Category Archives: Joe Heaps

Cutting Edge Technologies All Meeting Planners Must Embrace

By Joe Heaps & Dave ReedJoe Heaps and Dave Reed

When you ask most meeting planners what kind of technology they typically utilize at their events, they’ll reply with things like “using a big screen for main stage events” or “PowerPoint projectors for every breakout session.” Those things are important, but they are just the tip of the iceberg for meeting planner technology.

Unfortunately, many meeting planners (aside from those who specialize in the tech industry) shy away from technology. They may be familiar with some of the new technologies available, but they don’t utilize them consistently and end up missing out on important opportunities. If you don’t embrace and use technology in every event you plan, your attendees will notice and will find ways to use the technology without you. Therefore, the sooner you embrace your technological options, the better all your events will be.

Listed below are a few of the technologies to consider using as you plan your next event. Some are best when used before the event to help you prepare so everything comes together smoothly, and others are designed to be used during the event.

3 PRE-Event Technologies to Consider

  • Interact with your speakers in a Google Hangout. Communication with the speaker(s) about the event’s goals is critical. Good speakers will tailor their message to meet your needs. But rather than just communicate with your speakers via phone and email, interact with them before the event (and even have them interact with each other) to ensure everyone understands the meeting’s goals. With a tool like Google Hangout, you can have up to ten people on a video conference. Use this to build rapport between the speakers and the entire event team so your conference projects a truly unified and cohesive image to the attendees.
  • Use social media to promote the event. Tweet about the upcoming meeting on Twitter and add status updates about it to Facebook and Linked In. Additionally, ask your speakers to provide a pre-event video where they talk to the attendees about the upcoming event and what to expect from their session or keynote. Post these videos all over your social media to generate publicity and encourage more people to register.
  • Make your event materials mobile friendly. Stop handing out printed event materials! Instead, make your program and handouts available online as a PDF download. This enables attendees to have all the materials available on their tablet or smart phone, and they don’t have to worry about losing pieces of paper. Also, create a mobile app for your event that includes access to all the meeting’s handouts. It’s easier and less expensive than you think!

5 DURING-Event Technologies

  • Internet access is a must! Many hotels offer free internet access in the lobby or in the guest rooms, but they don’t offer it for free in the conference areas. As a result, many meeting planners decide not to offer internet access, believing it’s not necessary. Big mistake! If your attendees can’t access the internet, post a tweet, or even check their email, they’ll leave the conference area to do so…and they may not return. If the hotel is going to charge you for internet access in the conference area, then find a sponsor to pay for it. Remember, a great event starts with attendees being able to have access to their lives via email, web, and social media.
  • Video Conferencing/Webcasting can expand your reach. Sometimes people want to attend your event but they can’t for various reasons. Rather than lose their registration, why not have them attend the meeting virtually? They’d still pay a registration fee, but they’d attend via a service like Telenect or Webex. You could also use these technologies to forgo the physical meeting and conduct the entire event virtually.
  • Garner audience participation by implementing an audience response system (ARS). Keeping the audience awake during presentations is one thing, but getting the audience to participate is a whole different ball game. Encourage your speakers to go beyond using the old “raise your hand” or “talk to the person sitting next to you” participation techniques. Instead, have them create a conversation with attendees by using some sort of audience response system (ARS). The best known ARS is the voting keypad, such as what’s available with Turning Technologies. There are also some emerging new apps like Join Speaker that don’t require a special device. Rather, the attendees use their smart phone or tablet to interact. Turning passive audience members into active participants is key since it creates value for the attendees and for the conference. Simply put: it increases the ROI.
  • Encourage attendees to use Twitter during the meetings. Create several Twitter hashtags—one general one that applies to the industry or organization, as well as individual ones that are specific to each presentation, breakout session, or keynote. A hashtag is simply the hash (#) symbol followed by a word or acronym used to group related tweets. Make these hashtags known and encourage attendees to use Twitter for their note taking (utilizing the hashtags as they tweet). Since Twitter only allows 140 characters per tweet, people will need to concisely summarize the content, which is actually a benefit. According to researchers, summarization helps boost retention. Even people who don’t use Twitter can post tweets and follow the conversation using a tool like Twubs. This tool also enables you to moderate the posts and do live event streaming.
  • Keep smart phones on to promote texting. Rather than ask attendees to power off their smart phone, encourage them to leave it on and text the presenter as he or she is speaking. This will dramatically increase audience participation. For example, leadership expert Cheryl Cran asks her audiences to text her messages while she delivers her content. Audience members then text her questions and she answers them throughout her keynote and training events. This approach takes away the fear attendees may have of publicly asking a question.

Power Up Your Meetings: To create a successful event—one that encourages conversations and interactions between event organizers, speakers, and attendees—you must use technology. Whatever technology you choose to implement, take the time to prepare by knowing your audience and your expected event outcomes. Then, choose the technology that will help you reach your objectives.

Remember, the ultimate goal of each meeting is to influence your participants. Therefore, don’t use technology simply because it’s exciting or cool. Use it wisely, based on your objectives, and make sure it’s part of your long-term strategy. When used correctly, technology will enhance your event, making both you and your organization successful.

