discussion breaks so that attendees can process and discuss the information given them; and finally, a facilitated planning session to develop a plan for implementing changes based on the information garnered from your conference.

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Hear Brad explain in this video.

[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/fRYZuuW2DEI”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Brad Montgomery is a business speaker who speaks on the People Side of Business.  Eager to get more out of yourself and those people around you, then Brad is your guy.  He presents keynotes, break-outs, and concurrent session for meetings and conventions across the country and around the world.  Oh.. And he’s funny.  REALLY funny.  (If you’re people aren’t engaged they aren’t learning.   Call today and let’s plan out how to maximize your event.  303.691.0726

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Meeting Planners Have a Lot at Risk and Speakers Need to Understand It

I recently was a motivational speaker for a audience of 500 Foster Case Workers in Austin, Texas and my client came up to me afterwards and told me that one of his many jobs was to manage risk and now that the program was over he was able to be honest with me.  I started to get a little lump in my throat, but happily, this is when my client put on a huge smile and told me “Brad, it went great!”, so I was happy and I was relived but this is where the lesson started.

My client told me what I already know but is an excellent reminder for me and anybody who is either booking a motivational speaker or plans to be a motivational speaker.  He told me how important this event was to him.  He told me that he was bringing in 500 people away from their jobs for a 2 ½ hour event plus their travel time, so for many of them, this was going to be most of their day and that the opportunity cost was outrageously expensive.  He also told me that he was already thinking ahead towards next year’s event and that he worked hard to fill that room with 500 people who were very busy already and if this event was a turkey, he would have a next to impossible time getting equal numbers, much less greater numbers, next year.

So, what’s the point?  The point is that as meeting planners and as speakers and as general members of the meeting and convention industry, we need to understand that when we’re negotiating motivational speaker’s fees, it’s more than the money.

Pick a speaker that will guarantee a return on your investment

My client invested quite a bit of money in me.  He’s brought me in for one event and we’re duplicating the event next week in a different city in Texas.  So, his investment is pretty great, but he is looking at the big picture.  He sees that his investment in the speaker really is just a tiny piece in the puzzle and that when you add it up to all of the other things he needs to accomplish, he’s putting way more on the line.  He is risking way more on the line than just the investment in his professional speaking.  By the way, his attitude reflected this.  Some of my clients are freaking out about expenses and this and that and technology this or whatever, not this man.  He understood those tiny investments were absolute drops in the bucket.

So, next time you are looking to hire a motivational speaker and are interested about how to save money on speaker’s fees, I want you to remember all of the other things you’re investing into your meeting or conference.  It’s a huge opportunity cost for all of your people, huge meal cost for all of your people (in this case, my client bought a fancy lunch at the Austin Texas Omni Hotel, lunch for 500 people, I have no idea what the bill is but it was huge) but also the opportunity cost and the investment of momentum.

Next time you’re thinking about booking a speaker I want you to think about how much it will cost you to get the next level down speaker and how much you would save and then compare that savings to the cost of not having an absolute perfect conference.  Speaker’s fees generally reflect the level of guarantee you can expect.

So, can you save my money by booking a cheaper speaker?  Yes.  Can sometimes entry level speakers do a great job?  Yes.  Have you invested enough in your particular convention or meeting that you cannot afford anything but the very best?  If that’s the case, give us a call.  If you’re interested in booking a motivational speaker who has a high level of guarantee of success…my programs are fully guaranteed…I hope you’ll contact me here.

~Brad Montgomery~
Motivational Speaker, Texas Speaker, Guaranteed Professional Speaker

Ok, not totally.  But wait until you read this true story:

I was recently at a huge event in Florida — 450 professionals brought in from around the country – to be their closing motivational keynote speaker.  Nice.  They asked me to include all expenses in my contract to make it easier for them.  Fine.  No sweat.    (Can you tell that I’m leaving even the industry off to make sure I don’t step on any client toes? :)

My spot as the closing speaker was immediately following a boxed lunch.  After the morning session, the attendees grabbed a box lunch, went to their seats, ate… and waited for – well – me.

I got my gear set, was all-systems-go with the audio visual team, and had chatted with the big boss (who by the way had hired me two times in the past.)  So far, everything is easy and fun.

But here is where it gets hinky.  I was about to grab a box lunch… I was starving and was needed calories before I spoke for an hour and a half  … when I casually asked  the meeting planner if I could have a sandwich.  I asked her knowing it was a formality.  Of course she would feed her speaker.   I nearly didn’t ask.   

I was wrong.  She said, “Oh no, those are for the participants.”  I thought she was joking.  “You’re kidding, right?”    I honestly thought she was joking about not feeding me.

“No, we have accounted for all of the lunches, and they are for the registered attendees only.”  I was dumbfounded.  I wanted to say, “Well then I’d like to register.”  But all I could come up with was a clumsy, “But I’m your closing speaker.”  

“Sorry,” she said.  I was amazed.  With 450 people there, there just HAD to be ONE extra turkey sandwich.  And did she realize what it meant to me and her meeting to turn me down?

So I just said, “Ok, I’ll need to go get some food.” I left her and 4 tables piled high with ready-made lunches and left in search of a quick sandwich.  There were two restarurants in the hotel, but after talking to their hostesses it was clear that I wouldn’t have time to order there.  I eventually ended up at sandwich place next to the hotel and bought myself a — you guessed it —  turkey sandwich.  (Ironic, no?)

By the time I found this place, ordered, waited, wolfed down the sandwich, and made my way backturkey sandwich for the professional speaker to the convention area the meeting planner was in a panic. “Where were you?”  Again, I was dumbstruck.  I didn’t have anything graceful to say, so I just came out with a, “I had to go find some food.”

She looked surprised.  Apparently her other speakers never need fuel before they speak.  We walked back towards the meeting room and passed what was now a single table piled high with turkey sandwich box lunches.  She saw me look at them:  “I guess there were some left after all.”

