by Shawna Suckow, CMP
• Negotiate a win-win with speakers
• Finding the best speakers for your events
Psst…! Do you want to know a few insider secrets about speakers, and how you can negotiate a win-win with them?
After being a planner for more than 20 years, I’ve now completed my transition to full-time speaker. What a wild ride that’s been! Eight years ago, I would’ve rather swallowed shards of glass than speak in front of a group. I was forced into it when I founded SPIN (www.spinplanners.com), and the more I did it, the easier it got, the better I became, and the more I looked forward to it.
For starters, uncover your next great conference speaker:
• Ask your most recent speakers for recommendations. After they’ve experienced your conference and your audience, they’re well equipped to recommend who would be a good fit the following year. Much like the meetings industry, the speaking industry is a small world, and many of us have heard our speaker colleagues do their thing at other conferences. We can steer you away from the bad, and help you uncover the gems. We also often know the range other speakers charge, so we can recommend within your price range.
• Ask other planners, volunteers, and board members.
• Post a Call for Speakers on your website.
• Check out eSpeakers.com – the world’s largest database of professional speakers, searchable by topic, geography, fee range, and dozens of other factors. You also can list an open call for speakers if you prefer. There’s no fee to the planner. Like traditional speaker bureaus, eSpeakers charges the speaker a percentage of the fee when you book them.
Do you ever wonder how you can get the most out of your speakers? Most speakers I know are willing to do more than planners ever ask them to do. Of course, it’s best to do the asking before an agreement is finalized.
More ways speakers can add value to your program:
• Create a video promo for your event. They should be happy to do this, because it not only promotes your event, but gets their name out to your audience.
• Write a blog before and/or after the event. Again, extra exposure for both of you!
• Create a preview webinar to entice attendees to register. I’ve recorded a free 60-minute webinar that was offered free to anyone who registered by a particular date. I’ve also done a 20-minute preview webinar to give prospective registrants a taste of what they can expect from the event.
• Attend a VIP breakfast or reception onsite. They will love this, because they’re meeting all YOUR movers and shakers!
• Do a book signing in a sponsor’s booth. You can charge an exhibitor extra for this traffic builder!
• Give bulk discount on their books, and autograph them. These can be used as a gift with early registration, given away as prizes, or as an onsite gift to certain (or all) participants.
• Tweet, post, and share on their social media channels and in their newsletter with your registration link. They should be excited about this, because they get to tout an upcoming speaking engagement to their followers and customers.
• Ask a keynote speaker to do a breakout session as well, to maximize their presence and your investment.
Negotiate better deals with speakers with these offers:
• Speakers value professionally-shot video of themselves. They’re constantly seeking new footage to update their sizzle reels. If you’ll have a videographer at your event, make sure your speaker is aware. If you have a beautiful main stage, offer your breakout session speakers a chance to be filmed speaking from it (Best when the room is empty, during times the room isn’t being used for something else. Avoid load-in, or set-up times because you need a quiet room for audio recording). Your keynote will expect a copy of the footage, but breakout session speakers will see this as an added benefit.
• Offer them an invitation to your VIP meet & greet.
• Offer to do video or written testimonials for them after the event, provided you are happy with their performance.
• Offer to recommend them to three planner colleagues after your conference (again, only if you’re happy with their sessions).
• Do you have a newsletter throughout the year? Offer them an interview, or an ad.
• If you have exhibit space at your conference, offer them a booth.
• Can you feature their book in your online or onsite bookstore? Can you offer a Speaker’s Corner where each speaker gets time to showcase their materials, answer questions from participants, and sell books? Make sure you promote this in your app or
• Speakers will often discount if you book them for two or more conferences at once.
• Offer them the ability to do a pre- or post-conference seminar on their own, using one of your breakout rooms and existing A/V. They provide unique content and charge whatever they want. You promote it to your group, the speaker makes extra money from this extra session, which supplements (or surpasses!) any discount they give you on their fee. I do this all the time when I speak for non-profits who can’t afford my whole fee, and most of the time I come out ahead. It’s a win-win for the group and the speaker.
Just like negotiating with a hotel, you never know what additional benefits a speaker may have to offer unless you ask!
Shawna Suckow, CMP, is the founder of SPIN: Senior Professionals Industry Network – the world’s largest association for hospitality planners and suppliers with 10+ years’ experience (www.spinplanners.com). Today, she speaks all over the world, helping planners orchestrate more engaging meetings, and helping hospitality suppliers understand how to market and sell more effectively to tough buyers. www.shawnasuckow.com