Joe Heaps and Dave Reed own eSpeakers.com, a 14-year-old technology and marketing company providing the speaking industry with the tools to do business online. Their newest product, eSpeakers Marketplace, launches summer 2013 and will be the largest directory of professional presenters available online. With real-time availability, verified reviews, online contracts and digital payment, putting the right speaker in front of your audience will be easy and safe. eSpeakers believes in helping meeting planners find the right speaker, with the right message… every time. For more information on eSpeakers Marketplace, contact Joe Heaps at jheaps@espeakers.com, 888-377-3214, or visit www.espeakers.com.

An Expert Who Speaks or an Expert Speaker – Which is Best for Your Next Event?

By Joe Heaps & Dave ReedJoe Heaps and Dave Reed

When you need to bring in a speaker for your company or association event, you have two choices on the kind of presenter to hire: An expert who speaks or an expert speaker. While those two terms may seem similar, there’s actually a big difference.

An expert who speaks has real-life experience in relation to their topic. Because of this insider knowledge, they can confidently say, “I’ve done this and I’ll show you how to do it too.” In contrast, an expert speaker may have done research on their topic and may have a lot of book smarts, but they can’t offer a personal perspective. Even though the expert speaker is knowledgeable and perhaps eloquent, their main focus is “I’ve read about this.”

In most cases, hiring an expert who speaks is preferable to hiring an expert speaker because an expert who speaks will add power and focus to the event as they share their real-life experiences and compelling content. Additionally, because they’re so personally involved in their topic, they often stay-up-to-date on the current research, which means your attendees will get the best advice possible.

Since hiring the wrong speaker can cripple your event, here are a few steps to take to ensure you make the best decision possible.

Check the speaker’s background. Look for industry experience in the speaker’s bio. What did they do (or what are they still doing) in their life aside from speaking? For example, corporate speaker Scott McKain runs several multi-million dollar companies outside of his speaking business. So when he gives advice on how to grow an organization, people know that he speaks from experience—not from a textbook. If specific experience isn’t apparent in the speaker’s bio, don’t be afraid to ask a candidate specific questions about how they came to be an expert in the areas on which they speak. A true expert loves to share why they know so much. In fact, you’ll have a hard time getting them to stop talking!

Listen to the speaker’s stories. Watch a few of the speaker’s video clips or preview the candidate in person. Listen for stories where they share examples of things they were involved in, rather than only re-telling other’s stories. Experts who speak will include other’s research and experience in their material, but they will have a lot more of “my research shows…” and “When I did this…” Additionally, find out if the speaker has a compelling personal story. Many experts have a signature story or experience they share that has been polished to perfection and can help carry the message. This is not required to be an expert who speaks, but it’s a bonus.

Make sure the speaker goes beyond the “canned” presentation. An expert who speaks goes beyond what he or she thinks is relevant and focuses on what your audience deems relevant. So not only will the speaker get to know your attendees, but he or she will also tailor the presentation to your group’s needs. Unfortunately, many expert speakers don’t focus on the message the audience needs to hear. Rather, they give the same presentation to every group, regardless of the group’s dynamics or special circumstances. An expert who speaks may have some stock material, but he or she frames that material in a way that resonates with a particular audience.

Know what you really need. What kind of expertise are you looking for? Realize that the expertise you want from your speaker isn’t always technical or industry specific. For example, if you’re trying to get a group of banking professionals through a time of tough change, it may be better to bring in a change expert rather than a banking expert. Expertise in “change” can come from a variety of scenarios. Chad Hymas is a speaker who survived a horrific accident that left him a quadriplegic (talk about a major life change!). As a result, he has powerful insights on how to handle disruptive change and turn it into a positive. Often, you’ll find that the speaker’s personal life story can do as much to inspire your audience toward the goals of the meeting as the specific “how-to” oriented words they offer.

Don’t forget the “speak” part. Getting the world’s foremost expert in a particular topic could be a huge mistake if the speaker can’t deliver their knowledge in a way that engages your audience. Of course we’d all love to find the leading expert in the field who also happens to have incredible platform skills. But that’s a rare find. If you have to give something up, it’s usually safer to err in favor of speaking skills and give up some technical expertise. An engaging speaker with a little less technical knowledge is a better choice than someone with the deepest technical knowledge and a sleep-inducing delivery.

Your Expert is Waiting: Experts come in all flavors: Some speak, some are authors, some are CEOs or entrepreneurs, some have navigated a major life or business challenge, etc. However, just because someone calls him or herself an expert doesn’t mean that person is one. The title of “expert” is never self-proclaimed. Rather, it’s a descriptor bestowed on a person from outsiders. So always ask around and find out what others are really saying about a particular speaker you’re considering.

The expert who speaks that you want to hire will have good presentation and communication skills, provide compelling content, and share real-life experiences. When you make a conscious decision to hire an expert who speaks rather than an expert speaker, you’ll be bringing in someone who can engage your audience and carry the message with enough force to allow for real improvement in your attendees’ lives.