I was silent.   But inside I was somewhere between laughing and crying. 

What’s the point?  I can tell you it isn’t the $8.67 I spent on my sandwich.  My point is that this woman was responsible for an event that cost a gazillion dollars and she threw her keynote speaker off-balance because of a turkey sandwich.  I didn’t care about the money, I cared that because she was counting her pennies I was inconvenienced, and because of that I wasn’t fully in the game.  Instead of eating with the attendees, getting the latest scoop on the convention, and having a chance to go over my program notes I was rushing around trying to find calories that were within reach the whole time.  Maddening. 

Normally I eat with my audience because that’s where I get the last-minute scuttlebutt.  That’s where I hear about the most recent stresses, the talk of the meeting or convention, and that’s where I often write some of my best jokes.  Not this time. 

Instead of getting myself psyched up for doing a good job for her, I was trying to make it back to the hotel on time.

More irony:  The meeting planner was off balance, nervous and upset because her speaker had vanished.   Both of us — and the entire audience — would have been better served if I was given a sandwich.

[Hey, don’t worry.  The keynote was fun and well-received — if I do say so myself.  It was a great audience and I’ve done this keynote thing a bunch.  It went great.  But why in the world did this planner make it so hard?]

Message to meeting planners:  if you are hiring a speaker, do your best to set them at ease.  You don’t have to pamper us, (though we love that more than you’ll guess) but it is a good investment to remove as many headaches for us as you can.  You want us to be 100% when we hit your platform.  So make it easy for us to rock.  Oh, and by the way, buy us that sandwich.

Are you looking to HIRE  a keynote speaker?  Contact me here. (I’ll even bring my own sandwich…just give me warning. :)

Brad Montgomery
Motivational Keynote Speaker, Lover of Meeting Planners, Fan of Turkey Sandwiches

PS.  I asked my client  — not the meeting planner but the client — if I could tell this story from the stage.  I gave him a brief summary, told him why I thought it was funny and how I thought that there was a lesson in this story for his specific group.  He declined and admitted that it made sense but the meeting planner was “highly strung” and he didn’t think she could take it.  Oh… telling that story from the stage would have been funny!

PPS.  Ever had a similar experience?   Would you be so kind as to leave it in a comment?

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Turn your Trade Show into a FUNvention

by Ronald P. Culberson, MSW, CSP
Director of Everything!, FUNsulting, etc.

I showed up the night before my presentation to the Florida Division of the American Cancer Society and made my way to the ballroom for dinner. In the lobby, I encountered a man in a leopard outfit. As I turned the corner on the second floor, I saw a woman dressed up as a lion. I immediately checked my contact sheet to make sure I was in the right location.

It turns out that the theme for the evening was “Welcome to the Jungle”, and the meeting planners had organized team skits, a Tarzan yelling competition and a “Jane” costume contest for men only! The evening was a rousing success with lots of humor and a wonderful sense of camaraderie.

Researchers have referred to humor as a social lubricant because of the way it brings people together and helps to reduce tension. Since trade shows and conventions are for bringing people together, any activity that generates laughter is a great addition to the typical conference agenda. Here are examples to turn the mundane into fundane:

Make routine activities funny

Fairfax County, Virginia's Public Library has a funny nametag contest for their 600 person Staff Day. The winning name tag design is used for the event. Tag, you're it!

Lou Heckler, a speaker and coach from Gainesville, Florida attended a convention where the “talk of the conference” was a buffet breakfast table backed up to a “stage” of risers. On the stage was a full bedroom scene complete with a nightstand, lamps, chair, dresser and a bed with a real person in it. The participants assumed the person was a mannequin until they approached the buffet and the person said, “Good morning!” I wonder if her name was Muffin?

During the breaks between general sessions, one government agency showed photos taken at the conference and added funny captions. Two minutes before the start of each session, the music from Jeopardy would begin playing and a timer would count down the time to the session. Before long the attendees were laughing at the photos and humming to the Jeopardy tune. Are you game for something like that?

Design funny group activities around the conference theme

Midge Dobbs from Meeting Professionals International's Oregon Chapter participated in “Survivor, Meeting Professional Style” at her association conference. To encourage teamwork among these meeting professionals, “survivor teams” had a competition to set up the main ballroom for dinner complete with chairs, linen, silverware and china. A fun activity and no one had to eat bugs!

The Maryland Community College for Continuing Education horsed around by sponsoring a virtual horse race using a video program of actual horse races. Participants competed by betting on their favorite horses with prizes going to the teams who won the most races. And with a video, no one had to clean up after the horses!

Oivia Immerman at Voila Meeting and Event Management helped design a competition for a high tech company in which each team used wigs, jewelry and make up to become a musical group. The teams selected a name, created a logo and then developed a choreographed lip sync performance for the rest of the attendees. A video of the performances was produced for the entire company.

Use humor experts to participate in your events

Dale Irvin, a professional speaker provides Five Minute Funnies throughout an event in which he humorously summarizes presentations made during general sessions. He also organizes real time games shows like Family Feud and Survivor using information that participants were “supposed” to learn during the conference.

Brad Montgomery, a humorist and speaker has used magic as a way to bring attention to trade show booths.

Janet Delph, from EXPERT Magazine, reported that CNN Headline News anchor Bob Losure used a talk show format (instead of the typical farmal speech) to interview top executives in a general session at the 2003 OfficeMax national convention. The 1100 attendees rated it the best session ever. Though this is not just about humor, it is about a fun way to share information about the company through unique and entertaining format.

Using activities to evoke laughter and fun at conventions is a powerful way to keep participants engaged and excited about being there. If done correctly, the conference or trade show will be a memorable one.

