the care and feeding of public speakers

by smb on May 14, 2009

a wish-list manifesto of things to think about when contracting with a public speaker from a couple of public speakers…

Co-complied with Robert from

What I deserve:

  • actually tell me what you want me to do: saying ‘ just talk about that thing you talk about’ is not actually helpful.  The same goes for the direction of ‘just be funny’ or ‘inspire us’.
  • Stop asking me for my slides so you can copy and distribute – you are only perpetuating ‘death by powerpoint’ – ask for handouts (in fact, insist on actual handouts)
  • Ask me how I’m attending to adult learning principles, yes I should know some of those..
  • Give me context, it might be fun to watch me walk into ideological chopper-blades in front an audience, but trust me – It’s only a short term thrill.
  • Tell me about who I am speaking to – unless I’m speaking at my family reunion, I promise I don’t know your audience as well as you do
  • I am not a superhero – one hour (or even one day) of my wisdom will not resolve all of your internal conflicts, solve world hunger, or re-imagine your industry.  Stop asking — or pay more.
  • Tell me what you want your learning outcomes to be – don’t make me guess, I’ll cheat.
  • Before I get there, send me a nice easy email that details where I’m going, the time I’m presenting, the duration of the speech and who my on-site contact person – trust me, I don’t want to page (and re-page) through your beautiful brochure.
  • Tell me about the layout of the room – sitting at tables?  In rows?  Will I be able to walk around?  Am I going to be chained to a podium? Are you going to make me walk in front of the LCD projector 300 times?  Dear god, are they going to be eating?
  • If I’ve been told to prepare a 60 minute speech, don’t start late, introduce your conference committee for 15 minutes, announce the raffle, thank the conference sponsors and their progeny and then look at me with an embarrassed grin, apologize for going ‘a little over’ and inform me that I now have 40 minutes.
  • Don’t fear the Mac.
  • Until we perfect small-scale cold fusion, I NEED A PLUG – make sure I get one.
  • Evaluate me – I want to get better, make sure I get feedback.

What you deserve:

  • Sure, I’m a great writer, a ton of fun to speak with on the phone, or perhaps you’ve seen me on TV, double check that I can actually speak (it’s different)
  • Demand that I actually write a speech for you, not just recycle the old song and dance.
  • Good speakers are an investment.  If I am giving the speech for free – you might get what you pay for.  If you are paying me, I’d better deliver.
  • You deserve better than cheap humor and site gags (it’s time to let Gary Larson enjoy his retirement) –unless it’s REALLY good.
  • If you are asking me to be attend the entire event (and you did ask, right?), I should be present and available – not hiding in my room to return emails, or standing in the lobby checking my voicemail.
  • You deserve better than a drive-by.  If I am flying in, spending 2 hours on site for a speech and then leaving, I’m not going to connect with your audience.
  • Sure, I’m busy.  But if I’m giving a talk that’s important to you I should make time to discuss where you want me to go.
  • I’m not an accountant, but I can be clear ahead of time about what I’m charging you for and then after bill for it quickly.
  • Having me at an event should elevate both of us.  I should feel enriched for having met your group, and you should feel like I respected your audience, your mission and work.

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the care and feeding of public speakers | Ideal Fusion Consulting
May 17, 2009 at 12:14 am

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