by Shawn Ellis
Sometimes, you just need a dynamic keynote presentation – someone who will “wow” your audience for an hour or so and leave them with some intriguing thoughts to ponder. Sometimes, you need something more.
With tighter meeting budgets and with an emphasis on the value of meetings today, it is imperative that you be able to justify the investment of $10,000 or $20,000 or $50,000 or even more in a featured keynote speaker. Is that thought-provoking keynote session enough to deliver the results you’re looking for? Does that marquee name on your program give you the attendance boost you need? Are your organization, your attendees, your customers, your sponsors, your shareholders and others – your full range of event beneficiaries – fully satisfied with your speaker selection?
If the answer to any of the above questions is “no,” it may be time to revise your speaker objectives in one of two ways: (1) decrease your spending on speakers, or (2) demand a greater return on your current investments (ROI). The first option will save you money, but you have to determine what you may lose by securing a speaker with a lower market value than your previous selections, and whether the potential gains outweigh those losses. The second option does not change the expenditure, but yields greater benefits so that your investment in speakers is fully justified. That is our objective here.
Mark Sanborn, known as “the high-content speaker who motivates,” initiated a move toward expertise among professional speakers during his tenure as president of the National Speakers Association a few years ago. Recognizing that the “three points and a poem” approach to motivational speaking no longer provided real value in a changing marketplace – one that demands real ROI – Sanborn charged the NSA to become an association of “experts who speak professionally” rather than just an association of good speakers. This shift in focus led to far more content-driven keynotes being delivered, yielding greater benefits to those who hired the speakers, and to those who heard them.
Today, the necessity of booking a high-content speaker is a given. If you want to really maximize the return on your investment, you must seek affirmative answers to three questions of your prospective speakers:
- Does the speaker research your audience, your organization, your customers, or other key constituents prior to speaking at your event? Most speakers perform pre-event research to some degree, but those who will be most valuable to you are those who will conduct multiple interviews, or even survey your entire audience base for added perspective. Speakers must recognize the key issues facing your attendees in order to deliver a presentation that targets those issues.
- Does the speaker deliver a customized presentation based on the findings of his or her research? Including “I’m honored to be with the XYZ Company here in Phoenix today” in the opening remarks does not count as true customization. Neither does saying, “I know that those of you in sales are especially affected by what we’re talking about today.” Those comments only indicate that a speaker knows who he is speaking to, not that he understands who he is speaking to. The core of a speaker’s message will remain the same, since that core is reflective of the speaker’s expertise. The customization comes in bridging that expertise to provide a real solution for the problem(s) your attendees face.
- Does the speaker offer any kind of follow-up content delivery beyond the keynote? A good keynote speaker will deliver a thought-provoking message that leaves the attendees pondering how they can apply the lessons of the presentation. As a result, the positive impact of the keynote will continue to rise for a period after the keynote has concluded. Without any kind of follow-up, though, this rise will naturally peak and begin to decline within hours, days or weeks after the session concludes. This is only natural – the teacher is no longer available. Thanks to technological advances, this does not have to be the case today, and many speakers – those with true expertise – offer some options to continue that positive impact for months to come. This could be in the form of podcasts, webinars, articles for your newsletter – there are many options. This will prevent that steep decline that comes after a keynote wears off.
The essential criteria for selecting a speaker remain in effect – find someone within your budget, with a dynamic, engaging style that fits your audience, etc. But once you have narrowed the field with those standard selection practices, narrow it further by asking the questions above. Doing so will guarantee high ROI on your next speaker booking, benefitting you, your attendees, your organization – everyone connected to your event.
High-ROI speaking engagements is our specialty here at The Speakers Group, by the way. Fill out the short form below or give us a call at 615-526-6600 for a free consultation.