Category Archives: meeting planning

Event Speakers: 7 Great Ways to Choose the Right Ones

Choosing the right event speakers is critical for your event success

Choosing the right event speakers is critical for your event successWhether you are a newbie or experienced event professional, the day comes when you are put in charge of choosing the speakers for your event.  Selecting the right event speaker or speakers can be the difference between great or not so great attendee experiences.  It also can be the difference between receiving “high fives” or “thumbs down” feedback from them, your colleagues, and boss.  Uh-oh…

I know the feeling as I have had my share of out-of-the-park home runs with event speakers as well as the where-can-I- hide-from-the-angry-mob disasters.  Needless to say, I want, and you want, the home runs.

When planning a conference or event, one of the key elements to its overall success is having the right event speakers.  This include sessions, guest, and keynote speakers.  They help set the tone of the event and make it memorable for your audience.  They also can be great advocates of your company or organization’s mission or vision and help you deliver that message to your audience.

So what makes a good speaker and how do you select the right one – or ones – for your event.  Your event speakers will command the most attention so give this task the careful deliberation it deserves. Here are 7 questions for you to consider when selecting your event speakers.

What Makes the Good Event Speaker?

Approach event speaker selection as a positive opportunity rather than yet another dreary task to tick off your to-do list.  Selecting a good speaker can bring your entire event into sharper focus and engage your audience.

So in general, what makes a good event speaker?  A good event speaker needs to be capable of entertaining an audience, engaging them and inspiring them to take action when they leave the room.  The right event speaker for you, however, also depends on your specific vision for the event and what you want to achieve.

First, what makes a good event speaker?  A good event speaker needs to be able to do at least some of the following:

  • Attract attendees
  • Engage an audience
  • Reinforce key event themes
  • Entertain an audience
  • Educate an audience
  • Inspire audiences
  • Provide fresh insight and perspective on event-related topics

With these general criteria for a good event speaker in mind, you can move on to other important considerations for choosing the right speaker that are specific to your event.

Questions for Choosing the Right Event Speakers

What is the Purpose of Your Event?

Sometimes as event professionals we are in a rush to produce an event and don’t think deeply enough about questions around “what” and “why” an event is being planned.  This can create real problems when trying to get the right event speakers.  Ask yourself “Why are these attendees coming together?  What are our objectives?  What do we want these people to take away from the event?”

Get clear about your event’s themes and objectives to help you narrow down your event speaker search.  By the time you have reached the point of searching for your event speakers, you should already have a clear idea of the main themes of your event, the topics and the overall goals of the event for your company or organization.  The speakers you select should align closely with all of these.

What is the Purpose of Your Event Speakers?

Consider the purpose of your speakers and what you expect them to bring to your event.  Are they expected to motivate and educate your attendees or simply to entertain?  Identifying the reason you’re seeking each speaker will be a powerful tool in identifying who is the right fit for your event and who you should skip.

Evaluate and select them based on their experience speaking at similar events if you are choosing them to motivate or educate attendees.  If they are there to entertain, be sure that their performance style is suitable for your business or event.

What is Your Audience Demographic?

When choosing your event speakers, be sure to match them to your audience.  Will you audience be filled with engineers and technicians, business executives and sales types, or will they be mostly creatives and artsy types?  The secret to choosing the right event speakers is to ensure they match your audience general demographic and are relevant.

There’s no point in picking your favorite thought leader, comedian, author or life coach to deliver your event speeches if they aren’t likely to appeal to the attendees.  Ask yourself why are your attendees coming?  What are they looking for?  Are they interested in something light-hearted and amusing or do they want serious advice and clear calls to action?

Know your audience and understand what they – and you – expect from your event speakers.  Finding the right event speaker for your audience is essential so do your research into their needs and expectations.

What Level of Knowledge Do You Want?

You have to decide how important it is that your event speakers have industry knowledge.  If you want an expert in a field that is relevant to your event, its key themes and your audience, then this will narrow the field a lot.

An industry or business thought leader adds value by being highly relevant to attendees.  They are able to provide insight into state of the industry or business, emerging trends.  They can share and exchange data and information and offer calls to action that have a positive impact on attendees.  Choosing these kinds of speakers are important for educational sessions where attendees are at the event to learn.

Another alternative is to opt for event speakers that have limited or no industry or knowledge of your business field but will fulfill another purpose.  This could be a motivational speaker, celebrity, or author who has the ability to engage and inspire you audience.

Regardless of the type of event speakers you decide on, you are looking for their ability to connect with the audience.

How Diverse are Your Event Speakers?

When discussing diversity here, it means diverse opinions, different angles, more meaningful debate and an overall progression of ideas.  By choosing event speakers from different backgrounds you can create a more engaging and enriching experience for the audience.

