Meetings Pro Tip: Get Your Speaker Back On Track

Setting standards for your speakers ahead of time can help to ensure that they meet the expectations of the event—and potentially, limit gaffes.

Maybe your keynoter gets long-winded, and doesn’t go off the stage at the time they’re supposed to. Maybe they decide to go, um, free-form.

Whatever the situation is, it’s your association’s problem—and you need to do anything within your power to avoid it. And rather than being stuck responding to an issue, that might mean doing a bit of legwork ahead of time.

What’s the Solution?

When trying to avoid a speaker gaffe at your event, the best strategy is to know what you’re looking for ahead of time—and then to make sure that’s what you’re really getting, as Jaki Baskow, the founder of Las Vegas Speakers Bureau and Baskow Talent, explained to Skift Meetings.

“It’s rare when you can see a speaker live, but ask them for videos of complete presentations, not just clips,” Baskow told the outlet. “Viewing one or two complete speeches will give you an accurate assessment of how a speaker presents themselves before a live audience and how their content comes across.”

Baskow also suggests talking to the speaker ahead of the meeting and getting them to commit to doing something that meets the goals of the event. To put it another way—don’t get caught off guard when it matters.

What’s the Backup Plan?

Even if your speaker is a total dynamo, something can always go wrong, and you need to plan for defusing the situation.

When the issue is safety, that might go so far as a potential shutdown. But what if you’re just trying to manage a long-winded panelist?

In that case, it might help to lean on a host or primary speaker for your event or session. As Harvard Business Review notes, this is the role a panel moderator often plays:

The moderator’s sacred responsibility is not to assuage panelists’ egos; it’s to stand as an advocate for the audience, asking the questions they wish they could and ensuring a thoughtful discussion. You want to keep the panel from turning into a platform for someone’s bloviation. If the event organizers had wanted that person to monologue, they would have given them a keynote. Instead, they put them on a panel in order to get their perspective as part of a group conversation, and you’ve been chosen to uphold that intention.

Sometimes, you need a referee to help manage things on the stage.

(Motortion/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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