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Diane Barrera, MPH, RD, director of profes- sional development at he American Dietetic Association (ADA), selects, hires and manages speakers
for a variety of ADA events. She works
with approximately 20 keynote speakers
and many others throughout the year.
Barrera shared her experiences—and
some food for thought—with Pamela
Jett, CSP, Speaker magazine editorial
board chair, about working alongside
from trusted colleagues, or others who
have seen the speaker in action. It’s
also important to have conversations
with speakers, even if they are working
through a bureau, to determine if there
is a fit. I only work with speakers who
will customize content for our events.
How do speakers
sabotage their chances?
If I contact potential speakers, it means
that I’ve already done some homework
and we are interested. But I may not
be making decisions about a particular
event as quickly as speakers would like.
Speakers should respect my time and
decision-making process. I may think
twice about working with a speaker
who follows up too aggressively.
What makes a presentation a hit?
Education is my first priority. Our
members come to events to learn, so I
like working with speakers who provide
relevant information and help our
members put it into practice. I prefer
high-content speakers who emphasize
application. Sessions with great action
items always are a hit.
Pamela Jett, CSP:
How do you select speakers?
Diane Barrera: We plan our speakers
well in advance ( 12 to 18 months), and
the selection process focuses on the strategic plan for a particular event. I will
work with the association president, the
board of directors and other key people
for each educational event to determine its focus or strategic vision. I also
take speaker recommendations at that
time. Then, I do my research and look
at speakers whom I’ve worked with in
the past who might be a great fit. I share
my top picks with the board or other
decision makers, and we jointly decide
which speaker can help us best achieve
our educational objectives.
Do you rehire speakers
who are a hit?
Absolutely! I also field requests regularly
from others who want to hire speakers,
and I will always recommend a top-notch speaker. It’s a win for everyone!
Should speakers cold call you?
I am always open to new talent. The
most respectful and effective way to
contact me is via e-mail. If a speaker
contacts me and I am intrigued, I have a
system for organizing that information.
How can speakers
get on your “short list”?
A speaker must align with a meeting’s
strategic plan. I can determine that by
watching a top-notch video. I also place
tremendous value on recommendations
What makes it easy
to work with a speaker?
I like having a designated point of
contact, whether it’s the speaker or a
staff member. I also like working with
people who respect the terms of the contract. I am very thorough and cover as
many details as possible at the contract
stage. Last-minute changes (especially
room setup and tech changes) can cost
time and money. I want to set up the
speaker for success, and I use the contract to make that happen.
Diane Moore Barrera, MPH, RD, has been in nonprofit association management for more than 10 years. She is responsible for the American Deatetic Association’s
continuing education and professional development activities across all program areas through
the Center for Professional Development, Food
& Nutrition Conference & Expo (annual
meeting), Leadership Institute, online learning,
teleseminars and workshops.
As a keynote speaker, breakout session leader and training provider, Pamela Jett, CSP, offers unique programs that are power-packed with
practical application and real-life techniques.
She is the author of several video and audio
programs, including Communicate with
Confidence: A Woman’s Guide and Mind
Your Own Business: A Career Management
System. Visit www.JettCT.com.