Everything in your event has been a roaring success so far and everyone has been raving about the food, the music and the décor. Now it is time for the cherry on the cake – your invited guest speaker. Here are five elements for a successful speaker invitation.
A quick Google search will reveal a litany of mishaps with regards to the invitation of an inappropriate speaker. Obviously you don’t want this to happen so you simply must consider a few factors before deciding whom you want to speak at your event.
Do a lot of research to determine if that person is suitable for your brand. Is his/her history a good match with what your messaging is? Is his/her philosophy, beliefs or politics going to be something that contributes positively to what you are trying to present to your audience? Don’t be stingy with the amount of background research you do. In this age of social media, the ghost of a stray tweet from years ago may, fairly or unfairly, come back to haunt everyone. Save yourself the trouble of having to explain or do Public Relations recoveries and go with someone who is going to be an effective endorsement of your product.
That dovetails rather nicely with this second point. It is natural for people and, by extension, organizations to try and avoid as much embarrassment as possible. That is a safe and conservative approach to event planning. But consider being adventurous. A bit of self-deprecation can go a long way into presenting a softer and more fun side to your company’s image. Allow for the possibility of a roast – whereby the speaker intentionally pokes fun about aspects of your company. This can go a long way as a PR coup as well as giving your audience that you know how to laugh at yourself and thereby are open and humble. Hey, if it works for American Presidents, it can work for you too.
Roasts are generally good. / Source
Think Out of the Box
Therefore, think out of the box. Too often the very simplistic association is made that a serious event must be devoid of humor or that light-hearted events must involve “upbeat” elements. This way of thinking extends to the choice of speaker. In reality, though, mixing it up can have an incredible effect on your audience. For instance, comedians are some of the smartest people alive – what with their sharp observation skills and wit. Personalities like Stephen Colbert and Tim Minchinhave all in recent years had their speeches go viral. A more unconventional choice for your speaker can go a long way to attracting good publicity for your brand and for your event.
Don’t Go Same Old, Same Old
Not your audience. Hopefully. / Source
If there is one sure way of losing another person’s attention, it is by belaboring points and giving them the same old thing, year after year. Now I am not saying that great speakers cannot offer fresh and exciting insights over and over again. However, they will inevitably be bringing those thoughts from the same place – their life or career experience and their ways of seeing the world. As far as possible, ensure there is diversity. Try not to repeat speakers from previous events. Eventually the audience losing interest, the event loses its appeal and from there you’re on a spiral down. Mix it up and reap the rewards.
Lastly, and this may be a bit of a controversial idea, trust your speaker. You’ve done your homework, you know who you have chosen and because of all of that, you should be able to trust him/her. Supply the speaker with what he needs to know – the presentation style, the theme, the topics and the issues, and then let him/her get on with it. No one likes to be micro-managed and an unhappy speaker is not what you want on your hands. Besides, think of it this way, if all you wanted was a mouthpiece for what you wanted to say, why not make the speech yourself?
Speeches can either be the highlight of the event or the part where everyone just wishes they could hit fast-forward to. These few simple ideas can help in making the former a reality and the latter a nightmare scenario that never happens to you!