There also is no excuse for a lack of diversity when it comes to speaker line-ups at events.  You should make an effort in choosing event speakers to look beyond all-male and all-white line-ups.  Chances are your audience is pretty diverse.

What is Your Budget?

When planning an event, speaker decisions often come down to staying on budget.  This means knowing exactly what your budget is for your event speakers.  It would be nice to pick the best and brightest keynote, session speakers or guest event speakers from around the world, but as we all know, event budgets don’t often stretch this far.

And yes, you do need a budget for event speakers.  The days of freebies and speakers talking in exchange for exposure are over, especially if you want professional speakers.  It takes time, efforts and experience to deliver a good presentation and these needs to be paid for.

The best event speakers will want to learn more about their future audience, what challenges they may be facing and will change their presentation to address those issues.  This means extra time adjusting and further tailoring their message and story.  Extra time means extra money so keep this preparation work in mind when creating your speaker budget.

If you know how much you can afford then this will narrow down the list of potential event speakers.  When you enter into discussions, it’s important to be clear on exactly what you are paying for and when it will be paid.  Some event speakers will expect travel and accommodations to be provided on top of their fee.

Knowing all expenses in advance will help avoid any confusion down the line and ensure that you are only choosing event speakers whose cost is within your budget.

Final Thoughts on Choosing the Right Event Speaker

When we were growing up in school, we were seated in a room – classroom style – with a speaker – the teacher or professor – talking at us from the front.  We were expected to listen passively and only ask questions when given permission.  Wow!  Not fun and, if my experience is any example, very boring and uninspiring most of the time.

Whereas this style of speaker presentations is still very dominant in workshops and conferences, and sometimes very necessary for presenting the event topics, as adults and event attendees we expect and want more from event speakers.  This requirement is even demanded more by attendees who are paying money, sometimes big bucks, to hear a speaker.

Now, attendees want more participation and more interaction with event speakers.  They require different stimuli from speeches and presentations and sitting in a chair passively listening is not acceptable anymore.  Participation and interaction between them and event speakers, and among them and other attendees is now essential for a positive attendee experience with event speakers.

Remember this when choosing event speakers.  Make sure they are willing and able to comfortably and professionally interact with the audience.  This includes sticking around later and answering questions and not rushing off to another engagement, meeting or lunch.  It should be part of their obligation as much as it is part of your obligation to provide a positive attendee experience.

Conclusion on Choosing the Right Event Speaker

Finding the right speaker is not necessarily difficult but it does take time and a fair amount of consideration and early planning.    Choosing right can easily elevate your next event from the merely satisfactory to the huge success for which you had planned.

Now Choosing the Right Online Event Registration Software:  rsvpBOOK

Using event technology to make your event planning and management easier and run more smoothly is really a no-brainer.  But like finding the right event speaker, finding the right event technology to help you is another story.  At rsvpBOOK we believe we are the right online event registration and management software for your events.  We make the complex easier.

We can provide you smart, simple online event registration and event management software to save time, save money and allow you to work more efficiently to get things done right and on time in this era of increasing high expectations and event stress.  And, the versatility of rsvpBOOK event management software meets your needs no matter the event type or size, from professional training meetings and workshops to large conferences.

Our powerful software brings together all the online registration and event management, marketing, email automation, social media tools, onsite check-in, evaluation and attendee feedback reports, database integration, online payment processing tools you need into a single place. We help you streamline your event processes from beginning to end.  And if you need us?  We’re here for you via phone, email, or online chat.

rsvpBook has you covered so your event can manage itself and you can focus on getting the right event speakers.   Smart. Simple.  Efficiently.

 

Try us at www.rsvpBOOK.com.  We make the complex easier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Steps to Reducing Event Stress

7 Steps to Reduce Event Stress

Reducing stress is important for event professionals

Just breeeeathe….If only it was so easy to do when you’re in the middle of the event planning crunch. Event stress is like the proverbial monkey on an event professional’s  back –  hard to shake it off but so necessary to get things done for your event or meeting.  By now you have heard that event planners have one of the top 10 most stressful jobs (landing at #5) according to CareerCast.com  study “The Most Stressful Jobs of 2017” (http://bit.ly/2oFXvED ).

If you are an experienced event professional, as I have been, this is not surprising – you have experienced – or are experiencing event stress first hand.  Getting a grip on and reducing event stress as best you can is critical not only for hosting a successful event or meeting; it is essential for keeping you cool, collected and stress free (ultimate goal!) throughout your event planning and management process.

Doing an event takes a lot of careful planning, coordination, and management of time and resources – money and people in particular. But in talking with other event professionals, there are some tricks to manage event stress and even ways to reduce or avoid it completely.  Let’s check out 7 steps to reducing event stress that go beyond taking those deep breaths.

