Mary Foley | Engineering & Energizing Women's Careers, Communities & Events
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What to Watch for When Hiring Speakers

Speakers: The good ones you love, the not so good ones drive you crazy! 


All you are trying to do is get speakers for your event who will present on topics that attract, share useful content, are energetic and motivating, and appeal to your audience demographic.


Sounds more than reasonable.  The problem is that even a speaker who looks good online or on paper might end up being boring, present on a different topic than agreed, or be a prima donna!  Ugh.




As someone who has been on both sides of the speaker equation, I know what you're up against. 


When I hired speakers while heading up Corporate Training for AOL, I was amazed at the range of ways speakers interacted with me and how they performed.  These observations and lessons were not lost on me when I became a speaker myself.  In fact, one of my personal measures of success is how easy I make the experience for the meeting planner.


Planning an event is hard enough without speaker challenges.  Here are 3 things to watch for when considering speakers:


#1 – Does the speaker have video clips?  Other than seeing the speaker perform prior to your event, watching a video clip of a past presentation is next best thing.  If they don't have any video for you to review, that may mean they aren't that good or they aren't a serious speaking professional.  Even if they are, don't you want to be sure they are good before hiring them?  I would.


#2 – Does the speaker respond quickly?  This isn't just about being client focused, this is also an indication of their organization and efficiency.  A quick, friendly response to your inquiry is a good start to a smooth, ongoing interaction with you and your committee. Watch for that to continue.  If this starts to change before you have booked the speaker, you might want to reconsider.


#3 – Does the speaker ask lots of questions to understand your event?  A good speaker will make sure they are a match for your event and can fulfill your expectations. In addition to the easy questions like who, what, where, and when, good speakers will ask why you're holding the event and what's your definition of a successful speaker. 


They will want to know what topics would be perfect to achieve your goals and why they believe you're a fit. Plus, they will delve deeper into understanding participants’ demographics and what organizational dynamics may be affecting them.  Only after asking these kinds of questions will a good speaker talk about budget and fees.


One more tip:

If you are pleased with the speaker so far, seek out feedback from others. Use the internet to identify where they have spoken and reach out to the organization who hired them.  Or, use your personal or social network to ask for intel.  A little research can go a long way!



Power Up optin

 Want more ideas about how to make your professional women's event rock?

Grab a copy of my FREE report POWER UP! 3 Critical Trends and 10 Essential Strategies to Energize your Professional Women's Event.

Or let's brainstorm for 15 minutes - call me, send me a quick email, or go here to schedule a quick convo

Keep Your Red Cape Flying with 7 Secrets to Work-Life Sanity

Hey busy Wonder Woman!  Your life is crazy, isn't it?  Try these 7 secrets to work-life sanity.  Just one could help your red cape return!

Secret #1 is Know What You Want

Be clear about who and what's important to you.  Then make choices to support your decision.  If you don't know what I want, there will always be someone who will try to determine it for you

Secret #2 is Say "No" Without Apology

When you're saying "no" to what you don't want you're saying "yes" to what you do want.  Saying no doesn't mean you're being mean or hurting someone else.  It means you're taking care of yourself and, often, those you most care about.  That's something we should never apologize for!

Secret #3 is Focus on What's Going Right

Focusing your attention on those things that are working and helping you feel good about yourself gives you the necessary self-esteem and staying power for dealing with difficult situations and creating sanity

Secret #4 is Stay Away From Whiners

Life is too short and requires too much of us to be spending lots of time with people or in situations that don't cheer us on to the best we can be and go for our dreams.

Secret #5 is Get Someone Else to Do It

You really don't have to do it all!  Get someone to do the things in your life that really can be done by someone else.

Secret #6 is Take Care of You and You and You

Take care of all of you - the physical you, the emotional you, the mental you, the social you, and the spiritual you.  Taking care of yourself gives you staying power.  You're not only worth it; you are the only you you've got.

Secret #7 is Be Serious About Not Being So Serious

Don't miss the fun along the way. Be playful!  Laugh as much as possible and find the humor that's begging to be discovered.  The demands of your fast, full life temporarily melt away.

3 Critical Trends Impacting Professional Women's Events


If you are involved in planning a professional women's event, you are asked to do magic - create energizing events that further organizational goals, attract Millennials to Boomers, and meet budget/revenue demands.



I've heard meeting planners say...


"Creating engaging, interesting content for our event – that's the real load!"


"We're trying to engage young people differently."


"Where can we find quality, motivating speakers with real substance?"


"Too often in panels there's one person who has diarrhea of the mouth."


"Post-event engagement. That's where I'm a loser. Once the event is over, we're exhausted."


"Meeting planners like me are desperate for ideas."




These are tough challenges but they can be met when you focus on creating an event where women say “Wow, this is amazing! I feel so energized and can’t wait for the next one.”  To help you create a “Wow!” 2015 event, here are 3 critical trends you need to know that are impacting your professional women's events:


Trend #1:  Big “Why”


We all know that attending or hosting live events increasingly cost time and money. So, it had better be worth it! 


For participants, the top 2 reasons people continue to attend live professional events are 1) to learn new things and 2) to meet new people. That's why the following “what” and “how” trends below are so critical.


For organizations, that means the event must help meet an organizational goal or purpose. Maybe the event's reason for being is to accelerate the professional development and advancement of women in your organization, industry or region. Maybe it's part of fulfilling a membership organization's revenue goals. Or, maybe the event is a non-profit fundraiser.


Take-away:  Be crystal clear on the truly significant reason(s) to host your event and why participants would attend



Trend #2:  Compelling “What”


Since information on any topic can immediately be found online, today's live events must include timely, relevant, hot topics that strike an emotional chord. Anything less isn't worth the time. Plus, sessions around these topics are no longer about the transfer of information. They must be about truly understanding the topic, what it means to me, and how can I apply it right away.


Take-away:  Offer topics participants really care about.


Trend #3:  Powerful “How”


Live events are like social media on steroids. Now more than ever, interaction = value. Interaction accelerates learning and relationships.


That's why when it comes to event topics and content, the standard “sit and listen” keynote and breakout session presentations are almost as dead as MySpace. Today, events must have sessions such as interactive keynotes and panels, table talks, celebrity chats, and more.  And, that's why more and more participants want networking sessions with structured interaction to increase their one on one connections.


Take-away:  Include a ton of interaction throughout your event


Power Up optin

 Want more ideas about how to make your professional women's event rock?

Grab a copy of my FREE report POWER UP! 3 Critical Trends and 10 Essential Strategies to Energize your Professional Women's Event.

Or let's brainstorm for 15 minutes - call me, send me a quick email, or go here to schedule a quick convo

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