Joe Heaps and Dave Reed own eSpeakers.com, a 14-year-old technology and marketing company providing the speaking industry with the tools to do business online. Their newest product, eSpeakers Marketplace, launches summer 2013 and will be the largest directory of professional presenters available online. With real-time availability, verified reviews, online contracts and digital payment, putting the right speaker in front of your audience will be easy and safe. eSpeakers believes in helping meeting planners find the right speaker, with the right message… every time. For more information on eSpeakers Marketplace, contact Joe Heaps at jheaps@espeakers.com, 888-377-3214, or visit www.espeakers.com.

What Every Meeting Planner Must Know to Organize a Great Event

By Joe Heaps & Dave ReedJoe Heaps and Dave Reed

Whether you’re planning a large association’s annual conference or a smaller company’s quarterly sales meeting, you know how important it is to find the right speaker for your event. Sure, you can have a beautiful venue, great food, and an engaging theme, but your speaker sets the meeting’s tone. Hire a speaker who is a fit for your meeting and you can change the lives, thinking, or behavior of your attendees. Bring in the wrong speaker and your event will be lackluster at best.

The good news is that there are thousands of competent speakers eager to present to your audience. But therein lies the challenge for today’s meeting planners. How do you sift through the thousands of good speakers to find the one who’s the best match for your event? Following is a proven five-step process that will ensure you hire the right speaker for your next meeting.

1. Outline the content and goals for the event. During your pre-event planning meeting, as you decide the date, time, location, and theme of your event, make sure you and other stakeholders clearly define the desired content, goals, outcome of the meeting. Which groups of people will primarily be in attendance and what key messages do they want to hear? Why is the meeting being held? To educate? Motivate? Help attendees navigate a shift or industry change? Should the message be more inspirational or technical? And perhaps most important, what do you want your audience to feel, know, or think after this event? Make sure you get as detailed as possible during your planning phase, as that will help direct you to the best speaker.

2. Know your budget. Budget is a significant factor when choosing a speaker. So don’t even start your search until you know what you’re willing and able to pay. While many people think that only celebrity speakers ($30 thousand and up fee range) and high-fee speakers ($10 thousand and up fee range) have the experience to make an event successful, the fact is that there are many quality speakers with great content and delivery who charge significantly less. The key is to be honest about your budget so you don’t waste your time considering speakers you can’t afford.

3. Cast a large net. With your budget and desired content and goals in mind, it’s time to begin your search. All reputable speakers have web sites, and most have video samples on their site. Watch their demo videos or attend a local event if they’re speaking nearby, but don’t be too picky at this point. Don’t worry if you don’t like something about their delivery, if you think they’re too excitable, or if they seem to lack energy in their video clip. Remember that you’re seeing one snapshot of what they offer, so none of that is important yet. Simply make a list of six to ten speakers who appear to be good matches based on their topic expertise, their fee range, and their availability for your event date.

4. Start the narrowing process. With your pool of six to ten speakers in mind, you can begin narrowing your list. Now is the time to get nit-picky in your evaluation and elimination process. Compare each speaker to your stated goals for the event. Based on what you know about the speaker’s expertise, topic, and delivery style, can he/she deliver what you want? Also, check out the speaker’s social media networks to get a feel for how they interact with people and what their connections say about them. Finally, read verified reviews and testimonials about the speaker, but don’t rely solely on these reviews. No one is loved by all, and even the best speakers get some negative feedback at times.

5. Make your selection. At this point, two or three speakers will shine above the rest. To make the final decision, check a few references from each. Then, ask each speaker two important questions:

  • “Are you willing to provide our group with something extra in addition to the main presentation?” This extra could be coaching or consulting before or after the speaker’s presentation, a webinar or conference call for your participants, or anything else that would be of value for your attendees.
  • “Are you willing to offer a money-back guarantee if you fail to meet the stated goals for the presentation?” Many speakers are willing to offer a guarantee, and it tends to improve their performance when they have a little skin in the game. If you enact this option, be sure you outline in your contract the key goals you expect the speaker to deliver so there’s no discrepancy.

Analyze what the references say, as well as each speaker’s reply to your two final questions, and the speaker who will make your event a success will be clear. Hire that person right away!

The Right Speaker, Every Time: No matter what type of meeting you’re organizing, you need to hire a speaker who can deliver a message in a way that makes your attendees take action in some way. That’s a huge task to undertake, but it’s completely within your reach when you follow this simple five-step process. In fact, the more you use it, the easier your job will be, and all your events will be a resounding success.

Joe Heaps and Dave Reed own eSpeakers.com, a 14-year-old technology and marketing company providing the speaking industry with the tools to do business online. Their newest product, eSpeakers Marketplace, launches summer 2013 and will be the largest directory of professional presenters available online. With real-time availability, verified reviews, online contracts and digital payment, putting the right speaker in front of your audience will be easy and safe. eSpeakers believes in helping meeting planners find the right speaker, with the right message… every time. For more information on eSpeakers Marketplace, contact Joe Heaps at jheaps@espeakers.com, 888-377-3214, or visit www.espeakers.com.