THE TRANSITIONING SPEAKER
Making the leap to full-time speaking
When you’re transitioning from a full-time job to a full-time speaking ca- reer, there are some tips that will accelerate your
learning curve. A key piece of advice is
to know your audience, especially the
all-important audience of one: the
Successful speakers know the key
to effective communication is knowing
their audiences: who they are, what
they want and what they need. But
really successful speakers realize that,
in addition to the group of people
gathered to hear them, there is someone who is too busy to even be in the
room during their presentation. They
know they need to communicate with
and serve the meeting planner who
had the faith to hire them and put
them on the speaking agenda.
Event planners have many details
to deal with on the day of the program.
Speakers who are responsive and
responsible to the planner can set
themselves apart and make a friend
for life by following these tips:
• Respond quickly and thoroughly to
emails and phone call requests for
items, such as your bio for the pro-
gram, headshot and any other details
the planner needs. In addition to
coordinating your session, the plan-
ner is dealing with venues, caterers,
audio-video folks, leadership, and
trying to make sure the room is full.
• Call or text your planner as soon as
you arrive in town or at the venue.
This is one less thing the planner
must worry about.
• Hope for the best, but plan for the
worst. If you use slides or videos, be
sure to have a back-up plan. Stuff
happens, even with a pre-event tech
check. Power goes out, remotes
don’t work and cords disappear. You
must be able to present a great program without the bells and whistles,
so have a printed outline with you if
you use your slides as cues.
• Send your written introduction
twice to your planner—a week
ahead of time and the day before.
Then, bring a printed copy with a
16-point font with you. Make sure
you meet the person introducing
you and ask if he or she has a copy
of your introduction.
• Arrive early and be low maintenance. Be prepared. Do an outstanding job. Even if the planner was not
able to be in the room to hear you
speak, you want him or her to hear
about you and receive kudos for
• Send a handwritten thank-you note.
It’s a rare thing nowadays for someone to take the time to write a personal note. If you don’t like your
handwriting, then print. But send a
thank-you quickly and be sure to
include anything special the organization or the planner did to make
your experience special.
Event planners take a risk when they
book new speakers or someone they
have never heard speak. Their reputation may be in your hands. Do your
homework, know your audience, and
make that planner a hero for being
smart enough to hire you.
Breeda Miller is a strategic
event planner with over 30
years of experience. She
speaks about the keys to suc-
cessful event planning and
how to deal with stresses and challenges
with a sense of humor. Miller is president-
elect of NSA-Michigan. Reach her at
How to Impress an audience of One