Making sure the best speakers get heard

WHILE an exclusive venue, delicious food and impressive audio-visual effects all play a part in the creation of a memorable conference, a professional speaker is the crucial ingredient that can make or break an event.

But, all too often, the importance of hiring a professional speaker is overlooked and organisers and audiences alike are left cringing at speeches made by inexperienced orators.

National Speakers Association of Australia WA Chapter vice-president Thomas Murrell said booking the right speaker was absolutely essential, as it would be they who made the biggest impression on the audience, and not the food or venue.

“Event organisers sometimes forget this and spend fortunes on the venue and the food, and when it comes to the speakers, they don’t hire professionals,” Mr Murrell said.

“Instead, they may hire someone who is in the spotlight at that time.

“But one of the biggest things to remember when booking a speaker is that high profile does not mean high quality.”

The power of speech should not be underestimated … good speakers could often caused a shift in the attitudes and beliefs of their audience, he said.

“Good speakers have proven experience and can deliver practical advice … and share their own insights and experience in the field,” Mr Murrell said.

Booking an orator accredited by the NSAA can take the risk out of choosing a person to address the event, he said.

There are three levels of NSAA accreditation – the Accredited Speaking Member, the Accredited Speaking Professional and the Certified Speaking Professional.

In WA there are 70 NSAA members, six of whom have reached the CSP level. They specialise in a growing range of topics, including financial management for women, business ethics and wealth creation.

Two topics in particular that are experiencing a rapid growth in popularity are web-based marketing and networking skills.

The task of selecting a speaker should not be taken lightly and left to the last minute, Mr Murrell said.

Firstly, organisers must determine the needs and interests of the audience and the purpose of the speech, from after-dinner light-hearted banter to keynote address.

“Then the dates, length of speech and budget must be worked out well in advance, because some of the top speakers are booked out up to six months in advance,” Mr Murrell said.

“And for WA professional speakers the minimum fees start from about $1000 and go up to about $10,000.”

Organisers should meet potential speakers before hiring them to discuss the topic and their ideas and review testimonials from satisfied clients and videos of previous presentations.

“If they can’t provide testimonials or a video of a previous presentation then that should sound alarm bells, because all professional speakers should have them,” Mr Murrell said.

Add-ons, such as handouts or showbags, were popular service some professional speakers offered because they could be taken away from the event referred to later, and also shared with others not able to attend.

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