In order to get ready for a workshop I was teaching, I asked speaker friends to share creative ideas for adding value to our events. I got great feedback from them, but something was missing.
Suddenly I realized I hadn’t tapped into an important group for the information I was seeking —the event planners themselves. Deciding that it would be valuable to hear what is important to them instead of just shooting in the dark for what might be, I sent a survey to some event planners I know. The responses I got were enlightening!
As I read through the elements that planners need from speakers, I realized in an attempt not to be a diva, I’ve actually been one of the speakers that drives event planners around the bend. I’ve never meant to be the vehicle to crazy-ville, but in trying to be low-maintenance, I’ve been difficult. I haven’t given them the information they need to make ours a successful partnership.
Here’s an example:
When I arrived at a particular event, I realized that I needed a couple of things. I needed the wireless internet passcode, and I really wanted the stage rearranged. It was set up with one of those humungous podiums in the middle and musician’s equipment close to it on both sides. I knew being hemmed in so closely was a recipe for disaster for my style of speaking which includes a lot of movement.
What to do?
I had to ask for the passcode since I needed it for the book table, so the event planner scrambled around asking about a dozen people before she found it.
By that time, I felt so bad that I didn’t want to bother her with the stage layout, so I didn’t mention it. That seemed like the right thing to do until an attendee afterward said, “I felt so sorry for you up there. You looked so STUCK!”
Oh, dear. I thought I hid it well and compensated, but the truth was that I felt stuck!! I like to move around and hate to stand behind a podium, so I had been completely miserable while I delivered my message. Evidently, it showed.
One of the event planners I surveyed listed both of those items—special information needed and stage layout—as details she wants to know ahead of time. Like most planners, she wants to know a speaker’s needs so that she can plan for and accommodate them.
Once I realized that asking for what I need is actually helpful, I developed a new document for my For Event Planners page on the speaking tab of my website called “Details for Amy.” On this page, I cover specifics like:
- The kind of mic I prefer as well as a second choice
- Some thoughts and guidelines about recording
- Notes on stage set-up (so that I don’t get stuck again!)
- Needs for the book table
- A request for the Wi-Fi password
I send this document to event planners after we have talked personally so that they do not feel I’m leading with my “list of demands.” So that they understand my requests are to make the day of the event as smooth as possible, I want to lead with my heart for service and partnership. (If you click on the link above to see “Details for Amy,” you’ll also notice that I worked to make it look cute, warm and a little fun. Graphic design is a beautiful communicator.)
Providing details to planners ahead of the event about what you need as a speaker is something that planners appreciate. Think through what you need and feel free to use my list to get ideas to create your own document.
Bio: Amy Carroll is a speaker and writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She is the author of Breaking Up with Perfect and speaker coach at Next Step Coaching Services. You can always find her trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner.