IT'S TIME TO MEET THE REAL CONFERENCE SUPERHEROES
To design, create and pull off a great conference takes the agility of Wonder Woman, the vision of Superman and the strength of the Hulk (to name just three).
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been compelled to put finger to keyboard to reveal the real superheroes within the speaking profession…….the event planners. Whether they be an external company or the internal team, they have my complete admiration for what they do and achieve. Yes the speakers can steal the headlines on twitter but without the event planner we are nothing. Oh and there’s two things you the delegate can do to really help, but I’ll reveal that later.
Now lets look at a potential checklist of what has to be done by an event planner (and I know there will be another hundred items, but lets make a start).
Venues (choosing them to make them accessible and memorable), Hotels (see venues), AV crew (local or fly them in?), Gala Dinners (choosing the menus to suit every palate), Awards (who gets them and in which order, we don’t want another Oscars on our hands), Speakers Bureaus (selection and negotiation), Speaker Selection (Skype calls, timings, content, slides in advance 4:3 / 16:9 keynote, powerpoint), Photographer, Videographer (and approving the final edit), Breaks, Refreshments, Theme, Branding For The Theme, Evening Entertainment, Sponsors, Exhibition Stands, Access, Transport (airport transfers, evening entertainment, field trips during the day), Freebie Giveaways, Goody Bags, Welcome Letters, Programme Brochure, Seating Plans, Music (background and walk-on) honestly the list is endless.
I’ve decided not to name names in this article as I don’t want to single anyone out but its fair to say I am talking about every event planner I’ve ever worked with over the last 8 years. However, my recent 3 scenarios may give you an insight into the behind the scenes workings of just what it takes to put on a successful event.
Barcelona. I recently I had the honour of speaking for Xerox in Barcelona at a wonderful 3 day conference. Hundreds of delegates came from all over Europe. But two things really stood out. A pair of oversized headphones and Cava World (its not called Cava World but I think it should be lol). The lady beside me orchestrated every minute of the main auditorium from the front table. I was sat there the whole time and what the audience were unaware of was her comms (using the headphones) with the AV team behind the screen and at the back of the room – keeping the sound, visuals and everything running like a Swiss clock! Tiny adjustments to every detail made it all appear seamless. On both evenings all of the guests and partners were treated to a memorable occasion in particular the home of Cava sparking wine! Amazing food, Spanish singers etc all make up the experience that will be talked about for years to come.
Dubai. Brisbane. Cape Town. Last year I worked with another super’events’hero from Centrepoint Alliance. This time from down under. Now if organising a conference in a country 2 hours away is a challenge, imagine having to organise a conference for hundreds of Australian delegates who will fly half way around the world to stay in Dubai for 5 days! All of the above scenarios come into force but now add into the mix huge time zones and cultural differences. This was another wonderful highlight of my international speaking travels and guess what… we are doing it all over again in Cape Town this October. The big observation for me is the countries and venues for the next conference have already been decided and signed off. In fact the closing slides or videos of the current conference are already promoting the 2018 conference. Now that is superhero planning.
The Viking Tour. The final example takes us to Billund, Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen and Helsinki in Scandinavia. In just two weeks I spoke in 4 separate countries. Yes you read that correctly – 2 weeks. One event overseas in the same continent is tough. One event in another content is tougher still, but 5 events in 4 countries in 2 weeks! This is the final event that prompted this post. Without repeating myself from the above I’ll just say the GateRetail Conference was unbelievable.
I tip my hat and raise a glass to these superheroes, the ones that are never in the spotlight, but they are the ones that make your conference shine.
Oh and here are the two very simple things you can do to help
1. Be quick to praise.
2. Be slow to criticise. (Sometimes your hotel room isn’t ready for another hour, and sometimes there won’t be enough gluten free stuff at the buffet. But just keep these little details to yourself)
Looking forward to seeing another bat signal soon and rushing to help add value at a venue somewhere around the world.
Getting The Most Out of Your Speaker…
A salvo of ideas for you to consider
5. Social Media: to create a buzz in advance of your event, ask your speaker to regularly send out promotional tweets, instragram pics or linkedin and facebook updates.
