Are the speakers for your upcoming conference or annual meeting ready for prime time? Speaker training will help get them there quickly!
If you've attended many conferences, conventions, or corporate retreats, you've experienced an odd situation: Professional keynoters aside, speakers are usually chosen for their topic or industry knowledge, not one's speaking prowess. And that means some of them aren't ready for prime time.
If you're thinking this is an ongoing problem for many high-profile events, you're right.
As I've written previously, business or nonprofit leadership isn't always a ticket to dynamic public speaking. They're different disciplines. And though the talents necessary for both may overlap in some individuals, that's frequently not the case.
Are you tapping into your natural talents? Speak for leadership! Download my free e-book, High-Impact Speaking: The Leader's Guide to Presenting With Integrity and Influence.
So how can you ensure that your conference speakers are good—really good—at inspiring audiences? After all, you haven't invested all those resources in your make-or-break meeting only to have the guests of honor be missing in action when it comes to wowing your audience.
Are Your Speakers Only Subject Matter Experts?
If your keynote speakers are masters at their topics but weak communicators, it isn't a fatal condition. But you need to be aware of it, and ready to bolster their public speaking skills. Fame (or notoriety) aren't enough to seal the deal when it comes to engaging and exciting listeners.
A few years ago, I was invited to speak at the annual meeting of a medical society. It was a five-day affair that provided plenty of business for one of the country's largest hotel-and-convention centers. But it's what someone said over drinks that was one of the most interesting aspects of the meeting for me.
This person was one of the event's organizers, and we were discussing this year's speakers. He was lamenting what had occurred at the previous year's convention. The group had opted for a famous entertainer for the highest profile speech, and this gentleman shared with me the astronomical speaking fee his group had paid. I thought I knew what was coming next.
"The person was terrible . . . terrible! We even got a call from this person following the conference, apologizing for their performance." Not, however, (he added) offering to return any of their fee.
You could argue that that speaker wasn't even a subject matter expert, which of course is true. But I think it drives home the point even more strongly: Any and all speakers at a high-profile gathering should be prepared and primed to be at their best.
A Few Stage Skills Can Transform Your Speakers Fast!
I've heard the complaints time and time again, and maybe you have too: Either a keynote had nothing to do with the conference topic, or the speaker hadn't prepared sufficiently for the event. And these remarks are usually from the conference organizers. There's no way to tell how many attendees, having spent time and money to get to the location, were disappointed by what they saw and heard there.
"Prepared and primed," as I said above, can mean a few things. It certainly means your organization telling the speaker about the impression you're trying to create. But in terms of a great speaking performance, it really means speech coaching. A first-class speech coach can work with your entire roster of speakers—via virtual training beforehand, and on-site rehearsals one or two days before your event starts.
Have a few key members of your staff on hand when you're rehearsing on-site, to discuss strategy, content, the audience's make-up, and any other considerations that your speech coach doesn't know about. Then sit back and let the coach do his or her thing, conferring with each speaker beforehand, and giving notes after each practice session. And you'll do yourself a monumental favor if the person you bring in has a background in theater-based techniques for business speaking.
You'll probably be amazed at how quickly your speakers' performances can be improved through the tools and the magic of stagecraft.
You should follow me on Twitter here.
Want to make your speakers extraordinary? Dr. Gary Genard coaches leaders, spokespersons, brand ambassadors, and keynote speakers for annual meetings, conferences, conventions, and retreats. Reach him at The Genard Method! Looking for a keynote speaker on communicating for leadership? You'll find Gary at H Speakers.