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key Spring 2009

published by The Speakers Group

Greetings! In the world of meetings, the hot topic these days is “value.” Due to a few unfortunate, isolated incidents, meetings have recently been painted by some as being unnecessary and frivolous. Now the question is being asked: Are meetings valuable? You and I, of course, know the answer to that one. Whether you want to defend the value of meetings based on their economic impact, their effect on the organizations that hold them, or their effect on the individuals who attend them, there is no denying the fact that meetings matter. We must keep meeting! (Check out for more on that.) At The Speakers Group, value is on our minds, too. For instance: We’re helping our clients add value to their meetings with relevant, high-impact speakers. We’re offering direct value in our service to planners – not by providing access to a virtually limitless array of speakers (we do, but so does Google!), but by offering expert advice to help clients select the right speakers for their unique event objectives, and by saving them time and helping them manage risk in the process. And value was our guiding light as we developed this inaugural issue of TSG Key Notes, too. Rather than put yet another speaker catalog on your desk, we wanted to create a publication that would help you manage your meetings more effectively – whether you work with The Speakers Group, other speakers bureaus, or directly with speakers. So, here is the final result. Inside, you’ll learn: 1. Three criteria to help you maximize the ROI from your next speaker booking (p. 3) 2. Thought leader Keith Ferrazzi’s insights on how to make your meeting CANCEL-PROOF (p. 4-5) 3. What Twitter is all about and 9 practical ideas to make it work for you (p. 6) We hope you will find TSG Key Notes to be a helpful resource, and we would love to hear your feedback. Let us know how we can be of service to you.

Shawn Ellis Over 10 years of service to Meeting Professionals Founder & President - The Speakers Group

to Get Maximum ROI from Your Next

Speaker Booking

Sometimes, you’re just looking for a dynamic keynote speaker – someone who will your audience for an hour or so and leave them with some intriguing thoughts to ponder. There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes, you’re looking for something more. Especially in this economy.


With meeting budgets tightening, and with a very bright spotlight 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 to warrant the fee? 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 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 was no longer the right solution for 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 contentdriven 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, though, 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?


Does the speaker offer any kind of follow-up content delivery beyond the keynote?

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.

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, teleconferences, or articles for your newsletter, among the 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. 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.

Want help finding speakers who answer “yes” to the three questions above? The Speakers Group has launched a new initiative – aptly titled ROI Speakers – exclusively representing speakers who fit this profile. For more information, please visit While you’re there, download a free Special Report on How to Maximize the Value of Your Speaker Bookings.

is one of our most acclaimed keynote speakers and conference facilitators. He is the author of the bestselling Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time and now Who’s Got Your Back, on shelves in May 2009. As CEO of the business consulting firm Ferrazzi Greenlight, Keith has counseled the world’s top enterprises on how to dramatically accelerate the development of business relationships to drive sales, spark innovation, and create team cohesion. He has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Inc., and Fast Company, and has appeared on Today and other national TV. I sat down with him in March to pick his brain on a timely topic for meeting planners: how to make your event cancel-proof. The answer, as you’ll see, boils down to something that seems simple, but takes expertise to execute well.

What can meeting planners do to make sure their meeting is so valuable that it is “uncancellable”? Meetings are all about face time. There are all kinds of tactical business or sales goals behind a conference, of course, but why not just do it on a teleconference? One reason: There’s nothing better than real face-time to build relationships, break down silos, and solve problems, especially when you’ve got a big group. And whatever your field or industry, whatever your goals, relationships are critical to business success - now more than ever. As part of my business, I’ve got an entire team of academics and scientists assembling the data that proves it.

