WAR STORIES! Speakers vs. Meeting Planners When You Hire a Speaker, Motivational Keynote Speakers, Trainer, Presenter or Seminar Leader

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WAR STORIES! Speakers vs. Meeting Planners

The following scenarios are factual. A combination of the war stories, battles, and skirmishes; and the conclusions, solutions and strategies that planners, speakers and I handled the "foray" with at the time.
Using a truly professional speaker will usually eliminate the need to do battle at all. The professionals are clear about what they expect from you and what you can expect from them.
The following are the rare, the obscure, and hopefully the "would never happen to you" kind of situation. Yet, they did indeed happen to someone! Being fore-warned is being fore-armed! Know what could happen in the worst possible situations. Solve problems with your speaker before they occur!

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The "we're mad at the speaker, we don't want to pay him" skirmish

A speaker was hired for a series of four dates. At the first engagement, he used material inappropriate for the audience. The planner told him not to use that particular material in the remaining engagements. At the second engagement, he did it again. The CEO and part of the audience walked out, furious at the planner for allowing this speaker to perform again!
Was the planner obligated to use this speaker for the remaining dates? Must payment be made on the balance of the remaining dates even if the speaker does not perform them?

Battle strategy

All of the professional speakers I discussed this with were appalled that any speaker would be so unethical as to disregard the direct request of a planner. The moral question is clear, the speaker is a paid employee and/or contractor who has an obligation to follow the host's wishes to the best of their ability.
The legal question of financial obligation is much more complicated. I asked two attorneys and one judge who are in the speaking profession. They felt the planners would be liable for the balance of the dates unless they had it in writing before the event.
Try adding a line to the contract, "If the speaker uses material that he/she has been specifically requested by the client not to use, the client will not pay the unpaid portion of the speaker's fee."
Also, make sure the speaker knows ahead of time the "forbidden" or "do not touch" topics of your group.
By the way, on the remainder of the unperformed engagements, all the planners and speakers alike said, "Fire that speaker!" Regardless of the money and finances, your obligation to the attendees is much greater than that to the speaker.

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The "over the time limit" battle

The speaker goes way over the time limit and is ignoring frantic signals to stop.
Unfortunately, it's usually the free speaker who runs overtime. Then, the expensive speaker you went into hock to get for your group has to cut their presentation in half to get you back on schedule!

Battle strategy
Less experienced planners said, "It was just a disaster." The ones who had "been around the track" a few times had pre-planned methods of dealing with this all too common problem:
1. Inform every speaker ahead of time that it is of vital importance to you and your group to stop at the specified time. It is so important, that you will be forced, against your will and better nature, to CUT HIM OFF. Be polite, be apologetic, BE FIRM!
2. Practice the time signals with the speaker before the speech.
3. Have your announcer, MC, or whoever, prepared to simply stand up, walk over to the lectern and when the speaker takes a breath, grab the mike and say , "Thank you so much! Let's all give him a round of applause!"

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The "soused speaker" sortie

The speaker went on the platform staggering drunk!

Battle strategy

It seldom happens, but when it does, my suggestion is to take the adult, mature course of action… panic! OR, bring your ukulele and perform yourself. But, don't let a drunk speaker go on.
Have a film ready to show, or someone in your group who has a standby speech. One of my clients hires an extra speaker to stand around the convention in case of any emergencies with speakers; a travel problem, injury, or any type of "no-show."

The key to treaty for peace
In all of your dealings with speakers:


Even that huge bill for expenses wouldn't have been such a problem if the planner had some idea ahead of the event.
Using a speaker and/or bureau with a good reputation can save you heart aches, but in the final picture, they will point fingers at you, as a planner who didn't plan quite enough!

Lilly Walters - for over 20 years a LEADING RESOURCE helping Corporate and Association Meeting Planners find the PERFECT speakers and entertainers for their events. Former leading executive of Walters International Speakers Bureau. Today she owns and runs Amazing Motivational Keynote Speakers and helps speakers and seminar leaders find ways to increase their bookings

Lilly Walters the author of five of the best-selling books about the professional speaking industry, such as, "Speak and Grow Rich," "1,001 Ways to Make More Money as a Speaker, Consultant or Trainer: Plus 300 Rainmaking Strategies for Dry Times," and many more.

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Lilly Walters - has for over 20 years THE LEADING RESOURCE helped Corporate and Association Meeting Planners find PERFECT speakers and entertainers for their events: motivational, business leadership and management experts, keynote, celebrities, corporate entertainment, humorous, diversity, political, authors, consulting and training solutions, sport athletes and much more.

Lilly Walters is the author of five of the best-selling books about the professional speaking industry, including the best seller she wrote for Dottie Walters, "Speak and Grow Rich"