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"The Most Expensive Speaker I've Ever Had Was Free"

Posted on June 16, 2006

By Brian Palmer

This wise client statement came from a senior executive with a large corporation. Someone his senior secured a person of note to speak at their conference.  My client attempted to feed this alleged speaker information about the group and event and his associate dismissed the effort and suggested "I'll take care of it".  He didn't.

While at the resort the speaker pilfered the robe, found a $170 bottle of wine he loved, enjoyed the mini bar (to excess), took in some $14 in room movies, unexpectedly stayed three nights, called the company by the wrong name (repeatedly),  made fun of a figure beloved to the group and was, in my client's words, "a room clearer."

Prior the presentation the senior guy was stuck to the speaker "like flypaper."  After, well, he got real busy and looked real stupid... for a long time.

I've observed a tendency to relinquish control of one of the most apparent components of a meeting when that speaker is appearing for little or no fee.  It is important to remember that the event is not about the speaker but rather, your organization, your attendees and your objectives. 

All speakers should be handled largely according the the brilliant system you have in place designed to help your speakers directly address event or organizational objectives, and ideas that exist in the mind of your audience. Some speakers need/require/demand different things so have some flexibility in the system... to a point.    


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