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4 Critical Mistakes Event Planners Make When Booking a Professional Speaker

Posted by WWSG Staff on Nov 9, 2015 2:33:00 PM


From searching for the right speaker to nailing down the logistics of a speaker’s travel, planning a large-scale event is no easy feat. Often times event and meeting planners take on this task on their own, only to come to realize it was a much larger undertaking then they had planned for. As a professional services firm in the global lecture industry that has placed thousands of speakers all over the world, we house some of the most experienced event planners that continue to define our distinctive event planning process as world class. Here are some of the most common mistakes we see made during the DIY event planning process as it relates to speakers.

Lack of Communication

The facility of communication between the speaker’s camp and the meeting planner is key throughout the entire process leading up to an event. More often than not, high-profile speakers have a million and one things going on outside of your event. Between book tours, press conferences and other speaking engagements, your speaker may not always be quick to respond, if they respond at all. This poses a problem for meeting planners trying to stay on top of an event. However, the personal relationships between a speakers bureau’s professional event planners and the specific speakers and their teams guarantees a constant level of communication throughout the entire process.

Additionally, planning a few conference calls with the whole team ahead of time is very beneficial to the success of an event. A conference call is an opportune time for the speaker to hear firsthand about the event objectives, the size and make-up of the audience and also gives the speaker a chance to engage with the meeting planners and adjust their content accordingly. Frequently, the nature of the DIY process is hectic and chaotic. Most of the time something as small as scheduling a conference call with the speaker is often overlooked. At the end of the day, the lack of planning and communication will make for a haphazard event. Hiring a speakers bureau with an expert in-house event planner resolves miscommunications and ensures all the planning is taken care of well in advance.

Level of Service

When hiring a notable speaker for an event, it’s important to roll out the red carpet. The high level of service provided to the speaker leading up to an event, as well as the day of the event, is important in making them feel comfortable and valued. It is usually an aspect of the process that DIY planners simply cannot provide. Skilled event planners who work with distinguished speakers day in and day out know the speaker’s tendencies, their snack preferences and how they take their coffee. Industry-leading speakers bureaus have formed partnerships with keynote speakers that event planners are unable to mimic.

No Back-Up Plan

As with any event, there are always unexpected speed bumps along the way. It is important cover your bases in the event of an emergency with a solid back-up plan. One of the most common mistakes we see made by DIY event planners is not having a plan B if the speaker happens to cancel last minute. Having been around the block a time or two, we know that speakers bureaus do everything they can to mitigate these risks ahead of time. We work with speakers whom we have fostered close relationships with and are known for their excellent track record with speaking engagements.

Recently we spoke with a DIY event planner who hired a media personality for an important yearly customer event. The speaker cancelled last minute leaving everyone scrambling. She described this feeling as “being left at the altar.” It is plain and simple: customers themselves don’t have the close relationships with speakers that professional bureaus do, allowing for that extra level of protection against mishaps. 

Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck

The right keynote speaker is singlehandedly the contributing factor for the success of your event. Speakers are a huge investment so it is key that you are getting the most bang for your buck. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to take advantage of everything the speaker has to offer. One of the best ways to do this is keeping the event schedule in mind during the planning phase. You want to avoid scheduling the keynote during a meal. As professional speaking coach and author Dr. Nick Morgan says, “If you’re paying for a keynote, don’t make it compete with food! (Or digestion).”

The level of engagement with the audience can make or break an event. Set aside time after the speech for a reception where the speaker can further engage with the attendees and keep up the enthusiasm. Having the speaker go the extra mile by staying a little longer, meeting with audience or doing a book signing really makes all the difference in the eyes of the audience. Another great way to make the most of the experience is to generate buzz prior to the event. Arrange time for your keynote to create a short video clip of the overall presentation that will act as a promotional tool used to excite attendees and spark additional registrants.

While planning an event on your own may seem to be the most cost-effective solution at the time, there are a number of value adds a speakers bureau provides that are simply impossible to recreate during the DIY process. Avoiding these common mistakes with the expert help of a bureau will help set you and your event up for success.


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