Planning for the Perfect Speaker

Friday, 17 April 2009
Planning for the Perfect Speaker

Article written by Winston Broadbent, Managing Director, Saxton Corporation

I am sure that we have all heard what we might call our favourite or best speaker. I remember listening to the former New Zealand Prime Minister, the late David Lange, at a major conference and marveling at his mastery of the spoken word, his wit, his ability to perfectly tailor his speech for the client’s message and the amazing bond that he had created with his audience. I had become lost in what was no longer a speech but a veritable art form.

 Many people jump to the conclusion that such a speech just happens. Yes, Mr Lange was possessed of an extraordinary gift but there is much that goes into making this sort of speaker event happen. At the end of the day it all comes back to planning. There is the initial choice of the speaker from the speaker bureau – a fundamental choice that is based on a myriad of factors and the requirements of the Professional Conference Organisers and client including the need for a drawcard, a particular message, a delivery style or a credibility in a certain field.

 The partnership between the Professional Conference Organisers, Client and Bureau is critical here and the choice of speaker often reflects decades of experience in the business. The planning then moves from style to detail and there is much to get right – speech content and duration, logistics, AV support, promotional material, introduction and much, much more. A seamless speech reflects the work of all the players.

 That planning extends to contingencies. What if a speaker is unable to perform? Now speakers are a hardy lot but disasters do happen and we all need to be ready. The Speaker Bureau, in complementary style to the other conference players, will provide you with that last minute fill in. It is an extremely rare event but it is comforting to rely on the vast reserves that a bureau has.

 And when you get past planning and everything is ready for the day, the event team will provide that seamless experience that reflects all the planning and preparatory work. Minor problems will be absorbed by the team. I remember Mr Lange uttering the words “… and Margaret Thatcher” At that precise moment there was an explosion at one of the lecterns and the microphone went dead – a power spike. An unruffled Mr Lange walked to the other lectern and continued “She wouldn’t have put up with any of that, the terrorist squad would have been in here straight away”. An embarrassing silence was replaced by a moment of priceless levity and the client was delighted.

 Our perfect speech reflects the operations and planning of the Professional Conference Organiser, the bureau, the Audio Visual company and the client - each playing their own critical part. The teamwork and product that they collectively create is, however, more than that – it turns what is and event into an experience to be treasured.

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