4. Pre Event Video: to help boost bookings or to enthuse internal team members, simply ask the speaker to produce a short 90 second video of who they are, what they’ll talk about and most importantly what everyone will take away with them.
3. Post Event Video: grab your phone or video crew and capture the speakers’ thoughts after their talk. Ask them to highlight the key messages and their thoughts of the conference.
2. Tic Toc: Ask for time…The great speakers will allow as much time as possible before and after their speech to mix and mingle with the delegates, answering questions and possibly generating ideas for people too.
1. Who’s next? You may already have your eye on next years’ event and you’ll probably re-connect with the bureau or agent. But you should also ask your speaker who they would recommend and why. We’ve all sat through hundreds of talks and based on their time with you and your industry the speaker will give you one or two brilliant people to consider for next year.
Wishing you every success, Geoff Ramm, Creator and Author of Celebrity Service & OMG Marketing
See keynotes with Geoff Ramm
Interview with Geoff Ramm
What is the message you hope people take away from your presentations?
To bring creativity into every aspect of your marketing whether it be customer service, promotion or using the great outdoors. If you are different, you stand out, and when you stand out you will always be remembered!
What is the feeling you would like people to take away?
Inspired is such an overused word but I am afraid I will have to use it just one more time. From the feedback I receive people tell me they feel ‘inspired’, ‘energised’ and ‘excited’ about creating new and different marketing ideas for their business.
How do you prepare for speaking engagements?
I always try to obtain as much information as possible from the client about the audience through phone calls, emails and if possible a visit. I also request information about the venue so I can prepare to deliver whatever the room or layout. I also like to include Observational Marketing stories and techniques specific to that audience so they can connect with the messages during the keynote or master class.
What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?
For me it is about the great satisfaction of knowing you have been able to help the audience with ideas and techniques. It is hugely satisfying to hear from members of the audience over the subsequent days, weeks and months to understand how they have implemented these ideas and have seen their business grow.
How much does humor factor into your keynotes and other speaking engagements?
It certainly plays a part in everything I do. I have always believed that delegates have invested a lot of time and money to come and hear a speaker and therefore I want it to be memorable for them, by making it different and hopefully humorous at times.
Can you briefly describe the concept of Observational Marketing?
Observational Marketing is a technique that will breathe hundreds of new ideas into your business. How many times will you see a great slogan, a brilliant advert, or experience fantastic service? 99% of the time you will acknowledge it, smile, or even comment, but that’s it…..you do nothing more about it. Quite simply, all you need to do is observe both the positive and negative aspects of marketing. For example, the promotional signage that stops you in your path, the radio advert that makes you reach to increase the volume, or the customer service that makes you feel warm inside.
Once you have been surprised or delighted by that particular piece of marketing – you MUST write it down. In fact, write down ALL of the ideas that made you happy, delighted or surprised. Then see how you can adapt and tweak those methods into your own marketing. I am consistently adding to my keynotes every week and currently have over 600 examples of great pieces of observational marketing.
Observational Marketing is creative and most of all very powerful! For example; an observation came from a sales question which I was asked in a famous toy shop in London last year. The result of this observation made me change my proposals which I send to clients and the result has been a 20% increase in success rate!!!!
How are your keynote presentations unique?
All of my keynotes and master classes are designed using real life examples. Each one is tailored to the audience plus they can win gifts and prizes with interactive brand challenges.
For me a successful presentation is when the audience walks away with a smile on their face, prizes in their hands and new ideas in their pockets!!!
Do you have any unique memorable moments in your speaking career?
In 2009 I was voted Best Speaker at the First World Advertising Forum in Tehran by 2,000 businesses and entrepreneurs. In 2010 I was again voted best speaker at the Marketing Creativity Conference in Yazd City. And in November 2011 I was again voted Best Speaker in Yazd and the World Advertising Forum 3 event in Tehran, Iran.
How do you motivate sales people to do better?
This is a really good question. Passion and enthusiasm are infectious and I deliver this from the stage to help motivate not just sales people but every entrepreneur in the room.