JLA in the Press

A Brief Guide To Booking Guest Speakers
Posted on October 1, 2004

By Jeremy Lee
Consol Magazine

Sometimes when event organisers are asked to book a guest speaker, their first reaction is one of dread. It will take a significant slice of the budget, and besides, where on earth do you find the right speaker? If the request is for an entertainer, hasn’t everyone heard horror stories about celebrities going down the pan at corporate bashes?

The reality is that money can be wasted and disasters can happen, but only if you ignore the basic principles.

Consider what a well chosen business speaker can bring to your event. He (or she) will have an impartial view of how your business or industry fits in to the wider world, and he can pose awkward but very necessary questions. Are you meeting the pace of change? Are all your people onboard? Are you ready to meet the challenge of global competition?

Likewise, a powerful motivational speaker might have successfully led a team in the face of major obstacles. In hearing how he reach his goals, delegates can draw real inspiration and make useful parallels with the hurdles they meet in their own lives.

Above all, a seasoned external speaker will be able to communicate on the platform – unlike some of the senior team. They may be outstanding in their jobs and a real driving force in the organisation, but embarrassingly inarticulate when faced with row upon row of expectant delegates.

So how do you go about sourcing speakers who will add value and make a lasting impact? How do you sort the wheat from the chaff – and how much should you be paying for their services?

The first thing to do, as with most specialist requirements, is to find a reliable supplier: a speaker bureau or agency who understand your brief. Otherwise you risk ending up with a minor-league entrepreneur from a by gone era dishing up hackneyed management theories, or an end-of-the-pier after dinner speaker doing impressions of Michael Crawford doing Frank Spencer.

Brief the agency yourself; never delegate initial contact to someone who doesn’t have the full picture or who isn’t sufficiently familiar with the subject matter.

Once you have decided you definitely want to book a speaker, there are only four considerations to take into account: audience, objectives, venue and budget. The thing to ban from this list is personal taste – either your’s or anybody else’s.

Start by looking at the audience. Who are they? What level are they within the organisation or industry? What is the male/female ratio? Which parts of the country, or the world, do they come from? These are common sense questions, but they’re easy to overlook especially if someone, somewhere has a different agenda.

What about the objectives? Are you trying to encourage your people to sell more, embrace change and/or pull together more efficiently as a team? Do you want to peer into the future and open their eyes to new markets? Are you looking to get business partners excited in a new product?

Is the object of the exercise to impress existing clients, or to win new business? Do you want to recognise top achievers? Or do you simply want to reward hard work and provide an opportunity for everyone to let their hair down and have a good laugh – whilst ensuring that nobody is offended? If you never lose sight of the objectives, and communicate them clearly to the agency, you will both minimise the risks and maximise the value of a guest speaker.

Venue considerations are straightforward when it comes to choice of speaker, but they’re frequently forgotten. If you are planning to put 1000 delegates into an aircraft hangar of a space, and the keynote speaker is scheduled to appear in the graveyard slot after the lunch break, you must make sure he has the energy and presence to hold the attention of the back row.

Or perhaps you have been asked to arrange a client dinner for thirty in a private room in a smart restaurant. If somebody says let’s have a comedian, the sensible response is ‘no’. It won’t work. This audience is much more likely to smile than laugh out loud – they need a raconteur, not a gag merchant.

The final consideration is the most straightforward of all: money. Do not book the biggest name or the most expensive speaker you can afford. Ask yourself, do we really need a famous face?

If you want to flatter the audience and provide a so-called ‘wow factor’, or if the name will help ‘put bums on seats’, you probably do need the celebrity element; but if there’s a captive audience there’s no compelling reason to pay the premium any famous name commands.

The speaker circuit is teeming with lesser known but extremely talented and clever individuals who can provide a real highlight at your event. Just book the best person for the job.

Cook Speaks Out After Dinner
Posted on May 4, 2004

By Spy

Resigning from the Cabinet last year might have put an end to Robin Cook’s political ambitions, but it’s done his bank balance no end of good. The former foreign secretary has already added to his backbench salary of £57,485 another £450,000 from the publication and serialisation of his book, The Point of Departure.

Now, Spy hears, Cook is plunging into the lucrative after-dinner speaking circuit. He has signed up with JLA, the leading agency that has Alastair Campbell and William Hague on its books.

Potential clients shouldn’t expect stand-up comedy routines and Rory Bremner-style impersonations from the gingery Scotsman. “Robin still sees himself as a very serious speaker,” I’m told. “Rather than being amusing, like William Hague, he sees himself holding forth on Europe and other geo-political issues.”

Life Lines
Posted on March 21, 2004

By Sarah Rile

Where can you discuss the meaning of life, should you wish to, with ex-Tory leader William Hague, BBC pin-up correspondent Rageh Omaar and World Cup winning rugby player Matt Dawson? Or ponder the implications of living to be 100 with Baroness Susan Greenfield and Sir Christopher Meyer? Why, at The Observer/JLA Agenda Debate on 31 March at the British Museum, of course. Hurry to www.jla.co.uk to join the business leaders who already have their tickets.

Original article appears here

Articles

  1. 2017

    March

    January

  2. 2016

    October

    January

  3. 2015

    December

    June

    April

  4. 2014

    August

    June

    January

  5. 2013

    September

    May

    January

  6. 2012

    September

  7. 2011

    September

    June

  8. 2010

    December

    November

    August

    May

    April

    March

  9. 2009

    November

    June

    April

    March

    February

  10. 2008

    December

    November

    October

    September

    March

  11. 2007

    December

    August

    June

    April

  12. 2006

    December

    September

    February

  13. 2005

    October

    August

    June

    January

  14. 2004

    October

    May

    March

  15. 2003

    December

    October

    July

    April

  16. 2001

    April

    March

  17. 1996

    July