Monday, March 04, 2013

10 things speakers do that upset event planners

Well, it turned out that my piece on "10 things that event planners do to upset speakers" generated a lot of interest. So it's only fair that I present the other side of the case, based on my experience of organising and MC'ing events for many years. 

So here’s my list - fellow speakers please take note:

1) No communication before the event. It's important to prepare well, and for the event planner to be confident that everything is in place. Even if not asked, the speaker should let the planner know that everything is under control.

2) Arriving late. This is something that can cause great stress, especially if there are no messages from the speaker. Delays can happen, but the important thing is to keep in touch, so that last-minute changes can be made, and the planner can breathe easily.

3) Ignoring the rehearsal and sound check. If time has been set aside for a sound check and technical rehearsal, the speaker should be there. It's especially important if audio or video are being used. The technicians will be there, and their time should be respected too. Handing in your presentation just before you speak is not acceptable.

4) Using inappropriate language. Swearing or making tasteless remarks are unprofessional. The audience should be respected at all times.

5) Selling from the stage. This may be acceptable if agreed in advance, perhaps as a favour for a low fee or no fee. In any other circumstance, it's a no-no.

6) Not delivering what was agreed. It should be clear in advance what the speaker should be doing to meet the objectives of the organiser. Failing to deliver that is unforgivable. 

7) Poor visuals. One of the most common complaints I hear from planners and audiences is that a speaker's slides were awful. If you use slides, learn how to create effective visuals. It's not that hard.

8) Over-running. Going over the allocated time causes problems for everyone, including other speakers, who may have to cut their speeches short. The schdule of the event may be thrown into disarray too. There's no excuse for bad timekeeping. 

9) Leaving immediately after the speech. It's important to show respect to people who may wish to chat to speakers after their presentation. Ideally, a speaker should be there for the whole day at least. Not only is it polite, it will lead to more bookings.

10) Billing for every little thing. I'm told that some speakers claim expenses for phone calls to the planner, and cups of coffee at the airport. It's just a cost of doing business, and not worth the bad feeling it creates.

I'm sure that many speakers never do any of the above. But if you meet one who does, have a little word in their ear. Thanks.

Picture credit: Alan Stevens


Patrick Allmond said...

Thanks for sharing. #9 really gets my goat. For every event I attend I plan plenty of padding on both sides. Event planners are buying an experience, not an hour of you talking. Deliver a great experience.

Alan Stevens said...


Thanks for your comment. I agree. I'm appalled by so-called "professional" speakers that have a car booked twenty minutes after their presentation ends. It's one guaranteed way not to get recommended.

QJ said...

Alan, love your posts. This one really is spot on. Integrity is the word that springs to mind. A lot of the behaviours you describe are just rude, and I guess that some speakers don't get it that their reputation often starts with how they behave off-stage rather than on! Thanks for your great insights.

Sean Carroll said...

Speakers bill for coffee at the airport? Wow. That's really greedy behavior to be micro-itemizing like that.

Solid list of things here Alan, and good reminders to not take the simple things for granted when speaking at an event,

Anonymous said...

Thank you Alan, for these posts. As I said in my comment on previous one I am new in this industry and welcome every useful tip.So,far I had great experience with my speakers but it is good to know every aspect of it.