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Survey Says...


Posted on May 07, 2007

By Brian Palmer

Last week's mimegasite survey about speakers helps make an important point. 

The question posed was, "Which type of keynote speaker is most desirable to your meeting groups these days?"  The results of the survey provided two distinct preferences.  The first was for someone who had become famous for a remarkable achievement and could inspire and or motivate.  The next largest segment expressed a preference for a keynote speaker who had worked within their same industry and whose ideas might be directly attributable to their work.

The lesson here is that  if you wish to satisfy a wide range of attendees your odds will go up if  you schedule some sort of mix.

One should also keep these ratios in mind when reviewing speaker evaluations.  Those that prefer one sort of speaker are apt to comment when they don’t get what they want. It has also been my experience that those inferring that a speaker from their industry, with practical ideas has a tendency to make their point more ardently.  I’ve seen evaluations from a thousand person meetings where 500 people filled out evaluations that were laced with praise for the speakers  and complaints from a handful that the speakers were not from their industry and, hence, not directly relevant.  Then, in an effort to eliminate all dissatisfaction the pursuit of direct relevance goes too far and  produces really bad results. 

Some conclusions from my almost daily "read"of speaker evaluations, surveys and customer feedback include:

--Audiences want an interesting speaker who will take their mind to new places and reconfirm some old notions   
--Groups adore speakers that do homework to ensure that their talk accounts for the group and  their work
--The best speakers breed some degree of discomforOccasionally the group is not too keen on the speaker that did exactly what the meeting wanted owner wanted

Having a great speaker at your meeting will never go out of style.   

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