OK, OK.. we, as meeting planners, know that some speakers can be a royal pain in the ass. Some of them can be demanding, some can be prissy, and some can be downright rude… but face it, so can we meeting planners. Why don’t we work on the relationship and have a little kumbaya moment before we start to see meeting planners and speakers duking it out in the aisles.
99.432% of the speakers that you have at your conference or event are hardworking people just like us. They have a stake in the industries we serve. Most (good) speakers, come to your event to share their wealth of knowledge and they do so with a smile and a PowerPoint. Why must we give them such a hard fucking time…
Industries differ and what speakers expect is all over the board but one constant remains and that is that you should do something for them. You might pay them, you might cover travel, you might pay them and cover travel… but you should never expect a speaker to speak for free, cover their own travel, and pay for their own registration. Not providing the basics is a common street crime. You are mugging the poor little bastard.
Here is a good rule of thumb… if you cannot cover your event costs and do something for your speakers, you are doing it wrong.
Oh, and “you will get great exposure by speaking at this event” is Grade A bullshit. “You will get exposure” is industry speak for “We didn’t plan our event correctly and screwed the pooch so now everyone has to throw a dime in the well and make a wish so we can have croissants on the breakfast buffet”.
Speakers already “pay their way” by giving OUR attendees all of their knowledge on whatever subject our events are about.
Don’t get me wrong. I see both sides of the coin and speakers have to do their part too but it is easier to get someone to play ball when you act first. Always remember, the attendee experience is what is most important and content is the reason they are walking through the door and putting their butts in the seats. Attendees don’t show up because we are cool to hang out with or because there is an open bar at the welcome reception.
Remember. You get what you pay for so don’t be a cheap ass.