Where To Find Your Next Expert Speaker

After weeks of brainstorming and refining, you have the perfect topic for an event.  Now you need to find an expert who can provide information, lead discussion and guide your attendees through the intricacies and nuances of said topic.  Where will you find them?

  • Speakers Groups.  These businesses have listings of speakers who are available for hire.  The advantage of using a service is two-fold, one: you can easily search by cost and availability and two: you have a professional group used to handling details that you may not be familiar with. For example, the company Premiere Speaker provides a packet of candidates for you to look through based on your objectives, and also helps you find a replacement if an emergency, like illness or bad weather causes your scheduled speaker to cancel.
  • Associations.  These groups of like-minded professionals are another place to search for experts on specialized topics.  Call the association and see if there is a member with speaking experience.
  • University/Colleges.  During local and national elections our local news channel often interviews the head of the political science department at the state university located in our city.  I always enjoy these interviews because the professor is an expert and brings in examples of past political strategies and personalities –always a much more informed opinion that Joe Smith off the street.  Professors are generally experienced and comfortable with public speaking, but ask if they have other speaking experience and see if you can chat with someone that has seen them in action.
  • Amazon.com.  This may seem strange but I often find experts on a topic by searching for soon-to-be-released books on amazon.  I type in the subject I am looking for in “books” and then under the “sort by” drop down menu I choose “publication date”.  I look for books that will be released one to six months before my event date.  These authors are happy to speak on a topic relevant to their newly released book, and have been interacting with all their research fairly recently.

Once you find a few experts on your topic, ask if you can see a video clip from a recent speaking gig.  Or, at the very least, get some references and call them for an honest review.  Just because a person is an expert on a topic does not mean they will be a fantastic speaker.  You need a blend of expertise and speaking experience.

I hope this list was helpful- where do you find your best expert speakers?

Resource Table For Your Events

I was at an event recently that constantly pushed the resource table.  I understand this as you want to help sell some product for your speakers.  And your speakers like this as it helps with additional income.

You have to assume your attendees are smart enough to find their way to the resource table.  So how do you push the resource table without becoming annoying?

Mention it at the first break of the morning, but don’t bring it up again for a while.  During this break, the attendees will wonder by and take a look at these resources.  Some may purchase then, but some might wait until a later time to make a purchase.

Look for strategic ways to mention the resource table that work within your plan of the event.  For instance if lunch drives people away from the resource table, don’t mention it.  That might mean only breaks will work, and that’s ok.  Again, your attendees are smart enough to figure out were the resources are located.

Bundles are a great way to encourage purchasing.  The event I attended offered a bag with a mix of resources, along with bonuses, at a special rate.  All of the artists I manage are encouraged to bundle product on their resource tables.  People like to feel like they’re getting a deal, and bundles are a great way to accomplish that.

Price point is key with a bundle.  One of our artists sells the first CD for $15 and each additional for $5.  The consumer looks at that and thinks they’re getting the second CD for 75% off!  The cost to the artist is minimal because in affect, the consumer has purchased both CDs for $10.

I like to read my books digitally.  At this particular event, I perused the various books at the resource table, and then went back to download samples to my device.  I would have liked to have been offered books, book samples or digital bonuses in exchange for my email address.  This one is a little tricky, but doable.

How have you worked the resource table and found success?

Happy Labor Day!

Glorieta Prayer Garden

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.  For more on the history of Labor Day, click here.

Don’t Make These Group Apparel Mistakes

So you’ve decided to order matching shirts for your event team.  You want team members to be more visible and accessible to your clients.  Great idea!

group shirts

Before you order, here are a few tips from someone who has made her share of team apparel mistakes.

