April 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio April 2002 Current Issue
April 2002 ChecklistPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:




The following checklist was compiled with the help of Brian Palmer, president, National Speakers Bureau, 14047 W. Petronella Dr., Libertyville, Ill. 60048;


  • What is the speaker’s role in the event? For example, will he or she be a keynoter or a session moderator?
  • How should the presentation affect the audience? Should they be entertained or motivated to sell?
  • What is the budget?
  • What is the audience makeup (gender, age, economic background)?
  • What type of speaker (humorist, futurist, economist) would best suit the group’s needs?
  • Will the event have an overall theme that the speaker must tie into?
  • Will the speaker be asked to meet any special requests (book signing, question-and-answer session, autographs)?

  • Give the speaker or agent the group’s name and size as well as some background on the organization.
  • State the group’s budget, and note whether costs such as airfare, lodging, meals, transportation and incidentals will be reimbursed as additional expenses.
  • Tell the speaker how he was selected; this provides insight into the group’s personality and priorities.
  • Give the speaker a specific time frame, and indicate whether it will include a question-and-answer period.
  • Give the speaker details on group size and makeup. Is the audience a competitive sales group? Will they be sitting through a full day of seminars?
  • Let the speaker know if there is a definite topic or theme of the event that the presentation should complement. Note if a customized speech is needed.
  • Tell the speaker what has worked well with the group in the past, as well as what topics or presentations were not as well-received.
  • Discuss special interests of attendees, as well as organizational taboos, particularly if the audience will include international participants.
  • Ask the speaker for biographical information, a video of her speech (if available), referrals and copies of handouts. Review all materials well in advance.
  • For customized speeches, ask to see several key points, but do not expect an entire transcript or video of the speech before the event.
  • Discuss permission to videotape or record the presentation.

  • Provide the location, date of the event and time of the speech. Specify if those details are subject to change.
  • If the speaker is needed for the whole day, including social functions, be sure to say so verbally and in the contract. Remember: The number of hours the speaker is needed determines the fee.
  • Ask about cancellation policies. Most speakers charge a penalty; however, early cancellation generally means paying a smaller fee than canceling last-minute.
  • Include an Acts of God clause in the speaker contract. This limits the group’s liability for the speaker’s fee if cancellation is necessary because of severe weather problems or other factors beyond anyone’s control.
  • If planning more than one meeting in the coming year for which the speaker might be a good fit, ask for a package deal.
  • If the speaker is being used for more than one session at the same event (e.g., as a keynoter and as a workshop moderator), negotiate a lower fee by combining the two.
  • Offer free advertising in the event’s directory in exchange for a reduced fee.

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