Eight ways to energize the ROI for vendors who sponsor Speakers

February 08, 2007

By Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE

With budget constraints, many planners look to fund educational session through their vendors.  Get a clue—an announcement from the stage and a banner over the podium is not enough.  There’s not enough connection between the vendor and the speaker. There’s much more leverage you can get from a top flight professional speaker.

Consider these additions:

(1) Ask that the speaker become versed in the vendor’s product or service. If possible and appropriate, the speaker might be able to use the vendor company as an example during the presentation. For example, in addressing the administrators of law firms, I spoke about the importance of strategic alliances so the right work is done by the right people. The sponsor, Pitney Bowes, handled printing, mail room services, etc. in a manner that was be both efficient and cost-effective for the firm.  Pitney Bowes served as a great example of a strategic alliance!

(2) Use the speaker for both a keynote and a break-out.  Many speakers offer a daily fee which means you can use them for more then one session in a day.  This strategy ensures that every attendee, no matter what their schedule, will have the opportunity to see the speaker in action.

(3) Ask the speaker to write an article that can be reprinted by the vendor with the vendor logo and given away free at the booth. The speaker can be in the booth, autographing the article. Suggest that the vendor print the article in the company newsletter or magazine for those who could not attend.

(4) Ask the speaker to sign books in the vendor’s booth and greet people. If the vendor wants to draw traffic, give away the speaker’s book at the vendor booth for the first 100 people. You’ll be amazed at how much traffic will instantly show up. A variation on this theme is to split the give-away into morning and afternoon, thus generating traffic at different times of the day

(5) If possible, work with the speaker to use either her core message or the speech title as part of the background in the booth. This not only reinforces a learning point, but identifies the vendor to all attendees and not just the ones who attended the keynote session.

(6) Suggest the vendor print up a postcard with the company information AND the speaker’s key learning points.  Mail it after the trade show to everyone who attended the conference. In fact, a really classy gesture is to write a cover letter about the company and WHY you sponsored the speaker. Mail it in a hand-addressed envelope and enclose a wallet-size card with the speaker’s main points.

(7) Consider hiring the speaker to follow-up with attendees by sending out a regular article or newsletter by e-mail sponsored by your organization.  This reinforces the speaker’s message for long term results and provides additional exposure for your organization.

(8) If the fit is a good one, consider sponsoring the same speaker within the organization. So often, rank-and-file employees do not get to attend conferences. The prevailing view that “sales and marketing have all the fun” can be countered if you bring what your learned back to the corporation. And continuing education is one of the top three retention factors.

To sponsor a speaker for a one-hour session leaves value and opportunity on the table.  When you match the association’s needs with your business objectives and strategically avail yourself of whatever services a professional speaker can offer, everyone becomes a winner!

Seven tips for getting control of your time

February 07, 2007

By Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE

In a world where “too much to do and too little time” is a common manta, there’s a felt sense that everyone and everything has more control over our day than we do.  While we might be at the beck and call of others, there are still areas where the culprit is none other than ourselves.

Using the word “control” as an acronym, here are ways to gain some relief from self-induced pressure.

Can the clutter.   Do you walk into your office and instantly feel a sense that you could be buried in the mess?  Papers are piled on the desk, on the floor, and in tiered boxes.   Note that if this were your natural style of organization, you’d feel pressure by having items out of sight!  But if you’re like a great majority of people, clutter only adds to the time spent in finding what you need.  Do you use everything that you have on display?  Can you find items when you need them?   If you’ve answered “no”, proceed to the next recommendation.

Out with excess paper.  Examine what surrounds you.  What can you throw out, give out, leave out?  If you are months behind in journals and other publications, scan the table of contents and keep only those items that you KNOW you’ll need.  Throw the rest away.

No, not, never, not now.  Say it. Practice it.  We frequently nod our heads “yes” like a wind-up toy because of guilt, fear, or a sense that obligation.  Ask yourself why do you say “yes?” Perhaps even a “not now” would suffice.  I am convinced that if we do not put limits on our time, it will vanish with our unknowing permission.

Talk up. To curtail long conversations or meeting, learn these sentences. “I would like to be able to talk with you but I have another engagement.  Can you please tell me your request (situation, concern, etc.) in 25 words or less?”   First, you won’t be lying with your opening statement.  You will always have another engagement—even if it’s with the report in your computer.  Second, you have indicated a willingness to respond. You have merely put a concise cast to the conversation.  It’s amazing how “25 words or less” can increase the speed and fluency of conversation.

Read only what matters. And a bunch of it doesn’t matter. Tell people to take you off global e-mails. Learn the art of skimming. Train your assistant to skim and then report back to you only what he thinks is most important.