———

Copyright 2005 by Ron Culberson. Reprinted with permission. Ron Culberson, Director of Everything! at FUNsulting, etc., is a speaker, humorist, author of Is Your Glass Laugh Full? and former hospice social worker whose mission is to work with organizations that want their people to lighten up by using humor to minimize stress and maximize effectiveness. He is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), the highest earned award from the National Speakers Association, and is one of less than 7% of speakers worldwide who have received this designation. He has provided entertaining and informative programs to over 70,000 people in more than 600 associations, government agencies, non-profit organizations and Fortune 500 companies. Reach Ron at www.Funsulting.com

5 Tips For Making Humor A Hit At Your Next Event

By Karyn Buxman, MSN, CSP, CPAE

“We need something to liven up our conference. Like a humorist. Whom would you suggest?” It’s wonderful when the phone rings with a potential client who is looking for some humor. But before making your final decision, do a little humor homework. Here are five tips to make your next choice a home run.

What’s the audience’s humor style? Some prefer intellectual humor. Others like visual humor or even slapstick. One of the ways to ascertain this is to ask about whom they’ve used in the past. There are speakers in the industry with the good-clean-humorous, storytelling style like Bill Cosby. There are others with the off-the-wall, zany style of Robin Williams. Some have the clown like abilities of Lucille Ball. Others have an understated style like Bob Newhart or Steven Wright.

What are the group demographics? Ask any humorist and they will probably tell you that the easiest audience is a room full of middle-aged women. Their laughter is uninhibited and they are eager to be entertained. Start adding men to the group and the dynamics change. An all female audience will laugh much more readily than an all male audience, especially if there is a hierarchy within the all male group. The older the group, the less likely they are to enjoy a rapid, fast paced humor. Younger groups, on the other hand, like a presentation that includes lots of quick wit. Their attention spans are shorter and may be lost on a slower, methodically paced humor style. Ethnic diversity will also affect how the humor is received.

What is the timing of this event? An opening session first thing in the morning will be tailored differently than a been-all-day-at-meetings-then-open-bar-reception-followed-by-a-heavy-dinner presentation. Be sure to ask not only where is the timing for the program, but also how long is the requested program. Thirty minutes of entertainment is a different ball game than a ninety-minute general session.

What’s the overall objective for this slot? Is the purpose of this program to begin the conference and set the tone? Is it to break up a day of tedious and technical material? Perhaps it is one of many breakouts intended to provide tools to cope. Or maybe it is to close the conference with a bang so participants leave feeling great. Knowing why the humor is desired in the overall picture will be an asset to you and your speaker.

How will you know if the speaker is on target? What is the specific objective(s) for this slot? This is probably the most important question of all and surprisingly, this is the question most often left blank on my pre-program questionnaire. Many program planners really haven’t given that much thought about what they want that speaker to specifically accomplish. Finding out the answer to this question gives the speaker a target and the planner a means of evaluating whether or not the speaker hit that target.

For example, the audiences may be similar, but one planner responds, “Our audience is so stressed out. Just make them laugh and feel good for awhile.” Another responds, “Leave them with a means of dealing with their stress using humor.” These are two very different objectives. The first planner wants the audience to be entertained. The second is looking for content on how to deal with stress using humor. They both expect the program to be entertaining, but to what degree will be different.

Placing the wrong person in a humor slot is no laughing matter. By taking the time to explore these five areas, you can be sure there will be smiles all the way around.

——-
Copyright 2005 by Karyn Buxman. Reprinted with permission. A highly sought humorist and nationally recognized expert in therapeutic humor, Karyn Buxman, RN, MSN, CSP, CPAE helps people achieve balance through stress management techniques, including humor. To sign up for her free bi-weekly e-zine, LyteBytes, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.HumorHabit.com

Funny is better!


Why choose humorous motivational speakers over corporate motivational speakers?

By Brad Montgomery CSP

Your group already knows it: humorous motivational speakers are more fun and more effective than business or corporate motivational speakers. And people learn best when whey are having fun; when they are laughing. If you want your group to thank you… book a humorist motivational speaker!

I am a (hopefully) funny motivator. And I don't mind admitting that I don't teach any new business philosophies. I don't speak on any new corporate secrets or techniques. I'm not gonna tell anybody who moved MY cheese… and I'm not gonna tell ya how to swim with any sharks. But I will get your group feeling good again. Good about themselves, about your meeting, about your business. And most importantly, I'll get them feeling good about their future.

In my opinion business or corporate motivational speakers are wonderful. And often they are the right choice. But my clients tell me over and over again that business motivational speakers speak in the typical manner employees hear daily. In fact, employees hear it so often, they begin to tune it out and future messages are lost. To really get a point across, companies need to use a fresh approach, which is why humorous motivational speakers are so successful.

While there are some who claim not to need motivational speakers, they may be the ones who need them the most. How do you send the message to those that do not want to listen? How do you reach those people who sit in the very back row and cross their arms? To me tha answer is to get them laughing. If you can get them to laugh – and to laugh hard – they will relax and stop fighting. They will slowly start to accept me as a speaker and teacher. And that's where the learning starts. Without the laughter we would be lost.

“People Learn Best When They Are Laughing.”
– Brad Montgomery

Approaching the issues through laughter is fresh and inviting. Humorous motivational speakers offer hope in a way that feels like a vacation. For those 75 mins the speaker is on stage, your audience gets a break from the stresses they brought into the room with them. They get a vacation from their problems.

But unlike a vacation, they come back to work ready to go and with some specific techniques they can use both at work and at home to add humor and laughter to their lives.

And because they are having fun, the message is important, relevenat and meaningful to them. They are ready not only to learn, but implement what they have learned. Employees are eager to use the ideas of humorous motivational speakers in the work place and at home to make life more fun and more meaningful. Sure, any speaker can help, but I feel strongly that if you really want to make an impression, avoid the typical business or corporate motivational speakers.

Bottom line:
People love to laugh and forget about the stresses of the economy and the front page. They want humorous motivational speakers. Brad Montgomery is just that! Oh, just book Brad!

