• Seemless transfer of duties when a speaker has to cancel
• Know your attendees and options
• Speakers Bureaus are an asset
Midwest Meetings asked the question, ‘What did you do when your speaker/entertainment was a no-show or had to cancel last minute?’ We received some great comments:
Anne Kagay-Lidster, MARCQI - Dept. of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
“When the guest speaker had to cancel at the last minute due to family member illness, we had to substitute with others who were attending the meeting to present an open-forum discussion.”
Charlotte Calandro, Evans & Dixon, LLC,
St. Louis, MO
“We were in Jamaica for a rewards trip with 140 people, we grabbed the fitness instructor for the resort and cranked up the music for a limbo contest with prizes! That broke the ice and led to dancing in the sand on our own private beach area!”
“I have to say I was never so happy that I had used a Speakers Bureau to hire the original speaker because the Speakers Bureau found me three back-up presenters that were available and willing to speak at our convention for the same price as the speaker we had originally hired. The speaker I chose out of the three was absolutely amazing and our members were very pleased. I got lots of pats on the back so it was a ‘win/win’ situation. The moral of the story is that I will never hire a speaker on my own again, I will always use a Speakers Bureau!”
Karen Vaughn, Conference & Special Events Coordinator, EducationPlus, Hazelwood, MO explained how they presented a new keynote speaker to their group.
“Our METC Conference (Midwest Education Technology Community) is held every year in February. Each year we are not sure how the weather will affect our presenters and participants and their travel to the conference. You also never know if something unforeseen will happen and a presenter is unable to attend. This is a large conference of 2,100+ people and as meeting planners we always need to be prepared for every possible situation.
Whenever an issue arises you handle them quickly and efficiently. One year, our keynote presenter was unable to attend the conference due to special circumstances. The METC Conference is a large conference with a lot of different components and because of this we were able to handle this issue with ease. We have several presenters that are national presenters and we looked at which one might be able to present a keynote for us. We then went and asked them to fill in for the absent presenter. After they accepted the opportunity, we needed to inform the participants.
Our conferences have a mobile app and this is one of the ways that we push out the information to our participants. We updated the information on the app and pushed out the information on the new keynote presenter. We also had our staff and conference committee tweet about the change in the keynote lineup. Then we announced it in the morning welcome/announcements.
While this is not something that you want to deal with at every conference, it is always important to be prepared to handle anything. The goal for our conference is that it is a successful event while being a fun learning environment for our participants, presenters, and vendors.”
Angela Cox of Midwest Speakers Bureau in Des Moines, IA lent us some of her professional advice on the topic.
“At Midwest Speakers Bureau we walk them [planners] through the entire process of hiring a speaker, whether they are new to the experience or have been planning for years,” explained Cox. “There are so many speakers out there…we research speakers to help everyone regardless of budget.” Whether you are looking for a two-hour keynote speaker or an HR trainer, Cox and others in her position are able to help. “Once the speaker is booked they are put in contact with the client, but we help with the entire process and create a speaker itinerary a month prior to the event. We verify all details; contract, date, and time for the event with the speaker and the planner. We also help promote the speaker with short video clips that help planners create some buzz before the big day.”
1. The more details you have about the event and type of speaker you are looking for the better.
c. Budget range
d. Type of group being presented to
e. Topics of interest
f. Time and Type of presentation, including length (welcome, keynote, dinner,
2. Really consider the end result you want from your speaker (motivational, learning, etc.).
3. Even if you are unable to commit to a date, still book a speaker as far in advance as possible to have the most variety available to you to choose from.
When asked about last minute cancellations, Cox spoke of a few solutions Midwest Speakers Bureau has utilized, “This sort of thing happens more in the winter when flights can be delayed but it doesn’t happen often. We try to find someone within a few hours drive or someone local to fill in, but some speakers will arrange their own replacements if they know they will be unable to attend last minute. Sometimes we are able to pull speakers from other conferences that we can book around their already existing schedule, but knowing where our resources are helps a lot.”
For more tips, see what the professionals of GigSalad say at bit.ly/SuccessfulSpeakerEngagement.