  1. Research that fabric choice.  Several years ago I ordered team shirts for a group of twenty.  I choose to pay a little more to have a higher quality golf type shirt, with a synthetic material that was super breathable.  Unfortunately, the fabric pulled easily and got little fabric pills on it within the first few wears.  They planned to wear these at least once a week for a year, and it was a big disappointment that the fabric showed wear so quickly.  Before you order, ask if you can see the fabric, have the name of someone who has ordered the same shirt, or even give a shirt a test run before ordering multiples.
  2. On lettering, consider distance.  Before choosing a type size think about how far your clients will be from your employees.  Do they need to be able to read lettering in a crowded convention hall from twelve feet away, or will they be just across a counter? Choose font sizes accordingly. Think about the typical black t shirts with white lettering spelling out “security” in giant lettering on the back, how helpful would that be if “security” was written in fourteen point script on their breast pocket?  Not very.
  3. Evaluate color and style pairings.  What pant or skirt styles and colors will your team be wearing with their shirt?  You wouldn’t want to order a light tan shirt and then ask your team to wear it with khakis.  Beige attack.  You also wouldn’t want your team wearing nice black dress slacks with a cotton shirt, as those styles don’t complement each other.

Group apparel is a great way to set your team apart and help them be found.  I appreciate it greatly when I am at events or stores and looking for someone to assist me.  There are hundreds of team apparel options, but once you consider the style, clothing culture, and client interaction unique to your team, you will significantly narrow the field.  Happy shopping!

4 Tips For Choosing A Speaker

Many events include speakers as part of the program. Speakers are great because they help reinforce a topic or the theme of your event.  If you’re planning a company retreat, a speaker can be a different voice from outside the company that will help reinforce the topic or theme.

Choosing the right speaker for your event is very important.

When choosing a speaker, here are 4 things to keep in mind:

  1. Topics.  Many speakers can talk on different topics.  They may have a book that is currently out that is their main topic, but there could be additional topics that the booking agent is aware of.  When booking a speaker, ask if there are additional topics the speaker can speak on.  This might allow you to add another session with that speaker.  You’re also looking for a topic that fits into the theme of your event.
  2. Scheduling.  Speakers can be booked 2 to 3 years out depending on their popularity.  If you have someone in mind, it’s best to get on their schedule as soon as possible.  Another issue with scheduling could be a vacation the speaker has planned or something similar to that.  The further out you book, the better you’ll be able to plan around the speaker.
  3. Fees.  Speakers fees are in all different price ranges.  Obviously the more popular the speaker, the higher their fees will be.  If you’ve read a great book and anticipate the author is about to be hot, go book them now for your event.  Even if your event is a year out, getting them early could mean you get them at a discounted price.  When that popularity strikes, the price goes up.
  4. Marketing.  Speakers can be a great marketing draw to your event.  I know when I see the speaker lineup of an event, it affects my interest in attending that event.  Use their name and picture in all marketing pieces.  And don’t forget to include them in your social media marketing as well

What things to do look for when choosing speakers for your event?

4 Ways To Celebrate At Your Event

I wrapped up a big deal for one of our management clients the other day.  What was the first thing we did?  Celebrated, of course.  It might be as little as a muffin from Panera or as big as a steak from Stoney River, but we celebrate everything at my company.

I find it to be rewarding and gratifying when something big comes together (especially if it’s a big project I’ve had a hand in), and we, as a company, take that opportunity to celebrate those victories.

Do you take the opportunity to celebrate achievements?

Celebrating these big accomplishments is a great addition to any upcoming retreat or event your company is doing.

How do you do celebrate?  Here are 4 ideas:

  1. Concert.  Bring in a band, solo artist or DJ to juice up the celebrating.  If you really want to have some fun, do some karaoke.  That’s one way of getting your employees to get out of their comfort zone.
  2. Nice dinner.  Let’s face it, we all like a nice dinner.  Especially if it’s something we wouldn’t personally splurge on like steak or lobster.  You get the general idea.
  3. Movie night.  Grab your favorite movie treat and settle in for a nice movie.  If you’re off on a retreat, do it later in the night, and have your attendees wear their PJs (nothing too crazy here.)
  4. Bowling.  At your next event, take a field trip to a local bowling alley and knock down some pins.  To really get people mingling, mix up departments.