Copyright 2005 by Brad Montgomery. May be reprinted with permission.
Brad Montgomery CSP is a humorous motivational speaker & corporate entertainer. Using his own blend of Hilarious Humor, as well as his Award-Winning magic, Brad’s speeces remind us that our lives are Fun & Funny, and Filled with Magic. Brad urges his groups to use humor and spontaneity to rediscover the 'magic' in our lives, our homes, and our jobs. Brad’s clients use him to open or close the convention, or for making their group smile somewhere in between. Reach Brad at 800.624.4280 or www.BradMontgomery.com

I need WHAT kind of comedian? What is a corporate comedian and why you need one!

By Brad Montgomery CSP

Let's face it. Life today is complicated at best. It's often difficult. And it is sometimes… well… yucky. All we need to do to confirm our stresses is to look over the front page of the newspaper and we know that what we really need is a good laugh.

Companies and associations turn to corporate comedians to provide their employees with a break from the difficulties of the times. Whether they need to give their folks a break from a day of learning important – but often dry – information from industry speakers, or they want to make them feel appreciated and valued, or if they want to kick off or close a convention with a bang, a corporate comedian can be the answer.

BradBrad Montgomery is a very funny corporate comedian and speaker. He knows how to take a group of well-educated, sophisticated, been-there-and-done-that people and shake them right out of their chairs.

What's the difference between a comedian and a “corporate” comedian?

That's an easy one. A corporate comedian is a comedian who is clean, safe and appropriate for today's business audiences. It's a comedian who can make convention and meeting audiences howl with laughter w/o some of the “blue humor” that is so common in nightclubs.

Brad Montgomery puts it this way: “A corporate comedian's show is safe for everybody. When I work my clients expect it to be funny without it being offensive. And I mean offensive to anybody.” Brad leaves out any references to race, sex, gender,.. you get the idea.

“Not only do we not need those topics to make them laugh, but I figure that the meeting planners and I don't ever want to get a letter about something on the edge or near the margin of inappropriate humor. I keep it absolutely crystal clean and safe…. I don't want the headache. Besides… if I make them laugh so hard they are crying, who's gonna notice that it is clean and safe anyway?”

Brad’s theory is that a great corporate comedian is so funny that folks never notice that it is clean. “Sure, I occasionally have folks from the audience thank me for keeping it clean. But the truth is that most people don't notice it. They would absolutely notice it if I was cursing my way through the after dinner entertainment, but when it is clean they are free to focus on the fun.”

“I think I've more or less failed if the only good thing about my program that folks can comment upon is that I didn't cuss. I want them laughing and laughing hard…. And the fact that it is a show that is clean enough for everybody from my 94 year old grandmother to my 4 year old son shouldn't be the main point.

Brad“As I tell folks all the time… not only is my program funny and inoffensive to my grandmother, it is funny and inoffensive to everybody's grandmother!”

Corporate comedian Brad Montgomery also considers himself a business humorist and funny motivational speaker.

Magic is also a big part of Brad’s programs. “I got my start years ago as a magician. I did night clubs and cruise ships; and I did over 250 college performances. But now much of my time is spent working as a corporate magician and comedian to association and corporate audiences all across the country. “

“The magic is something that I'm proud of,” continues Montgomery. “I've won awards for my magic and I'm proud of it. At the same time, I don't mind telling you that most of the folks in my audience never leave talking about the amazing tricks. Instead, they are all talking about how funny the show is.”

Brad uses his corporate magic as a tool to get to a more personalized comedy. He gets folks from the audience out of their seats and up on the stage to help with the magic tricks. The magic happens to them and by them, which is really popular with his convention audiences.

But the best part, according to Montgomery, is the comedy that happens during the interaction between him and his audience “volunteers.” “I basically start to interview them while they are with me up on stage. We talk about their jobs, their industries and their joys and concerns relating to their occupation. We also end up talking about the meeting itself: the food, the hotel, whatever is going on.”

BradThe result is hilarious. The comedy resulting from this interaction is impromptu, funny, and always surprising. Sure, the start of the whole interaction is the magic tricks… but the result is way more than just a baffling magical illusion. The result is corporate entertainment that cannot be repeated.

“One of the characteristics that I enjoy about my job is that since I have no idea what folks are going to say on stage, there is no way to prepare. Sure, I've had years of experience and can rely on that for help. But in the end it is all a surprise. I love that on-the-spot element of comedy. But I know the audience loves it too. They love that their comedian is making up a huge bulk of the show in front of their eyes. And they love that they are getting a show created just for them and that the next night, when I'm in Pittsburg working for Plumbers, or in Arizona working for accountants, or in Indiana working for insurance sales folks… you get the idea… they know that nobody will ever get the same show that they are seeing. It makes this form of corporate comedy fresh, exciting, and really funny.”

Brad Montgomery customizes his program to meet his clients needs… exactly. Part of the process of booking Brad includes either filling out a short questionnaire via email or spending a few minutes with Brad on the phone so that he can customize and tailor his program to each group's specific challenges, hot-buttons, and inside jargon. “Not only does tailoring my material make the programs more meaningful for the folks in the audience; it makes it funnier! Sure, we can joke about stresses at work in general… but when we talk specifically about – for example – filling out the Year End Form 123C, people really relate. And the laughter is all the much better for it.”

Although Brad is based in Denver, Colorado, he takes his funny speeches and motivational comedy across the United States and across the world. He has worked in 48 of the 50 states, but ends up working in some states more than others. He is probably most frequently in Colorado performing corporate comedy, but also frequently travels to Texas, California, Las Vegas, Orlando, Chicago, and New York to provide his brand of business humor.

Selecting a Professional Speaker

by Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE

Oh no — you’ve been put in charge of the program for your company’s next out-of-office meeting! Your mind flashes back to the meetings you’ve attended that were a disaster. You remember all too well that monotone speaker who bored everyone to tears, that other speaker who obviously didn’t know the first thing about what your company does, and, worst of all, the speaker who thought the audience would learn a valuable management lesson by standing on their chairs and crowing like roosters!

