Get Your Money’s Worth When You Hire a Speaker!

Last week, I gave a 4-hour presentation on “Presentation Skills: Written & Verbal” to about 75 healthcare compliance executives. As a keynote speaker, the task was daunting, but I accepted the engagement, eager to rise to the challenge. Keynote speakers usually address a general session and deliver between 30 – 90 minutes of high-energy, high-impact information and entertainment.

When it comes to a four hour presentation, many keynote speakers simply modify their keynote and drag it out, perhaps adding a bit here or there. I’ve witnessed this enough to know that I did not want to fall into that category. Such presentations are painful to watch! I wanted to deliver fresh, rich, entertaining content for the full program. I wanted “keynote quality” for a full four hours.

When a meeting planner hires a professional, they need to know that they are going to get their money’s worth. This passion and devotion and the extra work that goes into creating an outstanding presentation is what makes it worthwhile for them to hire the best speaker they can afford.

When a brain surgeon earns $100,000 to operate on a patient’s brain for just FIVE minutes, is the patient paying him $100,000 for five minutes? Not at all. He is paying the doctor for 10 years of medical school, years of internship and learning his specialty, plus additional years of experience. He is paying the doctor for knowing WHERE to cut during those precious five minutes!

The same is true when it comes to hiring a professional motivational speaker. You are not just paying for the hour, (or, as in this case – 4 hours). You are paying for that speaker’s training and expertise. You are paying for their vast experience. You know that they will be able to work the room and deliver an outstanding, memorable presentation.

I encounter aspiring speakers ALL THE TIME. Most of these aspiring speakers innocently have no clue as to what is involved in delivering an outstanding presentation. It’s not until they are half-way through a presentation and they are losing their audience that they realize they should have been better prepared and put more effort into their program.

I never had time to stop and add up the hours I spent and the steps I took to build this 4-hour program:

  • The e-mails and communications.
  • The advice and stories I gathered from friends and associates.
  • The research I did to find the anecdotes that would bring my stories to life.
  • The time involved in building the slides I wanted to use for my PPT.

It takes all of this effort to present an outstanding program. To me, it’s the only way to go.

When you hire a speaker, are you simply shopping by price? I know meeting planners have a budget and they usually need to stick to it. But how can a planner know when they hire someone who costs a bit more, if they will deliver? How can they know?

According to Bruce Turkel, an advertising/branding expert and author of Building Brand Value, one way is by asking for tangible details….or “deliverables.” In other words, inquire what that speaker is going to do differently to earn the position of being a presenter at your conference or meeting. As an advertising expert, Bruce knows a lot about leveling the playing field. When ad agencies pitch new business, one agency may SEEM to offer more but, in reality, they are only blowing smoke. By listing the DETAILS of what you will bring to the table, the deliverables become tangible so your client can now compare apples to apples.

What about ADDED VALUE? Is that speaker willing to meet your board of directors for a special dinner the night before the conference? Are they willing to host a webinar to stimulate interest pre-registration or create excitement the week before an event? And what about books? If your speaker is an author, are they willing to offer a bulk discount on their books so that you, the meeting planner, can offer added value to your conference registrants?


I worked on last week’s program for six weeks at the beginning of this year and then for the two solid weeks leading up to the event; I added to the program and modified every detail. Having recently studied Garr Reynold’s “Presentation Zen,” (a gift to me from Andy Ebon, my friend and internet marketing guru), I was also busy modifying EVERY presentation I have. I did this and my other work while I created a new program – essentially from scratch – for this four hour extravaganza.

Long story short? I created a program that delivered! One of the attendees – Wanda – came up to me afterward and shared, “I’ve been a speaker and teacher for 30 years and that was the best presentation I’ve ever heard!” I was delighted.

Another attendee told me during the 4:30 break that she was so sorry but she would have to leave at 5 and didn’t want me to be offended. Her friends were waiting for her. I suggested she ask them to come and join us! 5:00 rolled around and she never left. She stayed till the end and came up to me afterward to say that she loved the presentation and was so glad she stayed. She also shared that she had attended a presentation earlier that day that had EVERYTHING I said NOT to DO in a presentation:

  • Text-heavy slides
  • Endless bullet points
  • A speaker droning on without enthusiasm
  • A real “death-by-powerpoint”

I asked her what the session was on and she laughed, “I couldn’t tell you! I have NO IDEA!”

My assistant kept repeating, “They all came back after the break!” I spoke from 1:30PM – 5:30PM – and the conference cocktail reception was in full swing when we stopped for a 5-minute bathroom break at 4:30PM. Imagine choosing the last hour of a 4-hour session over a happy hour~! I was elated – I was delivering and the attendees were loving it. YEA!!! When you hire a professional who offers years of experience and the passion to bring a presentation to life, you’ll get your money’s worth every time!

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