Preparing Industry Speakers: Part 2

November 13, 2014

Good Day Beautiful People,

Brian Palmer here. Last time I was with you, I talked about the importance of making sure your industry speakers know why they were invited, what you want them to do, what you want them to talk about and how you want their session to go.

Today I want to recommend that you provide your industry speakers with an opportunity to improve their presentation—some sort of a coach or an online tool. Skillshare has all sorts of public speaking classes that people can take. Make sure that people are going to be up to the task.

Industry speakers are often things that nobody else can give your attendees. So it’s wise to put some time and effort into telling them what you want them to do, but also give them some educational opportunities to make sure that they deliver a high quality product at your event.


Variety is the spice of meetings.

October 27, 2014

Good Day Beautiful People,

Brian Palmer here to talk about variety being the spice of a meeting. When you have a speaker that goes over well, there’s often a desire to bring in a similar speaker for this year’s event. I think it’s wise to go afield from the speaker that you had before. If you bring in the same sort of speaker, chances are it’s going to be compared to last year’s big success. It’s often difficult for somebody this year to compare favorably to last year’s success. I believe you should go pretty far afield from the success that you had last year. Bring somebody different in. Appeal to a different sensibility, and I think the odds of your event being well-received go up.

The Unknown Speaker

September 11, 2014

Good Day Beautiful People,

Brian Palmer here. We get to see a great many speaker evaluations and commonly, people say things on there like, “I had never heard of this speaker before, but boy, was she good! That was the highlight of the conference.”

We’ve often suggested that people, when they’ve never heard of the speaker, are delighted when that speaker does a particularly good job. We think it’s wise to hire really good speakers who might not be well known. They tend to cost a great deal less and create a particularly happy audience.

Satisfaction is somewhat a function of expectations, and when expectations aren’t particularly high, audiences find themselves particularly satisfied. I heard about this study that was done: “On the road to happiness, a pleasant surprise beats a sure thing.” That was the Washington Post article about the study which essentially said that audiences are particularly delighted when they get an unexpected surprise. I’ve got a link to the article below. You might want to read it and make sure that when you hire no-name speakers, they’re really good and you will particularly delight your group.

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Speaker

November 18, 2013

MPI’s Magazine, The Meeting Professional, recently featured an article written by Brian Palmer, CMM, President of National Speakers Bureau.

In this piece, he puts forth the notion that a process to prepare speakers should be in place for everyone who is to present, even those who might be appearing as a favor or in support of their own cause. It remains your event, and the odds of their talk achieving your objectives go up when your management is consistent.

You can read the full article here.

Top Ten Tips for Leading Yourself and Others in Challenging Times

October 23, 2013

From the National Speakers Bureau ~ Email National Speakers Bureau

In this article, Eileen McDargh gives ten tips for leading yourself and others in challenging times.

Tip #10:

Stop re-arranging the deck chairs. The greatest problem with change is that no one wants to admit that it can happen to them. The big three automakers kept ignoring signals from both the consumer as well as the market place. Be honest about potential downturns and get ready. Don’t create the doomsday, hand-wringing scenarios but ones that are well thought out with a plan of action in your back pocket. Contingency is the name of the game. It’s more like a fire drill. If you don’t have a plan, you can burn up!

Tip #9:

Go with what “brung ya.” My great-grandfather always said that what he knew was “shoes.” He didn’t know how to publish books, how to sell pigs feet or how to make a car. He stuck to what he knew: shoes. Since 1880, Reineberg’s Shoe Store has served the folks of York, PA. In an era where companies come and go, my family has stuck to what they know: shoes! It’s a simple testament to focus, to listening to the customers and to not speculating about acquisitions and mergers that make no sense from a resident knowledge base. Build your core and play to win from that strength.

McDargh 2 Shoes

Tip #8

Stop reading and listening to “the news.” A steady dose of downturns, depressing statistics, gloomy forecasts and shrill broadcasters can have anyone running for cover. Beside, it’s a waste of productive time to constantly be checking stock prices. Find one trusted source, listen or read it once and then—GET ON WITH IT! What will you choose to do now to advance today? So much of resiliency is a mental trip— a mindset that says “Yes I can” regardless of all the “No you can’t” pundits. It won an election. Positive presumption has moved football teams and armies. It can move you.