You know that your boss is counting on you to pull together an interesting and valuable program based on a dynamic speaker. And even though the meeting is still months away, you’re already losing sleep over it. To help ease your anxieties about finding the best speaker possible, consider the following four guidelines. These guidelines are the result of my 11 years as a professional speaker and more than 1,300 paid speeches and seminars. Further, I’ve spent lots of time talking to other speakers about how to work most effectively with meeting planners like you — to ensure that your meeting fulfills attendees’ expectations and gives them the most for their time (and monetary) investment.

1. Begin with a topic.

I’m amazed at how many meeting planners call to inquire about my speaking services who don’t know what they want me to talk about. Although my areas of expertise are fairly wide — I’m published in leadership, change, customer service, team building, and motivation — there are many topics I’m not qualified to address. In fact, I know of no speaker who can be all things to all people.

So identifying a topic for your speaker to address is the beginning point. From there, you can work with the speaker to refine the general topic into more specific areas that will provide listeners the most value. For instance, if a client wants to hire me to speak on customer service, my subsequent research might uncover the fact that getting attendees to utilize new technology is a barrier to providing leading-edge service. So, my resulting program would major in customer service and minor in change management.

2. Choose your objectives before you choose your speaker.

Second, determine what you want the speaker to accomplish. I always ask potential clients to identify their three most important objectives, in rank order.

Objectives are different than topics. Consider, for example, the topic of customer service. Your objectives for a presentation based on this topic might be: 1. to convince audience members of the importance of a customer service strategy, 2. to educate them on how to develop and deliver superior service, and 3. to motivate them to take action.

A different audience might already be committed to superior customer service and proficient in their ability to deliver it. So, your presentation objectives for that kind of audience might be: 1. to show attendees how to reach the next level of service success, 2. to offer examples of leading-edge service providers outside your industry, and 3. to provide humor to lighten up an education-intensive meeting.

As you can see, the same topic can generate diverse objectives. Think of your topic as a general direction to take, and then think of objectives as the specific destination to reach. You need to know where you want to end up with a speaker as well as which road will get you there.

A valuable question I ask prospective and current clients is: “At the end of my presentation, what do you want the audience to think, feel, and do?” This question helps me pinpoint objectives related to the audience’s intellect, emotions, and behaviors. I’ve found it an excellent way to identify key objectives.

Most professional speakers use a pre-program questionnaire to help them tailor presentations to clients’ needs. The type and amount of information they ask for is a good indication of how well they accomplish that task, so during your selection process, be sure to ask for a copy of the pre-program questionnaire of each speaker under consideration.

3. Review promotional material carefully.

When you review a speaker’s promotional materials, look for professionalism and for solid credentials and experience. Be careful of hype and unsubstantiated claims. Flashy marketing materials do not make a speaker great. Sometimes new and inexperienced speakers spend great sums of money on slick, hype-filled marketing materials to compensate for a lack of experience. Also, consider the overall style of the materials, which should reflect that of your group. For example, a buttoned-down, conservative audience will probably not be enthralled with a flamboyant speaker. Often, your first clue to a speaker’s style lies in his or her promotional materials.

Look for any professional credentials that the speaker might hold. The National Speakers Association has a professional credentials program by which a speaker can earn the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation through a specified amount of experience, education, and client endorsement. Of course, a CSP designation doesn’t always mean that a particular speaker is the right fit for your audience, but it does carry with it a reliable indication of experience and professionalism. Likewise, there are many fine speakers in the marketplace who do not have the letters CSP after their names.

Another professional credential to look for is the Council of Peers Award of Excellence (CPAE), also awarded by the National Speakers Association. This designation is an honor bestowed annually on speakers by a committee of peers. Of the 3,600 members of the Association, only three to five members receive this honor each year. Currently, there are fewer than 100 living CPAE recipients.

(Author’s Note: Although I hold both the CSP and CPAE credentials, I do not consider them the primary or most important selection criteria for a client. However, I do consider them exceptional indicators of professionalism and experience. I believed they were important credentials before I obtained them, and I would certainly acknowledge the importance of both if I held neither. For more information about either the CSP or CPAE, contact the National Speakers Association at 602-968-2552.)

Other items to look for in a speaker’s promotional materials include the following:

  • Client list: Has the speaker worked for others in your industry or a related industry?
  • Client testimonials: What do previous audiences say about him or her? Does their reputation lend credibility to their testimonials?
  • Areas of expertise: Does the speaker specialize by topic or industry? Has he or she published anything in your area of interest?

4. Remember, the proof is in the performance.

Areas of expertise, client lists and testimonials, credentials, and background are all important items to consider, but the most critical factor in selecting the right speaker for your group is presentation quality. You must see a speaker in action to make the best decision, because the bottom line is: How good are his or her content and speaking style.

Most often you can determine a potential speaker’s performance quality through a a preview video. Arranging to see a speaker live is another option, albeit too time-consuming and expensive for most meeting planners. However, most professional speakers and the bureaus that represent them will help you arrange to see a live presentation if you desire.

When you watch a speaker’s preview video, keep in mind that the most important parts of the video are those times when the speaker is addressing a real audience. Also, look for both short excerpts and longer excerpts. The shorter excerpts are sound bytes that demonstrate a speaker’s ability to quickly summarize or encapsulate important ideas. Longer excerpts show the speaker’s ability to maintain interest and hold an audience’s attention. Cutaway shots of the audience are also good if they demonstrate the audience’s attention level. Keep in mind, however, that cutaways are also the way presentations are edited to eliminate unnecessary and ineffective words, sentences, and sections. Too many cutaways may indicate a heavily edited tape.

While watching any preview video, ask yourself the following five questions:

  1. Does this speaker capture and hold the audience’s attention?
  2. Will our group find value in the speaker’s ideas?
  3. Will our group be comfortable with the speaker’s stage presence and style?
  4. Does the speaker demonstrate the ability to meet our objectives?
  5. Is there evidence that the speaker tailors his or her material to the audience?

