If the best thing someone can say about you is that you are
inspirational, without saying how, you are probably lacking
6. Showcase Your Specialty. Make sure viewers know the one
thing you specialize in. Do this exercise: Show your video to a
neighbor who does not know what you do for a living. Once
they are done watching, ask: “What topic do I specialize in?”
If the answer is “public speaking,” you have a problem.
7. Downplay Marketing Materials. The speakers bureaus made
it clear that when they evaluate a video, they want footage of
the speaker speaking, not hawking books, products, services
or promoting his/her TV appearances. Do include marketing
materials in the video, but don’t overdo it. It serves as context
and lets the viewer know the speaker. This is the real balancing
act. You need to let the viewer understand that you may have
written books and articles, and may have appeared in the
press and in front of many different audiences. Yet it needs to
be done tastefully without being shamelessly self-promotional.
8. Give It a Catchy Title. Create an effective name or title for
your video presentation so it’s memorable.
9. Include Parting Gifts. Make sure there is a take-away for the
audience (and the viewer)—something you want individuals to
remember about you the next morning, when they are brushing their teeth, for example.
10. Put Your Best Stuff First. The speakers bureaus say they typically
watch only the first three or four minutes of a video to determine the speaker’s quality. It’s during those critical minutes that
your video needs to shine and show off your talents.
Because the video demo research was conducted at conferences
rather than at focus group facilities, time was somewhat limited to
provide a comprehensive view of what’s effective. As a result, the
advice offered in this article represents just a preview of how planners and bureaus evaluate videos.
In particular, there is much more to be learned about how professional speakers can effectively produce their videos and weave
in promotional material without being obtrusive. In short, we know
a lot about what not to do; what’s needed is further understanding
of what works well—and ways to create templates of successful
videos that professional speakers can use to design theirs.
The NSA Foundation serves NSA members and the public
Financial help for NSA members and their families who
are facing health or natural disaster emergencies;
Grants to NSA members who need help with their dues
or meeting registration fees;
Scholarships for speech/communications students and
Oversight and funding for speaking-related research;
Grants to help charitable organizations communicate
The 2006–2007 Foundation Research Committee is headed
by Sarah Layton, PhD, CMC, with Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, as
the liaison to the Foundation Trustees.
The research team is generating ideas to take the video
demo research to the next level and launching a new RFP to
the academic community to sponsor research about the
industry. The goal is to solicit responses, analyze proposals
and announce the research grants at the 2007 NSA Convention.
For more information on the NSA Foundation, please visit
MyNSA.org. The Foundation pages are under the "About NSA"
section. Thank you for your support!
Rebecca Morgan, CSP, CMC, chaired the NSA Foundation
Research Committee for two years and initiated the research described in this article.
Professionally she provides measurable results
to corporate clients, as well as co-publishes
SpeakerNet News. You can reach her at