Remember that whatever you do to celebrate, the key word is “fun”!  Your company (or team) is celebrating.  You can’t watch a movie like The Notebook.  It’s got to be something fun and exciting!!

Have you added a celebration night to your event?  What has worked for your company?

How To Take Charge Of Your Childcare Security

Will your upcoming event involve childcare?  Here are five areas you must address to keep children safe.

Hire trained/experienced staff: Childcare workers should have background checks and First Aid/CPR training. Keep copies of training certificates and background checks on file.  Need help finding childcare professionals?  See if you can find someone who already manages childcare workers for another company, and hire them do some freelance work.  They already have a trusted group of people to contact.  If you can’t find someone like this, reach out to local gyms, churches and daycare centers. They will have lists of childcare workers, and if they aren’t willing to share the names, you might be allowed to send out an email or put up a poster asking for workers.

Create a secure and safe location.  Are the room(s) where the children will be cared for safe for them?  A space appropriate for adults is not necessarily safe for children.  Power outlets must be covered, doors secured, furniture checked for stability, and small objects removed.  Unfortunately, we must now also make sure that childcare locations are also secure from outside intruders.  Do windows and doors lock?  Is there a manned desk or check-in station where visitors must pass before entering?

Capture names and allergy information on each child.  With any number of unfamiliar children in attendance, childcare workers need a way to identify and keep track of their charges.  At the very least, write each child’s name and known allergies on a stick-on name tag and secure it to their back.  (Children will peel, exchange, shred or even eat a name tag affixed to the front of their clothing.)

Identify emergency contact information.  Paging systems have mostly been replaced by caregiver cell phones.  When staff check a child in, be sure they ask for an emergency contact number.  Parents can leave their phone on vibrate and receive a call or text from you if necessary.

Establish a workable pick up protocol.  This is what most people think about when they wrestle with childcare security.  Every childcare professional has nightmares about releasing a child into the custody of the wrong person.  There are lots of options available to you for pick up security.  From simple tag systems, to high tech touch screen check in software, systems differ in situational usefulness.  Since you will most likely be providing care for a group of children for only a few days, any system that takes lots of set up time and training for parents is not a good option.  Do a little research and you will find a system that fits your needs well.

Staff, location, child profiles, emergency contact information and pick up protocol are key to ensuring that the children your attendees leave in your care will be safe.  In addition, your attendees will be able to focus more fully on your event when they are sure their children are not only well cared for, but protected.

The Goal Of A Hospitality Rider

There is a famous story of a big rock band who made an odd request in their rider.  They asked for the brown M&M’s to be separated out from the other M&M’s.  An odd request for sure, but they saw this as a way to test a promoter.  If they walked in the backstage area of the venue and the brown M&M’s were in fact separated, they knew the promoter had read and paid attention to the rider.

A typical rider has two sides to it: technical and hospitality.  We’ve spent some time discussing the tech part, but today I would like to look at the hospitality side.

When you get the rider from the artist, speaker or band you’re having at your event, the hospitality section could appear overwhelming or even that the artist is being a little big headed.

The goal of this section is to make the performer as comfortable as possible at your event.  In case you hadn’t heard, artists are wired a little bit different than the rest of us.  And you’ve asked them to bring their talents to your event.  For them to be effective, they prefer conditions to be a certain way.

As an artist manager, we encourage our artists to make their riders as simple as possible.  We understand the importance of ministry, and the last thing we want, is the rider to get in the way.

Along those lines if you have an issue or question on anything on the artist rider, don’t hesitate to bring that up to the booking agent you are working with or the artist’s manager.  I would imagine their attitude will be the same of not letting any issues be a stumbling block.

What is the strangest thing you’ve seen requested in a rider?  How did you handle with the artist?