A client recently shared with me the system she once used for selecting a speaker. First, she screened ten speakers’ preview videotapes and selected the top four. Next, she and her boss, who was responsible for the overall meeting, watched those four videos and rank ordered their preferences. (Rank ordering your top two to three choices is a good idea in case the top choice is unavailable for your meeting.) Then they asked someone who would be in the audience to watch the four videos and provide feedback. They found it beneficial to check an audience member’s opinion against their own.

Finally, keep in mind that selecting the right speaker for your next meeting is part science and part art. After going through the above four steps, you should do one more thing: Check your choice against your intuition. Ultimately, the speaker you select should feel like a good fit. It you aren’t comfortable with your choice, take your unease as a clear warning sign that you may not have selected the right person. Don’t underestimate or ignore your intuition.

In summary, professional speaking is a growing industry full of talented and effective speakers. In this field, you’ll find a wide variety of skill levels, experience, and areas of expertise. I doubt that anyone could objectively identify the very best speaker in the world. But it doesn’t matter. What you want to do is identify the best speaker for your group, and to do so, you must go through a stringent selection process. When you do, you can be confident that you’ll be a hero, not only to audience members, but also to those who entrusted you with this task.

———–
Copyright 2006 by Mark Sanborn. Reprinted with permission. Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE is a professional speaker published in the areas of leadership, change management, customer service and teamwork. He works with business organizations who want to reach the next level of success and individuals who want to perform at their best. You can email him at [email protected], phone him at (800) 650-3343 or visit his Web site at http://www.marksanborn.com.

How to Bring in Big-Name Speakers on a Low-Dollar Budget

By Laura Stack, MBA, CSP

“The Productivity Pro”
Chair, National Speakers Association (NSA) Meetings Industry Council (MIC)

Money is tight and times are tough. Meeting registration is down, and the budget isn't available for that big-name professional speaker you want to bring to your meeting. If you find a speaker you'd love to invite but can't quite swing the fee, you may want to try negotiation.

From the perspective of the professional speaker or bureau, the speaking fee represents both a paycheck and the value the speaker brings to your group. When approaching speakers for low or no fee arrangements, be sure to recognize them as valued partners critical to the success of your meeting, not a replaceable commodity. Be prepared with your negotiation ideas before calling the speaker, to show that you value their expertise and contribution.

Speakers must be fair to the clients who pay their full fees. So if you want a speaker to accept a lower fee, think about what you can do in return that goes beyond what clients paying full fees would do. “As a meeting planner, make it as easy as possible for the speaker to say yes without compromising fee integrity,” says Scott Friedman, CSP, a professional speaker and chair of a joint International Association of Speakers Bureaus (IASB)/National Speakers Association (NSA) task force. (The IASB/NSA task force is working to strengthen partnerships between professional speakers and speaker bureaus.)

Here are some strategies that will help you create a win/win situation, allowing speakers to receive value in return for the expertise they bring to your employees or members, while working within your budget:

1. Barter
What valuable items can you offer the speaker in trade, instead of dealing in cash? Perhaps you can negotiate a trade that doesn't cost money but has comparable value. Think about what resources are available from members, suppliers, exhibitors, or sponsors that are tradable. I presented a program in Vail, Colo., to a non-profit association in exchange for a night at the Ritz-Carlton, an additional night later in the year, an afternoon at the spa, plus skiing and snowmobiling for two. I was willing to do it because of the value of the trade, plus the opportunity to present to an association whose members could hire me.

Ask your exhibitors if they would be willing to sponsor the speaker by donating some of their products. Speakers have traded portions of their fee for a PalmPilot, a weekend in Napa, baby formula, boating equipment, and farm tractors! One speaker who spoke at a Mary Kay conference received half of her fee in products. “It was like Christmas in July!” she said. Brad Plumb, an account executive with Five Star Speakers, Trainers, and Consultants and the president of IASB reports, “Recently I worked with an aircraft electronics manufacturer who gladly traded a top-of-the-line piece of equipment to the speaker who happened to be a pilot.”

Of course, you might not be able to barter everything. “I actually had a doctor offer a medical procedure one time, but couldn’t find a speaker willing to take him up on it. Can you imagine…a medical freebie??? Not exactly what I want to be thinking about when they put me under,” said Plumb.

2. Practice Creative Accounting
If you don't have enough money in your speaker budget, where else might you be able to find the funds? Perhaps you could pay installments on the portion of the fee over your budget. For example, if the speaker fee is $5,000 and you only have $4,000, you could pay installments on the extra $1,000 over a practical time period.

Multiple engagements for the same meeting

If you're already paying a speaker for the opening or luncheon keynote, ask that speaker to present a breakout session in the afternoon as well, thus saving on hiring additional speakers for that slot and lowering your cost-per-program. Also think of other areas where the speaker may serve instead of hiring additional speakers–perhaps the speaker could serve as emcee, coach your top performers in a reserved session, or facilitate the strategy session for the board of directors.

The all-inclusive airfare
Perhaps the speaker can donate frequent flier miles and get to the event, thus saving $500-$1000 in travel expenses. Or negotiate for “expenses not to exceed” if the event is more than 6 months out and the airfare might change dramatically.

Using money from different budgets
If the speaker has a book, provide one copy per attendee as a gift from your organization. At $10 per copy for 500 participants, you can reduce the speaker expense line item in your budget by $5000 and charge the materials budget, professional education, or publications budget instead.

Perhaps you could offer a lower speaking fee and pay for handout materials or workbooks for each attendee, using your printing budget. Or you could offer a membership in your organization for a year and offset some of the costs by using another portion of your budget. You could offer to videotape the speaker and provide a master copy. Many times the speaker would love to take their spouse along, so you can offset a portion of the fee and provide travel for two. Some speakers will offer package pricing for multiple bookings, so you could tap next year's budget by offering to book this year’s and next year’s conferences on different topics. Can the speaker write paid articles for your newsletter over the next year? Do you have a training budget or employee education budget that is separate from the conference budget? The key is to get creative in how you account for the speaker fee.

