Government Connections - Spring 2010 - (Page 21)

GOOD TO KNOW 20 Questions to Ask BEFORE Hiring a Speaker By Charles Sadler, CGMP, CHSP, CHSC PLANNING LOGISTICS FOR a meeting and getting the details right is difficult enough, but selecting and working with speakers and can be downright unnerving. Even before you start begging for speaker outlines, biographies, photos and handouts, you have to figure out who is best to meet the established goals of your meeting. I have been responsible for selecting keynote and session speakers for SGMP since 2002, and I can tell you some stories. Fortunately, for the most part, those speaker selections were right on target. But, I have to admit I had one or two bombs in eight years. I want to share with you my “Good to Know” practices to help you avoid a few minefields by asking the following questions to size up your potential speakers. 1. Is the speaker’s topic right for my 2. 3. audience? Does the speaker have verifiable references? Does the speaker have audio and/or video demonstration materials? These materials should show you what the speaker is like in front of an audience. Caution: Don’t get hung up on the topical information on the demo tape. Remember that you are looking to see how the speaker or trainer works at the front of the room. To what level does the speaker customize? Is the speaker entertaining as well as informative? Does the speaker do thorough preprogram research, like interviewing employees or members of the organization, or obtaining information about the organization and industry, to prepare for the presentation? Does the speaker provide handout masters and/or finished handouts? Often your organization’s name, logo and particulars can be incorporated in the handout. Does the speaker involve the audience? Depending on the type of presentation (e.g., a lecture or a training workshop), the speaker should speak directly to the audience and encourage questions. Does the speaker use only clean and appropriate humor? Even slightly off- 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. color, racial, ethnic or gender-based jokes or comments can turn your audience off in a heartbeat. Ask the speaker’s references about this. 10. Does the speaker accommodate hearing and sight impaired audience members (e.g., handouts in Braille, audio tapes, etc.)? 11. Is the speaker accessible to all attendees before and after the event? Make sure the speaker is willing to arrive early and stay for a while after the event. The audience will want to shake hands, ask questions, get autographs and ask about materials for sale. Tip: Always include a break after each speaker. 12. Does the speaker “hard sell” products from the platform? 13. Is the speaker’s office responsive to requests for information and helpful with answering your questions? 14. Is the speaker easy to get along with, or does he or she make stringent demands? Determine this from references and personal conversations. 15. Is he or she willing to make lastminute adjustments? 16. What is the speaker’s fee, and is that fee negotiable? If it is, determine what you have of value to give in return for a fee reduction. Possibilities might be a video tape master, a list of attendees, a testimonial letter, referrals, an extra night of accommodations, the choice of time slot or date, a multiple 17. 18. 19. 20. performance contract, extra publicity, spouse airfare and meals, products or services. Does the speaker offer any discounts on his or her fee (e.g., for certain geographical areas, resorts, time of year, non-profit organization or government)? Can the speaker fill more than one slot? This will save you money on hiring another speaker and paying additional travel costs What are the payment terms of the speaker’s contract? Typically, a 50 percent deposit is required to hold a speaker’s date. Can you arrange to preview the speaker at nearby functions? This will help you get a clear picture of the speaker’s delivery, manner, language and poise. After all these questions have been answered to your satisfaction, the decision to hire or not should be much easier. Don’t settle for someone who makes you uncomfortable—it’s worth the time to do thorough research. Nothing can enhance the meeting message better than the right speaker. I would welcome your comments on our SGMP social network page to share information on speaker tips and stories. G Charles Sadler, CGMP, CHSP, CHSC, is the executive director and CEO of the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP). Contact him at

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Government Connections - Spring 2010

Government Connections - Spring 2010
President’s Letter
Editor’s Letter
Go Figure
Going Places
Education Edge
That’s Technology
Travel Tips and Trends
Supplier Strategy
Plan Green
Good to Know
Dieting on a Per Diem
Event Security Tips
Unconference 101
Ethics are Elementary
In Memoriam
SGMP Nation
Membership News
Conference Connection
Advertisers’ Index
The Meeting Minute

Government Connections - Spring 2010