Conference News September 2021 - Page 37

37 Interview
Choosing a speaker
Dos and Don ’ ts
Do l Discuss content closer to the event l Ask the speaker how they prefer to deliver a speech l Encourage audience engagement
Don ’ t l Hire a speaker just days before the event l Be prescriptive , let the speaker work on content with you l Just pick a ‘ big name ’ for the sake of it . What ’ s your vision ? they are two distinct methods of communication ,” he says .
“ That ’ s what this is now , and we were not quick enough as an industry to realise . As someone in the keynote speaking business , I realised I had to educate my speakers about the fact they can ’ t just replicate their usual impersonal speech online .
“ Their key messages are exactly the same , but how they deliver them online is different . This realisation fundamentally changed the role of the virtual event , as opposed to the in-person event .”
Gold believes that , with the right event planning , an organiser can get more out of a speaker in a virtual setting .
“ To have a speaker who really understands how to draw the best out of the audience is absolutely critical . You can get more value out of a speaker in a virtual setting than you ever could from an in-person event . Why : because the speaker expects to be quizzed .
And , on top of that , you end up with more content ,” he says .
“ The virtual setting allows them to react to the moment in a more intimate environment , as opposed to when they ’ re on stage in front of thousands of people , and they ’ re delivering their set speech : they are almost detached ,” he adds .
“ The role of the host has evolved , and is actually about how can they draw the best out of the audience , too .”
Bring them in early
When a speaker should be brought into the process is often part of the planning that gets overlooked . Speakers are seldom ‘ identikit ’ and you can ’ t just drop any old one into an event and expect it to fly . A speaker is a central component , so surely it makes sense to almost design the event around them .
“ We have never understood why an entire event got booked , say , 18 months in advance , such as the venue , catering and so on , and then we receive a call the day beforehand asking for a ‘ good speaker ’ to fill a critical keynote slot towards the end of the day ,” says Gold .
“ Don ’ t get me wrong , we ’ re always able to supply a great speaker , but you can ’ t help but think how much better the event could have been if the speaker had been brought in early .
“ They all have their idiosyncrasies and ways of doing things and will very likely will have done more events than the organiser themselves , so they know what works and what doesn ’ t .”
In essence , the role between speaker and organiser almost becomes consultative .
“ We love it ,” says Gold . “ And we hope that when , as in-person events return , this kind of discussion happens much earlier , because the truth is that when speakers have input in to how the event runs at an early stage , they are more likely to deliver an amazing event for the client as well .” CN www . conference-news . co . uk