3. Discover Mutual Value
If you want the speaker and the speaker wants the opportunity to work with you, keep the communication open until you hit upon a situation that represents a “win” for you both. Does the speaker value being paid in full in advance? Do they have relatives in that town? Is the event is at a resort location? Maybe the speaker just wants to get on the inside track with the organization. Does the speaker have a slow calendar that month? Would you be willing to allow guests to attend the presentation for preview purposes?

The key is you never know what's valuable to the speaker, until you have these discussions. How can we both find value in this exchange, and how can we get to that point? The speaker must be able to justify the negotiation and explain why they did what they did to the next client.

4. Get Sponsorships
One very popular option is to have an exhibitor or supplier member sponsor the speaker. This can be a unique marketing opportunity for sponsors, to enable them to reach out to prospects. If the speaker is willing, you could offer the following benefits to your sponsor in exchange for paying the fee:

  • Mention and thank the sponsor in the program
  • Acknowledge the sponsor on your Web site
  • Allow sponsor to introduce the speaker and give a “live commercial”
  • The speaker gives numerous mentions of the sponsor from the main stage
  • If appropriate, the speaker can wear the sponsor's logo shirt during the talk
  • The speaker can sign books in the sponsor's booth after the program
  • The speaker can do a special talk for them just before the conference starts
  • The speaker can send a personal letter of invitation to the event to the sponsor's mailing list
  • Hang a banner ad behind the stage while speaker presents
  • Hand out individual fliers on each participant's chair
  • Include the sponsor's name and logo on the pages of the speaker's handouts

If you get creative, there's really no limit to the options you can use to attract a company to sponsor the speaker.

5. Provide Marketing Assistance
Some engagements are excellent marketing opportunities for speakers, when the audience members have the ability to hire them for future work in their individual organizations. So consider providing:

  • Your membership or attendee list with contact and e-mail information
  • A booth at the tradeshow
  • A link to the speaker's Web site on yours
  • A testimonial letter for the speaker's marketing kit
  • If you are a state association or chapter, you can offer referrals and promotional to the regional or national conferences
  • Letters of recommendation to key decision makers or executives in your industry
  • An advance article in your trade publication or newsletter
  • An opportunity to subscribe your members to the speaker's free monthly email newsletter
  • Approval to politely sell books and other resources in the back of the room
  • Free registration for the event, so the speaker can network
  • Complimentary advertising in your magazine for several editions, the conference flyer, and special e-mail notices before the conference with the speaker's Web site
  • On-site interviews by the newsletter editor
  • Assistance in garnering publicity on radio, newspaper, TV, and bookstore signings while the speaker is in your city.

Conclusion
In all cases, it is extremely important to justify the reason for the negotiation in the contract. For speakers to maintain fee integrity, they need to explain in detail why a “special case” was justified, and the arrangements should be kept confidential. One speaker had an awful experience when the announcer said, “It's incredible that so-and-so is here, since we got him for free!” Being a sales conference, it shot the speaker's credibility, since the participants were not told what was offered in exchange.

So in your speaker agreement, a special paragraph should start out, “Special consideration was given in the negotiation of the speakers fee for the following reasons…” You might actually place a dollar value on the items agreed to in the negotiation. Or you can simply discuss the value of items while negotiating and list the items in the contract.

“The real key in this process is to find innovative ways to create an exchange of equal value,” says Stephen Tweed, CSP, 2002-2003 President of the National Speakers Association. Both the meeting planner and the speaker need to feel like this is a fair deal. The Internet has turned airplane seats and hotel rooms into commodities, with shoppers looking for the lowest price. We don’t want to do that with speakers.” By working together, we can add value to each other's organizations and create true partnerships between speakers and meeting planners, to benefit the meetings industry as a whole.

Choosing a Comic Speaker

by Brad Montgomery

Synopsis: If you're looking for an entertaining speaker to perform at your event, your first thoughts might be to look for professional comedians or humorous speakers. In this article Brad Montgomery, a corporate humorist and motivational speaker, explains why it's a good idea to pick a corporate comedian to make sure the presentation stays clean.

Comedy is a great way to entertain and motivate the attendees at your conference or event. There's a lot of variety out there, though, and I know it's really possible to hire a comedian and expect one thing only to find another. One big difference exists, and that's the gap between the world of stand-up comedians and that of corporate speakers.

bald menCorporate comedians and stand-up comics have very different practices when it comes to language and the cleanliness of their humor. Comedy Clubs, the kinds of locations that are frequented by stand-up comics, have a much different atmosphere than a corporate gathering; you'll find comics cursing, using vulgar words, and just being generally free to have whatever wild antics they want to use to entertain their crowd. In a corporate setting, you probably want the same level of entertainment, but still need your comic to use presentable language and behavior. A company gathering is the natural habitat for the corporate comedian; he'll know what is and isn't okay to say, and will have had lots of practice with similar circumstances. Stand-up comics, on the other hand, will need to censor their normal material to make it appropriate for a kind of environment that they don't see as often. As such, corporate comedians are a better bet for a better-rehearsed, more natural humorous performance.

Another big contrast is in the subject matter that your comic will cover. Stand-up comics are probably used to a topic free-for-all; as long as it's funny, for them it's okay. Corporate comedians should know better than that, and should ask about potentially hostile territory to stay away from in their acts. Of course, there are some subjects that corporate comics know to avoid at any event; potentially offensive issues like gender, race, and sex can upset many people from many walks of life. Again, traditionally stand-up comedians are used to working without parameters – in a comedy club, practically nothing is strictly taboo. In the realm of business entertainment, though, these areas can cause more annoyance or injury than humor. When you go to a comedy club, you go expecting to hear some provocative statements; hiring a speaker to bring to your corporate event, though, you should realize that attendees might be expecting different things. Corporate comedians know how to keep comedy kosher in the business realm. Good corporate comedians will even ask you a few questions, probing areas that might be sensitive, and making sure that their overall act will be as entertaining and successful as possible. Stand-up comics just don't know as well what to ask – in their normal line of work, they don't worry about what is and isn't safe to say.