Top 10 Posts – 3rd Quarter 2012

Fall is here and I for one can’t wait for the changing leaves and cooler temperatures.   This means the 3rd quarter is behind us and it’s time to share our 10 most read posts over the past 3 months. Hopefully this will help you find a great post you might have missed…

  1. What’s A Hollow Square – As in any industry, hotels and conference centers sometimes have a language all their own. Here’s a little help in translating…
  2. Ridgecrest Recipe:  Rutland Chicken – Have you been looking for something new to do with chicken?  Enjoy and then let us know what you think!
  3. 5 Things To Do AFTER Your Meeting Is Over – Everyone has gone home and you want to relax but here are a few things that still need to be done and will definitely help you in planning future meetings and/or retreats.
  4. 8 Ideas For Promoting Your Church Retreat –  If you don’t also spend time on strategically promoting your retreat, you may end up with a great retreat that no one attends. With that in mind, here are 8 ideas for helping to promote your upcoming church retreat.
  5. 3 Steps To More Productive Brainstorming – Brainstorming with your planning team is a great way to ensure you provide an event your attendees will find engaging and worthwhile.  Here are 3 steps to take that will go a long way to making your next session more productive.
  6. 3 Tips To Creating An Unforgettable Event – Here are 3 tips on how to turn your event into an unforgettable experience.
  7. Creating A Standout Womens Retreat – A podcast interview with Chris Adams and Betsy Langmade, 2 of LifeWay’s long-time women’s leaders sharing what they’ve learned about planning women’s events.
  8. 5 Tips For Programming Effective Youth Camps – Brian Mills serves as student pastor Long Hollow Baptist Church and is passionate about reaching young people for Christ. Here are his thoughts on how to program your youth camp for maximum spiritual impact.
  9. 7 Tips For Getting The Most From A Site Visit – Once you decide to make a site visit, here are 7 tips to help you maximize your time.
  10. Meeting Planner Survival Kit – Many planners need to be prepared to address last minute needs and emergencies. Here is a starter list of items you need to have in your meeting planner survival kit to be prepared at your next event.

Which post have you found most helpful?


Icebreakers Are Just For Kids, Right?

When I think of icebreakers, I think of entertainingly silly games for kids to become instant friends…or at least get to know each other a little bit. But what about adults? Sure, some adults (like me) would be totally content playing child-like games, but they wouldn’t match up with some events and groups of attendees. Here are a 3 non-embarrassing adult activities to use as icebreakers for a larger crowd of about 40 or more attendees.

  1. People bingo. This is a pretty popular icebreaker; I’m almost positive I’ve played this at some point in my life. The idea is for everyone to have a bingo card, and instead of written numbers in the middle of each box like regular bingo, the text would read, “Has three kids,” “Owns a beach house,” or, “Loves country music.” The text should be common enough that it describes a few people in the group, but not common enough that it describes most. Each person has to go around the room and find a person who matches up with the text, then have them initial the square. The catch is that one person can only sign one box, so everyone must talk to a bunch of people! You can even give the winner a small prize at the end, so they’re a little more enticed to really play the game.
  2. “Communality test.” This is another icebreaker that starts in small groups, but this is teeny groups of two. These two people need to find one not-so-obvious common trait. Then, go into groups of four and find a trait all four of them share. Then, eight. Continue that until the entire group has to find something they have in common. Since your group might be too large for that last step, you could go up to 16 or so, then switch up all the groups and start from the beginning. After this icebreaker, everyone will know a bunch of random facts about everyone else.

And here are a couple for a group of less than 40 attendees:

  1. Any “question of the day.” If you have a smaller group, posing a question that could have many possible answers is one way to know people better.  Some example questions are: What would you do with a million dollars? Who is your idol? What is your favorite quote? What is one thing you would you change about the world? If time allows, get a conversation going about some of the answers. Sharing this type of information (and having these discussions) will make it easier to connect during the rest of the event.
  2. Any sport. Depending on the age range (and athletic abilities) of your attendees, there are quite a few sports you could play, that easily make people trust each other and rely on each other. Some include kickball, beach ball, volleyball, and even tug of war. Is tug of war even considered a sport? I think it should be! Having to work together as a team will bring people together pretty quickly.

Have you ever tried these icebreakers, what do you do to help people connect at your events?