Tip #7

Fire up. Don’t flame out. Exhausted teams can’t carry a ball, a race, or an Olympic flag. Make sure that what you ask yourself and your team to do has clear implication for the future—and not just some exercise in futility that is done “because it’s the way we’ve always done it.” This is a great time to streamline, to examine procedures, to throw out and to straighten up. Fire people up with possibilities and stories of hope. Can you make a vision real? Meaningful? Everyone needs that picture. No one hops out of bed to give shareholders a greater return on their investment. As Seth Godin writes, “Can you imagine Apple founder Steve Job showing up for a paycheck?” Not a chance. He shows up for something he believes in.

Tip #6

Court and carry your valued customers. It is far too easy to lose valued customers if price and financial returns are the only basis for building a long-term relationship. Protect your customers now by asking what you can do to help them. Maybe they can’t buy your product or services now—but you might be able to offer something else. Or maybe, throw in a lagniappe—a little bit more. Apple just added an extra month on to their annual One-to-One customer-training program. It’s a gift. It matters.

Tip #5

Communicate without ceasing. In the absence of information, people often connect the dots in the most pathological way possible. Transparency and honesty are keys in keeping people connected and calm. How much better it is to know what we face together and what is being done than to guess and gossip about situations. A survey of employees posted in the USA TODAY indicated that the majority have had no word from senior leaders about the current business climate and its impact on their work.

McDargh 2 Training

Tip #4

Celebrate small wins. When times are tough, we need a daily dose of encouragement. What would happen if you ended each day on a positive note? What would happen if you closed each day by mentally congratulating yourself on what you did do?

Tip #3:

Do what others are not willing to do. Look for innovation. Train employees. Yes, spend money. Wisely. That’s what your competition is not doing. If you focus on quality instead of cutting corners, you will be poised to come out on top. Let any pain be felt from the top first. Too many organizations and government agencies solve budget deficits by going after “the little guys” first. Big mistake. Remember when Chrysler CEO Lacocca took $1 in salary? Employee and customer admiration and loyalty resulted.

Tip #2

Upsize your way to greatness. This is definitely what few will do. But cutting into muscle and bone only makes the corporate body ill-equipped to reenter the business arena when the economy improves. While others must build back bench strength and start from scratch, you are ready because you have been training and hiring for this moment. Consider encouraging older employees to take half-time retirement so they can pass along knowledge to newer and younger employees. It might be the perfect time to upgrade your skills.

Tip #1:

Say thank you. Nothing attracts supporters like positive energy. When times are tough, staying positive seems like a hard battle. Gratitude is the key. The work conducted at the University of Pennsylvania by Dr. Martin Seligman underscores the value of expressing gratitude on a daily basis. Studies of character strength in tens of thousands of people across the U.S. have shown that feeling and practicing gratitude is the single strongest predictor of satisfaction with life. Find three people each day and tell them why you are grateful for them. Write down three “gratitudes” each night in a journal. You’ll sleep better. In the words of philosopher Howard Zinn, “To have hope one doesn’t need certainty, only possibility.” Here’s to the possibility of a transformed and brighter tomorrow.

For more on Eileen McDargh, visit her page.



October 2, 2013

Today’s topic is lighting. We actually do a good bit of our listening with our eyes. We take meaning from a person’s expression and the way they’re using their hands. If you can’t see their face and if you can’t almost read their lips, it’s harder to get some of the subtle meanings. So, it’s important to have the space where your speaker is appearing be well lit so audiences can see them well.

I think that’s one of the things that drove the advent of image magnification – so that a speaker’s face was a lot bigger, and they could see the speaker. And when he or she might wink at an audience or make a subtle move, the speaker can be seen better – a lot better – on your screen.

Writing Contract Riders

September 25, 2013

Contract riders have a lot more to do than with blue M&M’s. It’s usually a list of things that need to be in place that help the performer do his very best.

I think it’s a very good idea to have your own rider of sorts. You might not want to call it that, but I think it’s wise to have a list of things you want speakers to do and things you want to happen at your event – things based on history that will help the session go well, things like a speaker not talking about their books too much in their presentation or arriving at a certain time in the day. You can learn every time you book a speaker, refine that list, and implement it every time you book somebody new to increase the likelihood that your objectives are met.

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