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Speak Well Being

Serving hospitals, healthcare and women's groups

For Your Well Being: Speaking of Priorities

Sept. 20, 2012

Vol. 10, Issue 18

Dear Friends,

Last week an interesting report crossed my screen about meeting planners’ priorities and processes when choosing a keynote speaker. It was a survey done by Meetings and Conventions magazine, to which 114 meeting professionals had responded.  Not a large number by any means, but I think enough to merit discussion. Some of the trends made complete sense to me, and others were enough of a surprise to really get me thinking. So, that’s what I’m sharing with you today and hopefully, opening a meaningful discussion. I’d love to hear what you think.

Speaking of Priorities

What Are Yours?

“What are your priorities when choosing a speaker?” was the question that interested me the most.

Top Priority? Relevance to the audience was the top priority when choosing a keynote speaker.  That makes perfect sense. One of the benefits of working with me is that once you tell me about your audience and the purpose of your program, I can bring you a variety of speakers with different approaches but all relevant to your audience and objectives – and thereby expand your chance of finding the perfect choice. I also provide your committee or team with materials to give everyone a sense of the relevance of each of the candidates so that you can make that choice from an informed perspective as a group. But possibly most important is the input I can give you from having personally experienced the speaker, combined with the advantage of my professional framework to give perspective to that experience. For example, sometimes a committee member gets excited about the author of a book because of her message — but being an author doesn’t necessarily mean she’s going to be a great keynote speaker. I can put the author-speaker persona into perspective, and guide you as to the viability of the author as a speaker.

Over half the budgets were under $10,000.

Second in the poll was cost.  Again, that makes perfect sense to me. Of course your budget is a key element — that’s why when you email or phone me, I ask early in the conversation about your budget – before I recommend any choices for you.

What were typical budgets for these conference meeting planners? Well, 38% of respondents to the poll paid $5,000 or less, and 26% paid $5,000 to $10,000, for keynote speakers. That tells me that here at The Speak Well Being Group, we’re right on track: more than half of the speakers on our website are available at keynote fees of $5,000 or less.

Third in the poll was recommendation of others at 54%. I’d like to think that I’m included in that category, but I think it more likely means you listen to your peers.

Fourth was availability (46%). That seems a little odd as a criterion to me. Obviously, you’ll book a speaker if they’re available, and you won’t if they’re not.

Fifth was known name/celebrity ( 32%) — understandable.

Relevance to current events came in at 30% — I think that was relevant to industry conference planners, but not so much for us and the women’s events that we service.

Prior experience using the speaker was 25% — love that repeat business.

Next to last was quality of demo/other collateral at 19%. I definitely think the internet has changed the criteria here. At one time a slick video might have been enough to sell a speaker. But things have changed. Slick is out; current, relevant, authentic is in.

And in last place, relationship with speakers bureau at 7%. Ouch! That hurt. Really? I sort of understand the precedence of others having seen someone they recommend, but I also know from experience, that that doesn’t always work out so well.  And, wow, I feel a little deflated here.

Two things. First of all, I have to acknowledge with huge Thank You’s the loyal clients who have come back to me time after time, year after year — those who have allowed me to engage with you and your event, to find out what you really want and what your budget will allow, and to suggest some speakers you had never heard of. You have trusted me to keep bringing you fresh ideas and speakers women love. This is what drives me, and has helped me grow personally and professionally.

Second, for me this raises the question of what can I do to build more solid and meaningful relationships with you, our clients and prospective clients? It’s obvious to me that in putting together an event, going to someone like me at no cost gives you a greater selection in your price range with less time spent than any other way you could approach your search. But if you don’t know that, you won’t come to me. So I am asking you to tell me how to get the word to more planners. In this crazy world of social media, etc., is it facebook, videos (more on that below), personal phone calls?  More email communications? Is there a conference where I could meet you or showcase a speaker or two or three? This e-news is one way I reach out to let you know who I am and what I’m all about, as well as the speakers and stories that I sense and hope will interest you. Now I want to know what other ways work for you – to make your job easier, your days less stressful, and your results spectacular.

I’m vitally interested in what you think and what would support you.  You can send me your comments by emailing me at <> or comment below. Yes you! How do you find speakers? How do you choose speakers? Do you recommend to a group, or do people bring you recommendations and you make the final choice? How important is finding the right speaker in your job?

In a future issue, we’ll dive into another question the survey posed:  “Where do you typically find speakers?” Hint: Speakers bureaus fared better in the search process than in the priorities question.


Mare Petras, whom we featured in our last issue asked me make a correction. She was neither an Olympic marathon swimmer nor an NPR correspondent. Somehow, we mis-interpreted that from a recorded interview and got our signals crossed.  It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, we want to make it right.  Apologies to you Mare, and to our readers for any misunderstanding.

Lights, Camera, Action

I have a favorite song, “What Would I Do Today If I Were Brave?” by Jana Stanfield. The first time I heard it, I answered to myself, “I would date.” Gulp. I dated. Fifty coffee dates later, he (Jim, who edits this e-news now!) showed up. Next answer to what would I do today if I were brave? “I would get married.” Gulp. I did, and 7 years later we are still married, and we are both happy I was brave. [Editor’s note: That’s true.]

So when the opportunity came up to do a 30-Day Video Challenge (the last thing in the world I wanted to do was put myself in front of a camera – other than maybe jump out of an airplane without a parachute), that familiar song rang in my head, and I had to answer, “I’d give it a shot.”

So I’m in a group of other brave souls, videoing ourselves with our iPhones and webcams — just to get comfortable on camera and see if we can deliver 2-3 minute clips. We have a private Facebook group where we share our efforts and give feedback and support. We’re learning a little about lighting, backgrounds, etc., but mostly we are learning to get comfortable talking to the camera.

It’s scary. I bumble. I laugh at myself and make funny faces when I totally bomb. And I despair about whether I can do this. Then I get some encouragement and start again. This is taking practice, practice, practice, but I’m feeling a little driven to conquer my inhibitions. I’ve definitely challenged my vanity. Oh, and to be clear, this isn’t about me being a speaker, by any means. It’s experimenting to see if this would be a good way to put some messages on my website, or in this e-news, to help build that relationship piece we talked about above. Stay tuned. And feel free to give me encouragement – or to take encouragement from my experience.

Until next time, for a boost of confidence, try something that scares you — for your well being and those you love.

Yours truly,

For Your Well Being is published bi-weekly. We bring you insider speaker reports, exclusive stories about special events around the country, meeting planner tips, and fun stuff from the worlds of health and well being. Be well and be in the know!

The Speak Well Being Group is a specialized speakers bureau, focusing on speakers for hospital-sponsored community events, healthcare organizations, conferences and women’s groups. Our speakers are hand-selected. They are not only experts in their fields, they know how to connect with women and give them life-changing information served on a silver platter of joy, camaraderie, with a side of sauce (spicy, of course).

Finding the perfect keynote speaker for your special event or conference is my personal passion, not just once, but year after year. It brings me endless joy to know that your audience was delighted and moved by the speaker we selected together. I’m committed to making the process easy, pleasant and fun.

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