  • Making Time and Being Prepared
  • Making Back up Plans
  • Learning to Love Your Checklists
  • Working with a Strategy in Mind
  • Working Collaboratively with Your Team and Delegating
  • Taking Care of Yourself
  • Using Event Technology to Help You Plan and Manage

Make Time and Be Prepared to Reduce Event Stress

Stress often comes from not being ready for something and event stress is no different.  It creates feelings of panic, loss of control and being overwhelmed.  To prevent event stress, think of the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared.”  When you are prepared and something unexpected occurs, the situation is handled more effectively because you are prepared for the possibility of an unexpected event.

How do you prepare?  Start planning early.  Sounds like good common sense but it’s surprising how some event professionals will see a long lead (a rarity in itself) time as an opportunity to put things on the back burner.  Even if your event target date seems far away, do not delay and wait until it is closer to that time.  Time has a way of passing quickly and life gets busy so plan as soon as possible.

If your time has passed too fast or work life took a turn to chaotic and busy, consider pushing your target date back an extra week or two to give yourself more time to prepare.  Devoting extra time at the early planning stage helps you review all the event’s necessary parts in ways you might not do if you are more pressed for time.  It also reduces event stress.  Remember this is the time to think about your event as a whole writing down ideas for venue, theme, program, speakers, menu, entertainment, and invitation style.  Think big picture and start your planning!

Back up Plans Reduce Event Stress

And part of “being prepared” is having a backup plan.  Things can, and often do, go wrong or at least not as you envisioned.  Speakers can drop out, people change their minds, venues don’t work out, and marketing strategies aren’t delivering.   Always ensure you have a backup option for everything and not relying on just one.  Talk about event stress when your first option falls through. It’s best to prepare yourself for the worst possible outcomes and this will reduce your event stress as you’ll know you can overcome everything with ease.

Having backup plans and preparation also applies to the actual event.  No matter what you do, there will always be unexpected things that happen, no matter how planned or organized you are.  You just have to work under pressure and that’s why having you and your team ready and able to deal with the unexpected on site is important.

Although having a backup plan will help avoid major fallbacks and reduce a lot of event stress, it’s not always possible to have a backup plan for everything, especially on site.  An experienced event professional – you – will keep calm and carry on, infusing a sense of tranquility to those around you.  At times as an event professional, you need to accept and embrace failures when they occur.  You need to understand the impact of a failure and what to do to avoid it in the future.

Learning to Love Your Checklists Reduces Event Stress

There are a lot of different components that make up an event – are you planning on keeping track of all of them in your head?  Not a good idea, especially if you want to keep your event stress low.  You could cause a decision making bottleneck because your team and vendors are looking at you for decisions. Juggling all the different parts can be challenging.  Visualizing all of them on a checklist (and not numerous Post-Its around your office or car) can be incredibly helpful.

Think of all the tasks you need to do before, during, and after the event and create an event checklist to keep you organized, on schedule and to make sure you haven’t missed anything.  Write down everything that needs to be done for your event and when it needs to be done and by whom.  This may include setting a budget, sending out invitations, selecting speakers, ordering food and beverage, and hiring vendors.

Don’t be too vague about describing the tasks you need to do.  Breaking down your event into small individual tasks is one of the most effective practices in reducing event stress.  Seeing the smaller steps helps you remember all the parts better and not worry you are going to miss doing something.  Also, there is something very therapeutic to crossing tasks off the list as they get completed.  Humor yourself even if the list is very long.

Looking for help to make that checklist?  Sometimes emptying your head of what needs to be done is not as easy you think.  If so, try a couple of online tools such as Evernote, a powerful cross-platform tool that helps you “dump” what is inside your brain.  Another option is Basecamp, a web-based project management tool as well Asana a web and mobile application designed to help teams track their work.

Reduce Event Stress by Working through Tasks with a Strategy

A lot of people cringe at the word “strategy.”  Sounds hard to do and above my pay grade.  It’s not and it shouldn’t be.  It’s part of organizing your planning, forcing you to stop and think things through clearly before you take action.  If you think about it, doing events without an approach or strategy results in poor performance and only makes additional event stress for you.  So slow down a minute and think before acting.

One way to lay things out strategically is by creating an action plan with realistic timelines and goals.  This step really should be done before developing your event task checklist.  Without setting up your action plan and event goals and timeline, it’s difficult to breakdown specific tasks necessary to move your action forward and achieve your event goals.  Having the plan, timeline and your event checklist helps you stay focused and see the purpose of your event for your company or organization.  Add this as another event stress buster!

Foster Team Collaboration to Reduce Event Stress

Unless you are some Super Event Professional wearing a red cape with nerves of steel and moving faster than a speeding bullet (well I think we all do the latter a lot), you are usually working with a team of people to do an event.  Working in a team and delegating tasks does help reduce event stress because it shares the event planning and management load.  However, working collaboratively as a team without some sort of conflict can create a double-edged sword for you.   You want the help but not the drama of conflict in a team.  Articles on building team collaboration are numerous but one of particular interest is the 2007 Harvard Business Review study called Eight Ways to Build Collaborative Teams.  And, as with most everything these days, there’s an app for that…see the Scoro blog 40 Top Team Collaboration Tools You Need Right Now.

Once your event checklist is complete, delegate event tasks to relevant persons on your team.  Stop believing you’re the only one who can do the job right and need to do everything or your event stress will skyrocket.  Sacrifice some time in the beginning to save time in the long run by teaching team members that you trust how to do the things you need done.  Then embrace their autonomy to get the job done without you micromanaging their efforts.

Reduce Event Stress by Taking Care of Yourself

After a while, organizing an event can send you a bit stir-crazy and blunt your sense of reality so it is smart to take regular breaks and switch off.  As a hard-charging event professional, you may ignore the signs and move forward but you do at risking your health and well-being.  Stop!  Breathe!  Unplug!  Even if you do this for a small amount of time, it refreshes and recharges you physically and mentally.  You may have ways that help you switch off during stressful times so use them now.  Going for a run or walk, exercise (my personal event stress buster), yoga, meditation, listening to music (yay!), seeing friends are just some suggestions for de-stressing.  Whatever works to help you unwind and relax.

Some things you also need to avoid in order to decrease your event stress level.  These include avoiding stimulants such as coffee (bye, bye Starbucks runs!) and alcohol.   It’s only temporary so you will survive.

Probably the most important things to help you de-stress, and people take for granted or ignore, is getting enough sleep and eating healthy.  Both activities seem to go out the window quickly for event planners, especially at the peak of event planning.  Sleeping and eating healthy aren’t just for well-being and beauty, but are important to helping you stay energized, ready to work productively, and reduce event stress.

The better you take care of yourself, the fewer tendencies you will have to over react to everything.  Event professionals tend to be prone to offering hospitality to others and ignore their own needs.  Don’t fall into that trap.  Here’s where just breathing is important.

Using Event Technology Helps Reduce Event Stress

Use event technology where it provides usefulness and cuts down on tedious work.  In this day and age of tight budgets, fast-paced planning, and short timelines, this is critical to keep your event stress under control.  You know it’s true.  We discussed earlier the online technology for helping you create your event checklists – what else should be on your event technology list?  Other obvious technologies include using safe and reliable online event registration and management software and get rid of the old fashion way of registering by fax or phone which is slow and stressful.  Event registration and management software is a case of using technology wisely, saving time, and reducing event stress.  Think about automating emails and social media posts, a feature which should be part of event management software.

Another example is to use social media accounts like Twitter for getting the word out and marketing your event  – before, during, after -as well as creating a community for your event attendees.  Sound like just one more task to do?  Maybe, but it is amazing in how it can help reduce your stress of “how can I reach more people?”  It’s also a wonderful way to engage your attendees and create a fun event.

Our Conclusions on Event Stress

As event professionals, we all experience some level of stress as we plan and manage our work life.  We need to deliver great attendee experiences, make our bosses or clients happy but also need to preserve ourselves and stay physically and mentally healthy.  Our stress deeply affects the way we perform.  Our team, our colleagues, our attendees notice it.  Using some, maybe all of these steps discussed can help keep your event stress in check, keep you healthy, and hopefully sane.  Try them and happy event planning!

Online Event Registration Software:  rsvpBOOK Reduces Your Event Stress

Using event technology to make your event planning and management easier and run more smoothly is really a no-brainer.  Finding the right event technology to help you is another story.  At rsvpBOOK we believe we are the right online event registration and management software to reduce your event stress.  We believe we make the complex easier.

We can provide you smart, simple online event registration and event management software to save time, save money and allow you to work more efficiently to get things done right and on time in this era of increasing high expectations and event stress.  And, the versatility of rsvpBOOK event management software meets your needs no matter the event type or size, from professional training meetings and workshops to large conferences.

Our powerful software brings together all the online registration and event management, marketing, email automation, social media tools, onsite check-in, evaluation and attendee feedback reports, database integration, online payment processing tools you need into a single place. We help you streamline your event processes from beginning to end.  And if you need us?  We’re here for you via phone, email, or online chat.

 

rsvpBook has you covered so your event can manage itself and you have less event stress.   Smart. Simple.  Efficiently.

 

Try us at www.rsvpBOOK.com.  We make the complex, easier.