What would I know about what meeting planners want. After all I have only been speaking for a couple of years. I had the privilege of attending the National Speakers Association Annual Conference this year in Times Square, New York City and they had a great working on “What meeting planners are looking for in professional speakers.” It was a big hit. It was like watching American Idol for professional speaking. Some were great, some were good, and some were not so good. As I sat in the front row I studied what meeting planners enjoyed and what they did not care for. Lessons learned quickly as I saw myself in the shoes of each on the stage at the time. Here is my opportunity to share what to do and what not to do:
Be too academic. Nobody likes a know it all.
Be too serious. Serious people are not fun to work with.
Appeal to everyone. People like targeted messages to specific groups.
Be monotone. A snoozer in the making.
Offend audience members. Other people will be offended even if you make fun of someone you know in the audience.
Message too universal. People like targeted messages to specific groups. I said that already… It’s important!
Talk at the audience. People want to feel welcome and know that you care. Just rambling is not communication.
Rehearsed performance. If it looks rehearsed people will not see you as a person but a machine.
Focus on self. Do I really need to explain this one?
Be a nameless speaker. What do want to be known for? Make sure everyone is aware.
Take all of the time needed. It is OK to be short as long as the message is clear and people understand what it is you do and how it can help them.
Clarify message. Make sure people understand what is that you are really try to say. Look for both verbal and non verbal clues. The non verbal have more meaning.
Add Humor. People like people that are funny. If you can’t have fun at what you are doing look for something else. This is extremely important.
Qualified. Years experience, designations, certifications, awards, publications, books and past clients are among the criteria meeting planners look at on paper.
Dress the Part. What ever the best dressed audience member is wearing, step it up a notch. Match your dress by audience, message, or location. People will feel more comfortable and be more attentive.
Enthusiasm. If you are excited, they will be excited. The words are irrelevant.
Passion. You either have it or you don’t. If you are not passionate about your subject find something else, NOW!
Connect with the audience. The only way people will listen is if they experience the same challenges as you, at the same point in life, or have similar stories. Share yourself first and the audience will share their attention.
Give service. If someone asks for something give them more than what they asked for. Ask them to email you to answer future questions. They rarely do but the gesture is appreciated.
Differentiate your brand. Fine tune your style, presentation, marketing, and communication that is unique from everyone else. Strive for uniqueness not different.
Be authentic in the message. You must speak from the heart, truth, and from your own personal experiences. EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!
Create a tagline that sells. This is your message. In six words or less what do you do and how will it help others.