There's a reason corporate comedians market themselves as such. Humorous business speakers know the business world, and want to distinguish themselves as people capable of delivering a hilarious and appropriate performance. Stand-up comics might be funny too, but can be left to a personal Friday evening comedy club visit rather than a large corporate lunch or conference.

How do you know which comedian to hire?

The first thing you should do is to ask for references. You want a comic with a LONG track record working for business, corporate, and association audiences. You want a comedian who has been booked BACK to the same clients many times. And you want a comedian who can offer contact names and phone numbers of recent clients who will rave about him. (Or her.)

-Don't be afraid to ask your potential comic if he has worked clean in the past.

-Be concerned if most of your potential comedian's recent experience is in night clubs. They might be hilarious; but they might also be a headache in the making.

-Consider booking a comedian who is a CSP (Certified Speaking Professional.) This is the highest earned award from the National Speakers Association.) It is the mark of a true pro whom you can count on.

Bottom line? If you are looking for some hilarity for your corporate meeting or convention don't risk hiring anybody who doesn't have the skill and expertise to not only be funny… but to be safe and business appropriate.

Copyright 2005 By Brad Montgomery. May be reprinted with permission. Brad Montgomery, CSP, is a corporate comedian, humorous motivational speaker & corporate entertainer. Using his own blend of Hilarious Humor, as well as his Award-Winning magic, Brad reminds us that our lives are Fun & Funny, and Filled with Magic. Brad urges his groups to use humor and spontaneity to rediscover the 'magic' in our lives, our homes, and our jobs. Brad’s clients use him to open or close the convention, or for making their group smile somewhere in between.

Reach Brad at 800.624.4280 or www.BradMontgomery.com

Motivational Speakers: Tailor verses Customize?

Why Does Brad Tailor a Speaking Presentation?

Audiences get more out of a program where they are involved and engaged than from a program that bores them to tears. Duh. We all know this to be true…. If people are into it…they’ll learn and leave with value.

There are several ways to engage an audience. I use two huge techniques: Humor and Audience Participation. I know through experience from thousands of presentations that when groups are laughing, and laughing hard… they will sit and listen. And when they – and their friends and workmates – are directly involved in the presentation, they are on the edge of their seats.


Read more about this motivational speaker who customizes.

But the last technique I use – as do most pro speakers – is to tailor my presentation to your group. By learning about the specifics of your group’s needs, successes, failures, stresses, job titles and functions, acronyms, problems, etc…. I can drop in specific references to your group.

Why? There are two reasons why tailoring a program is important to you. First, because it makes it more relevant and meaningful. Instead of, for example, talking about the “things that stress you out on the job,” we talk about, “constantly filling out Trouble Reports For Cams” and the “Y3 Audits.” (Specific things that stress out people from THAT office.) When we talk specifically, people learn better. The second – and perhaps more important reason– that I tailor my programs is because referencing specific needs, people and events in a company make the program FUNNIER. Much funnier. Big time.

Tailor verses Customize.

The last thing you want is to hire a professional speaker to come in and present a totally new, never-been-done-before-a –live audience program. This fact is doubly true for funny motivational speakers, motivators, or even corporate comedians.

Why? Because you can’t guarantee success. Take Jay Leno and Dave Letterman. They – with the help of some of the best comedy writers in the world – present just a 10 minute monologue each night. Of that ten minutes, only 3 or 4 jokes are worth repeating the next day. This says nothing about Jay or Dave… what it does illustrate that writing stuff that you KNOW will work is very, Very, VERY difficult.

If you want a speaker who can promise a killer show –and you should – you want a speaker who is not writing from scratch. That is why I tailor a program.

By tailoring a program, I mean that I adapt my material –material that has been honed and tested before dozens (if not hundreds) of audiences. I do material I KNOW will work. But by tailoring the stories, messages, jokes, and humor to your group, the audience thinks that this tailored program is customized. In other words, I tailor a program creating the illusion that we are doing a once-in-a lifetime program. A one-shot deal. And the audience loves it.

But the meeting planner loves the fact that they are working with a sure bet.

What’s the bottom line?

It is very important for the success of the program that the audience is involved and engaged, and one of the best ways for this to happen is if the audiences witnesses (what they believe to be) a totally customized program.

However, in order to guarantee success, we are all better off to tailor a program. By adding audience-specific information to a honed, proven and professional presentation the audience believes they are seeing something created just for them. While at the same time the meeting planner is deservedly confident of the success of that speaker.

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Book-The-Right-Speaker Course A Free Four Day Course sent to you in Seconds We think this might be the coolest thing on the website… a free and valuable 4-day course that will help assure that you select the right speaker.

Tailored verses Customized Presentations What you need to know about the difference, and why you should care. Do you even want your speaker or corporate comedian to bother?

Selecting a Professional Speaker Tips and ideas about selecting the right professional speaker for your event, convention, or meeeting.

How to Choose a Comic Speaker    Not sure how to choose a comic speaker?  This article will give you some excellent tips.

What is a corporate comedian? Definition of corporate comedians, and how that will help you select the right one.

Why choose Humorous Motivational Speakers over Corporate Motivational Speakers? Is there a difference between humorous motivational speakers and corporate motivational speakers? What is it? Should you care?

Why You Should Hire a Professional Emcee / Master of Ceremonies. Is it worth the investment to get a pro to Emcee your event? Why you might want to look very closely at hiring a professional Master of Ceremonies / MC.


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