Delegates demand entertainment from speakers

What are delegates wanting? Nowadays, they want to hear a story, they want an immersive experience, with a healthy dose of humour. Ben Myatt from Thinking Heads, gives us the lowdown.

They also expect hi-res graphics on huge wide screens, with digital sound quality audio, a healthy dose of interactivity, and most importantly they want to be entertained. They don’t want to attend a lecture like first-year business school students or be subjected to  Death by PowerPoint.

You know the kind of thing I mean, you sit there while the speaker reads out word for word their 500-slide PowerPoint presentation. This will have audience members reaching for their mobile phones and tablets in a heartbeat while they wait for the speaker to finish.

Without a shadow of a doubt one of the most important jobs for event planners is choosing the most effective speaker.

With the wrong speaker you risk disappointing your client, upsetting the audience and in the worst case scenario ruining an event completely that has been many months in the planning and has cost a small fortune to produce.

What’s trending?

In Europe, delegates still prefer a 45-minute keynote for its perceived added value (the longer the presentation it must be more value for money) filled with plenty of actionable information, a good dose of humorous anecdotes and some good ideas. In the US they prefer shorter presentations with a smattering of  jokes, in a format more like the TED talks,  perhaps because they want to cram as many speakers as possible into their event whilst still allowing time at least one entertainer before the 30-minute networking lunch break.

So academics and old-school business leaders are out (they are too out of touch with current thinking, too boring, too old and usually middle-aged balding men who rose up the ranks and are now regurgitating out-of-date ideas we have all heard before.

The new breed of speakers are vibrant disruptors, young, innovative and creative women and men that grab your attention from the first second.  They show beautifully edited video clips, impactful images and talk our language, leaving audiences inspired, amazed and wanting more.

Who else do delegates seek? Internationally well-known celebrity speakers are still a huge draw despite their sometimes eye-watering price tags. But who can resist watching a Hollywood A lister? Or a sports hero talking about how they became an international superstar worth billions often from very humble beginnings? The return on investment of splashing out on a “big name” will be recovered ten-fold in the publicity and if a ticketed event in ticket sales.

The best way to find an ideal speaker for your event

Instead of spending hours poring over the internet to source speakers for your events, ask the experts. Speaker bureaux work with a huge database of speakers and can quickly give you prices and travel requirements of thousands of speakers. They have the added advantage of working with many speakers, therefore saving you hours of time by letting you know which speakers are easier to book, a doddle to work with, which ones are a safe pair of hands and which ones will guarantee a happy audience, a happy client and repeat business.

What can go wrong? 

If you book a speaker directly, and they get sick, miss a flight, forget to get a visa or change their mind (usually because a better offer comes along) speaker bureaux have got your back, and can get another similar or replacement speaker on a plane sometimes in hours. Speaker bureaus will make sure all of their speakers have entry visas, the flights arrive in plenty of time, and always have a plan B, a Plan C and even a Plan D.

Ben Myatt, director speakers & conferences, Thinking Heads