Corporate Event Planning: Working with Speakers and Facilitators

Speaking EngagementWith experience in keynote speaking, event planning and facilitating team building and training, I have an opportunity to "sit on both sides of the desk." I thought that there might be some value in exchanging tips for working with keynote speakers as well as team building and training and development facilitators.

  1. Form a consulting partnership with speakers and facilitators, rather than approaching the relationship as "order taking."
    We have previously discussed "consulting vs order taking" as it relates to event planners. Experienced speakers and facilitators also bring a lot of expertise to the table that can help you improve your event.
  2. Seek input from speakers and facilitators to create the right environment to support their content.
    Since they have worked with a variety of clients at large and small events, definitely draw on the experience of speakers and facilitators when shaping agendas, searching for venue options, streamlining logistics and even identifying cost-savings strategies.
  3. Make content the priority.
    FranklinCovey's "put the rocks in first" principle doesn't just apply to time management. It also makes sense for business meeting and conference agendas and budgets. It is surprising how often there is pressure on speakers to cut their fees or drastically compress delivery time because an expensive venue has been selected and agenda is packed before speakers have been selected.
  4. Obtain quotes about all key meeting and event components before making decisions.
    With quotes for event venues, catering, accommodation and speakers or facilitators in hand, it will be easier to set realistic event budgets.
  5. Clarify objectives before requesting quotes from facilitators and speakers.
    This may sound like common sense, but I assure you that 95% of the time when speakers ask corporate event planners about objectives, the response is "I'm not sure." Experienced speakers can help event planners develop a brief questionnaire for use with decision makers to clarify objectives.
  6. Obtain the input of facilitators and keynote speakers when setting the length of a session.
    Allocating a timeframe that is too short is one of the main reasons that keynotes and team building sessions fail. It makes sense to get advice from the professionals who designed the content when determining realistic timeframes.
  7. Get the speaker or facilitator's input when selecting the venue and making decisions about room setup.
    The environment and room setup can have a major impact on the success of corporate events, conferences and business meetings.
  8. Don't delegate the task of determining audio-visual and logistical requirements to the most inexperienced members of your team.
    Inexperienced team members may have difficulty understanding the importance of room setup, why some logistical arrangements are critical and the key role of attendee engagement strategies. No experienced speaker or facilitator should have to contend with the stressful interactions that arise.
  9. For the same reason, don't delegate important event decisions to a committee of inexperienced team members.
    Fact finding and research can be valuable experiences for emerging event planners but decisions about event venues, the shape of the agenda, speaker/facilitator selection should rest with members of the team that have a grasp of the strategic significance of decisions.
  10. Meals and accommodation for speakers, facilitators and event staff shouldn't be an after thought.
    Some clients opt for a $50 a person lunch at an upscale venue and then balk when they are advised that speakers and event staff need to be fed. (Consult Event Planning Tips: Meals for the Event Staff for affordable options.)

What tips would you add to this list?

Photo Credits: Executive Oasis International

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