But if it’s just about face time and face time is so important, why are there conferences and events that are at risk? Event organizers don’t always maximize the total relationship potential of every aspect of their event. First of all, too many keynote speakers aren’t much more than entertainment. So the launch of an event is just people sitting in rows of chairs, watching somebody talk at them from the front of the room. There’s nothing wrong with entertainment, but I think a keynote done right can create something with more lasting importance. And second, many conference facilitators don’t provide enough structure around relationship building. It’s an area where people appreciate some help. Just the idea of “networking” tends to get people in a cold sweat. Instead of real relationships, all that’s produced is some awkward, shy interaction, maybe some successful small talk and business card swapping. But do people follow up with those business cards? Don’t count on it.

So what kind of structure are you talking about? There are two important keys to creating sustainable relationships – and to creating a cancel-proof event. No relationships, no success, no guarantee of survival. People have to CARE, right? I’ll demonstrate by how I approach giving a talk. The first key is getting an audience to immediately taste what I talk about – the groundwork for deep relationships that create success – right in the room, during the talk. I get the audience interacting with each other, and give them a safe structure to start making real connections that they carry through the rest of the conference, and if we’ve done our jobs right, well beyond it. Basically, it gives them not only permission to make

friends, but some help, too. They love it. Second, I create some structure around sustainability by having them make commitments to each other – ways they’ll help each other be successful at the conference, and throughout the year. The way I see it, I’m unleashing the real horsepower behind any event – the participants themselves. That’s just a micro version of what a conference organizer has to do for the entire event: look for every opportunity to get the attendees engaged with one another, and engaged in ways that last beyond just a couple of days. That’s the power that’s going to keep your event thriving, year after year. It’s priceless, and it makes your event cancel-proof. KF. See page 7 for more help from Keith Ferrazzi and learn how to get full details of Keith’s Who’s Got Your Back Keynote Package - as well as videos of Keith, a book excerpt and more.

POWER UP YOUR MEETING WITH KEITH FERRAZZI’S WHO’S GOT YOUR BACK KEYNOTE PACKAGE “Cancel-proof” your event with Keith’s uniquely effective 4-stage formula, based on the book’s breakthrough program to build the relationships that create success:

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PREP: Participants receive the “Conference Commando” handbook, a practical and tactical set of directions on how participants maximize their ROI at your event. PERMISSION: During Keith’s inspired keynote - “Turning a Down Market into an Opportunity for Greater Loyalty and Deeper Relationships: Mutual Support for Mutual Success” - participants are given permission to let their guard down to unlock new potential.


PRACTICE: Audience interaction sets the tone for the entire event. Participants form buddy groups, with builtin exercises to form mutual bonds.


PERMANENCE: The program creates structured sustainability. Not only do these buddy groups make commitments to help each other at the conference, they also commit to helping make each other’s careers and individual initiatives more successful in the weeks and months to come. Weeks after your conference, the event is still ongoing!

“We could not have chosen a better way to kick off our conference than Keith. He energized the audience, increased the level of engagement and connection among attendees, and provided important learning that carried over through the balance of the conference. The feedback we have received has been outstanding.

- managing director, healthcare businesswoman’s association

for Meeting Planners: 9 ideas to Make It Work for @1 says: Gain “followers.” This is an elementary Twitter lesson, but you do need “followers” if you want to “talk.” On Twitter, your “followers” are your audience. Promote your Twitter address through your web site, newsletter or other existing forms of communication to get started. I am by no means a social media guru, but having worked with meeting planners for 10 years and being a Web 2.0 enthusiast, I’m happy to offer some insights into how you can benefit from including this popular tool in your event management toolbox. To really evaluate how (or whether) you can use Twitter to your advantage, first recognize what it is at its core: a tool for communication. How important is communication in the meetings industry? You need to communicate with your attendees leading up to a program. You communicate with your attendees at the program. Your attendees communicate with one another at the program. Communication is key. Understanding what Twitter is, you can then ask this question: Is Twitter a viable form of communication for my audience? Twitter is not for everyone, but its reach is greater than you think… and growing. If you decide Twitter might be right for your audience, then there are five general objectives that can be pursued for any social media (including Twitter), according to the authors of the book, Groundswell: Listening (use formal or informal observation to better understand your audience) Talking (share ideas with your audience) Energizing (talk; aim especially for enthusiastic Twitterers and fuel word-of-mouth) Supporting (help your audience base, and help them help one another) Embracing (act as a facilitator to help members of your audience base engage together to improve your events) With those five objectives in mind, here are nine specific ideas of how you can utilize Twitter in the meetings world:

