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Speakers Bureaus Provide Access to Keynote Speakers, Emcees, Entertainers

Diane Goodman Shares Perspectives on Hiring a Professional Speaker, Part 2


Speakers Bureaus Provide Access to Keynote Speakers, Emcees, Entertainers

Diane Goodman

The Goodman Speakers Bureau, Inc.

Selecting a keynote speaker, emcee or entertainer for a corporate or organizational event requires careful planning and an understanding of meeting objectives. That’s why event planners rely on the expertise of a speakers bureau.

In Part 1, I spoke with Diane Goodman, president of The Goodman Speakers Bureau, Inc., Windsor, CT, about the basic steps of selecting and hiring a professional speaker.

Diane has been helping organizations secure speakers since 1979. She is a recognized leader in this industry, and works with national and international corporate and association meetings and conventions, among others.

Diane continued her conversation with me to share some of her perspectives and experiences about hiring a professional speaker:

You recommend that event planners should first work with their internal executives to identify clear meeting objectives and timelines, and to plan as early as possible to get the best speakers – especially keynote speakers. Can you share your thoughts on why this is important?

Like everyone, we want to be sure our time is used in the most meaningful ways. We don’t want to go down the wrong path with a client or speaker – and then not be able to get on the schedule of the speaker the client ultimate selects.

To avoid this scenario, we strongly recommend planners get their executives on the same page early on in the speaker selection process. This can be easily accomplished by spending 15 or 20 minutes with decision makers at the start of the selection process, to be followed up in writing to confirm the direction you are taking.

This will ultimately increase the planners’ value to the executive team by presenting speakers that tie into the goals and objectives of the meeting, as well as the overall strategic mission and vision of the organization. Written updates along the way may help as well, depending on the culture and style of your company.

Can you identify three or five of the most common types of speakers requested and why?

Motivational. No matter if it is good times or bad, people always need a little motivation in their work and life. Meetings that are high content, educational or training-oriented need some levity. That is when the humorous motivational speaker or edutainment type speaker is used and always well received…laughter makes people feel good and also is a great ice breaker.

Team Building. As companies reorganize, merge, acquire or are acquired, they need to rebuild or strengthen internal relationships. Interactive teambuilding programs help accomplish these goals.

Adventurer. Their stories of courage and determination are among the most inspiring. Audiences are on the edge of their seats listening to these incredible people.

Leadership/Management. What characteristics make a great leader? What are the latest trends in management development? How can companies recognize and reward employees to increase employee retention? How can companies be more innovative to stay competitive? These are just a few things that executives want to hear about.

Generational. While this is not a new topic, it is increasing in popularity as more generations enter the workforce. It affects every type of group from sales and marketing to management and HR.

Are motivational speakers popular right now? Who are some of the more popular motivational speakers right now?

Motivational speakers are universally popular. What changes from time to time, I believe, is the style of motivation that groups look to hire. Once there was a focus on pure motivation -- the rah, rah! you can do it! -- which is rather old school right now. Currently most groups want motivation with a message.

Some popular motivational speakers include:

  • Steve Rizzo, known as the “Attitude Adjuster,” speaks on “Becoming A Humor Being.”

  • John Cassis, uses his personal life stories and experiences to deliver his motivational and heartwarming message.

  • Keith Harrell, believes “Attitude is Everything” and speaks on performance, attitude and stimulating change.

What about hiring entertainers to serve as emcees - which types of organizations are doing that and for what types of meetings?

It’s really about the type of meeting that the company is trying to create, rather than the type of company that is holding the meeting. Usually, the groups that use MCs are looking to present a very unified meeting with excellent flow and continuity – sometimes with an eye towards extensive themeing. Often, heavy content oriented meetings will use entertainers as MCs to lighten up the atmosphere and make an otherwise daunting meeting rather enjoyable. We see a variety of different types of meetings using entertainers as MCs.

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