How to Maximize the Value of Your Speaker Bookings

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How to Maximize the Value of Your Speaker Bookings

by Shawn Ellis Founder & President, The Speakers Group

There is a lot of talk about the value of meetings these days. Are meetings valuable? Or are they frivolous and unnecessary? If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you know how important meetings, events and incentive programs are in serving specific business purposes. When executed properly, they can help to: •

Boost employee performance

Fuel company growth and profitability

Enhance customer engagement

Deepen relationships

Improve company culture

Increase employee retention

And much more!

We at The Speakers Group (parent of ROI Speakers) want to help you add even more value to your meetings by helping you maximize the value of your speaker bookings. Given that a keynote speaker is one of the largest single investments for your meeting, you should expect a significant return on that investment. Doing so is good for you, good for your organization, good for your attendees, and good for everyone else connected to your event. What follows in this Special Report are some tips and strategies to help in that endeavor.

A New Way of Thinking

In order to maximize the value of your speaker booking, we have to start at the very beginning, with the selection process. The traditional process of booking speakers looks something like this:


1. Establish budget for speaker(s). 2. Determine topics of interest. 3. Seek speakers who fit within the parameters of #1 and #2. 4. Watch preview videos of speaker candidates. 5. Make selection. The system is tried and true, and likely has helped you create what is conventionally deemed a successful engagement many times in the past. You’ll come in at or under budget. Your speaker will click with your attendees. Your attendees feel satisfied that they gained acquired valuable information. Mission accomplished. With all the attention on the value of meetings today, though, is merely satisfying your attendees enough return on investment (ROI) to justify the expense of hiring that marquee keynote speaker? Dr. Jack Phillips of the ROI Institute delivered a presentation at Meeting Professionals International’s 2008 World Education Congress titled “Simplifying ROI.” [Download the mp3 here.] In that session, he urged meeting planners to move from activity-based meetings to results-based meetings as a means to make their programs more valuable. It’s a subtle, yet powerful shift in philosophy, and we can apply that same shift to speaker bookings, too. If you take an activity-based approach to your meeting design, you see a speaker as just one “activity” on the meeting agenda – the engagement is confined to that 45 or 60 minutes on your program. Find a speaker who can generate the highest rating during that time and all is well. If we move to a results-based approach, though, everything changes. Of course you still want your keynote speaker to thrill the audience while he or she is on stage, but you don’t see the engagement as ending when that session ends. Instead, you see that session as the spark for long-term transformation – the catalyst of change that will generate real results. The keynote is now just one element of the engagement; not the whole engagement. 3

Redefining Speaker Criteria

When you’re looking at your meeting as a vehicle to achieve results, and at a speaker as a partner in the pursuit of those results, you have to change your speaker evaluation tactics. No longer is a relevant topic, a dynamic presentation style and an acceptable fee enough to find the right speaker. While those factors are still important, you must also look for speakers who will: a. Conduct pre-event research to understand your audience, your organization, your industry, your marketplace, your competition – whatever is appropriate based on your event and your objectives. Most speakers will conduct a surface-level evaluation of your audience and your objectives, but you want a speaker who digs deeper. b. Deliver a keynote that is guided and customized based on the findings of that preevent research. The core of the speaker’s presentation will be his or her signature message – because you’re hiring that speaker for his or her unique expertise – but this material will be presented in a way that has maximum relevance to your audience for more effective application. c. Offer one or more means of follow-up content delivery to expand on and sustain the content of the keynote presentation. This could be in the form of a workshop or breakout session immediately following the keynote, one-on-one or group coaching, supporting articles that are distributed to your attendees at specified intervals after your event, a webinar, podcasts – there are a number of options. The key is to advance what was begun by the keynote.


Higher Expectations

With the revised speaker requirements in place, now it’s time to look at the business objective(s) of your meeting or event. For example, maybe you want to: •

Educate your sales force, channel partners and customers

Align vision, strategy and tactics among your employees

Motivate and reward employees for achievement and productivity

Gather customers to obtain feedback, build networks, provide product training and gather ideas for enhancements to your company’s product offerings

Deliver additional training and development to improve your employees’ or association members’ skills and/or their familiarity with your products or services

Based on your objective(s), you obviously want speakers who have expertise that can help you in pursuit of those objectives. But how can you best leverage a speaker’s expertise to help you achieve your goals? Your top speaker candidates will be able to offer some ideas as you’re interviewing them, but it’s also important for you to define some of your expectations in advance. To help, ask yourself some questions: 1. What kind of experience do you want your speaker to create on-site? How would you like your event participants to respond during the speaker’s presentation? 2. What kind of content would be most valuable to your attendees? 3. What is the desired application of the material the speaker shares? How would you like them to be able to implement their newly acquired information/skills/etc. when they return to work? 4. What is the ultimate outcome you’re looking for once your attendees apply the speaker’s material? Improved leadership? Increased sales?


Write out your answers to those questions, and then turn around and ask the following correlated questions of the speaker candidates you are considering: 1. What is the reaction/experience created by your presentation? How will your presentation satisfy my event participants? 2. Does your presentation create a true learning experience? Is information, knowledge, or skill gained from your content? 3. Can the information, knowledge or skill from your presentation be applied by my attendees on a regular basis? 4. What is the impact of an individual (or a team of individuals) applying the lessons learned from your presentation? Does application of those lessons yield a change in performance, attitude, or other target areas? 5. The true measure: Does your presentation generate a real monetary benefit in the short-term or long-term, in comparison to the cost of engaging you? Compare the speaker’s answers with your expectations, as defined when you answered the questions. Then, your final task is simply to determine which speaker’s proposition is most valuable to you.

The Final Outcome

When you move from activity-based thinking to results-based thinking with your speaker selection, you will create not only a dynamic keynote session, but a real learning experience that will generate a measurable, lasting impact on your organization, your attendees and all of your meeting stakeholders. Your meeting becomes more valuable with higher ROI, resulting in greater respect from senior management, more support for meetings, greater satisfaction and enthusiasm among your attendees, and much, much more.


If you would like more help in maximizing the value of your speaker bookings, we’re standing by at The Speakers Group and ROI Speakers ready to help! Visit us online at, or call us at 615.526.6600 and select option 2. Here’s to making your next event the best yet!


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