Operate early.  This can mean everything from getting up early to doing things early.  If you pack for a trip, don’t wait until the last minute.  Prepare, in advance, your suitcase, your briefcase.  The only things that need to be added are last minute items.  Create artificial deadlines that are in advance of the true deadline.  You’ll always feel more in control.

Lighten up. Perfect isn’t perfect.  Look for and relish the unexpected.  There is serendipity when we allow ourselves to surrender to events and times over which we have no control.  The bad weather that keeps my plane grounded allows me to complete a piece of writing I could not have finished.  The shop that closes just as soon as I approach the door lets me walk down the street and find other stores that I had never noticed before.

Getting in control is ultimately about getting clear on our work habits, our priorities, and our values.

Brainpower for the Overwhelmed Don’t get SADD---GET GLAD

February 06, 2007

By Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE

Ever open your appointment book and wonder who the heck is Sam and why you are meeting him?   Walk into the room and can’t find your keys? Or forget why you entered the room in the first place?  Feel overwhelmed by information, technology, to-do lists and demands on your time? Your energy is zapped/

You might very well be suffering from SADD- situational attention deficit disorder, a term coined by the Anderson Consulting Institute for Strategic Change.  Specifically, most of us are now in situations in which we are bombarded by so many demands for our attention that our brains close down.

Consider it the madness of the millennium, caused in no small part to the fact that our brains are hardwired to respond to stimuli.  Our brains just naturally want to “take it all in and respond”.  It’s a safety mechanism that has us jump “without thinking” when danger is at hand. This cerebral mechanism works great at red lights and crosswalks but it short circuits when over-stimulated.

Information, to-lists, and technology will no go away. But there are ways to turn from “SADD” to glad.

1. Don’t just do something.  Stand there.
Before rushing into an activity, take a few deep breaths and think.  Ask yourself what action makes the most sense.  What is the pressing need of the moment and are YOU the right person to do it.   My biggest overwhelms come when I plunge in to “fix” something without have analyzed it first.

2. Establish personal and professional priorities and focus on them.
Personal priorities are those to do-list items that are important to you: family time, exercise, mediation, and others.  Literally block out space and hold these times sacred.  Make sure that your professional priorities match the priorities of your manager and your customers.  You’ll save yourself stress and maybe your job if you are aligned with their priorities.

3. Develop horse sense—the ability to say “WHOA!”
The average American receives over 200 phone, paper, and e-mail messages a day.  Take care of those that are priority and let the rest drop off. Ignore the messages that are uninvited and unnecessary.  Cancel newspapers and magazines you no longer read. Ask to be taken off e-mail lists that don’t serve you. And don’t zap other people’s brains by sending them unwanted e-mail.

4. Create a centering place.
Whether it is in the silence of your car, or in a shower, or closing your door, take 15 minutes per day to practice paying attention to ONE thing: your breathing, a flower, a fish tank.  Like the muscle in our bodies, the brain gets strong in the places where we train it.  Focus turns SADD into glad!

Seven sure-fire ways to zap energy in a meeting

February 05, 2007

By Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE

Turn a key in the ignition. A motor engages, a spark flies, connects to a battery and, voila- ENERGY!  No connection. No energy.

People are just like cars. Our energy—the capacity to do work—is depleted when there is little or no connection between ourselves and other people, our jobs, our family, our profession.  The energy equation that best summarizes this is E=MC2.  Don’t think Einstein. Think of it this way:  Energy = Meaningful Connection to the power of two.  The more you are connected in a meaningful way to people, places, positions, and your personal passions, the more energy you will experience.

Meetings are marvelous examples that can either generate energy through deliberate, conscious connections which engage people of all generations and at all levels or they can be tedious, boring events that leave people wondering why they ever came.

Often, the meeting planner is stymied by executives or association officers who insist on doing things “the ways they’ve always been done.”  Perhaps this brief list might reinforce the rationale for making change. While the degree to which you can influence these meetings might vary, consider some of the more common things I have noticed that disengage the very community you wish to create

1. Head tables on a stage—some as many as three tiers high—where the “leaders” demonstrate table manners and elitism.  The “we/they” implication is evident and the opportunity for connection vanishes. 
2. Dense agendas that attempt to pack in everything from skill-building sessions to complicated reports dull any connection. Follow this with another speaker at dinner and you’ve drained the blood from attendees.
3. A room set-up that leaves an enormous gap between staging and the front row. Combine this with a huge center aisle and every presenter is confronted by a wasteland that sucks energy away.
4. Name badges in 10 point-type with enough ribbons to make a near-sighted general envious are definite dis-connectors.
5. Not allowing enough time for formal and informal networking.
6. Not creating up-front expectations on what the meeting participants will do as a result of the gathering.
7. Poorly prepared presenters who dump data rather than deliver meaningful content. (Most executives could use a speech coach in both the design and delivery of material.

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