@2 says: Announce your event registration details and share a link to your registration page. You can even schedule “tweets” in advance using the TweetLater tool @ http:// so you can set announcements to show at planned times running-up to your event - i.e. “Early registration ends Friday.” (talk) @3 says: Ask prospective attendees for their input on site selection, or what kinds of content they’re interested in, or other event details. (listen/embrace) @4 says: Share updates about your event with attendees. For example: highlight special events on the program, announce entertainment/speaker line-up, etc. (talk/energize) @5 says: Use Twitter at your venue. One way to do so: John Wilker of 360Conferences said they set up flat screen TVs around their venue with a Twitter wall application running so everyone could see what other attendees are saying, which provides added fun and increases engagement. (supporting) @6 says: Search Twitter for topics/issues/concerns that are relevant to you. For example, watch for chatter about your company, meeting, speakers, location, etc. See http://search. (listen) @7 says: Follow “experts” who can help you. For example, popular meetings industry consultant Corbin Ball is @ You can use Twitter’s “Find People” function to search for names or other keywords associated with a person. (listen) @8 says: Make your Twitter feed serve as “info central” - at least the quick reference version - for your event and suggest attendees follow it for special announcements, agenda changes, etc. This will help you attract more followers, as it adds to the value of your feed. (talk) @9 says: As an example of how to accomplish @8 above: Announce known travel alerts, flight delays, etc. on the day(s) your attendees are arriving - and let them know beforehand that you’ll be doing that. (talk/supporting)

For more information, read the original post on our blog at search for the keyword “twitter.” Also, follow The Speakers Group on Twitter at: @ (Shawn Ellis, founder) @ (Milam Byers, lead agent)

@ • Submit your meeting profile and request a free speaker proposal from ROI Speakers • Sign up to receive a free special report on how to maximize the value of your speaker bookings

@ • Watch Keith’s PSA video about Why Meetings Matter • Download Keith’s Top Ten Networking Tips • See Keith speak about the power of relationships in sales, leadership and thriving in a down economy • Download a full PDF summary of Keith’s Who’s Got Your Back keynote package • Check Keith’s availability for your next event • Download an excerpt of Keith’s new book: Who’s Got Your Back? @ • Search for keyword “twitter” and read the original post with links to more resources about mastering the social media tool and utilizing it to enhance your meeting management

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Just call The Speakers Group! We’ll relieve your worry and help you find the perfect speaker to match your budget, program objectives and audience expectations. You can count on us to save you time, eliminate risk, and make you the hero of your next event. But no need to take our word for it. Here are comments from some of our recent clients: “You have once again been great to work with! I can’t tell you how much more relaxed I am just knowing you are also working on the details!”


“I really appreciate your help. Working with you has been so easy, a refreshing change from other speaker bureaus!”

“It has been a pleasure working with you... You have taken the time to understand our objectives and you have helped us secure the perfect speakers for our events. I know I can always count on you for friendly, knowledgeable and reliable service. Thank you very much...”

“Fantastic program, fantastic speakers and fantastic service from you and your staff. I will never attempt to book a speaker on my own after seeing all of the detailed work your company does to ensure a great program for the client and speakers alike. Thanks again for making my program a ‘10’!”

TSG Key Notes Magazine - Spring 2009  
TSG Key Notes Magazine - Spring 2009  

Spring 2009 issue of The Speakers Group's mini-magazine featuring Keith Ferrazzi's insights on "How to Make Your Meeting Cancel-Proof," plus...