How to Get the Gig and Make Sure Meeting Planners Keep Calling for More

By Jill Schiefelbein, The Dynamic Communicator®

Saturday morning at NSA’s Winter Conference 2018 took attendees on a journey through the multiple stages of speaking.

From learning what to do when a lead comes in, to the right questions to ask to get the contract, to what we can do as speakers to extend our value beyond the stage to enhance the attendee experience and increase ROI, the audience walked away with a better understanding of how to elevate professionalism in the speaking profession to a new level.

Phil Jones, author of Exactly What to Say, opened up the morning session by giving attendees a lesson on picking up the phone, having a conversation, and developing a relationship with the buyer. When a lead comes in the door, it’s almost always through a digital channel. But your first response shouldn’t be.

Instead of responding to the email or web contact form, pick up the phone. And when you are talking to your buyer, before you ever mention your fee or availability, ask these four questions.

  1. Why do you feel that I’m a good fit for your event?
    By asking this question you’re getting direct data that will tell you not only why your buyer thinks you’re a good fit, but it also tells you exactly what they’re looking for.
  2. What is your experience working with a paid professional speaker in the past?
    The response to this question tells you information that will allow you to cater the conversation depending on the buyer’s experience.
  3. Tell me about your event?
    Learning how the buyer views the event, the people who will be in attendance, the structure, and other relevant information can help you better craft your program to the event needs.
  4. If you can say one thing you want your audience to walk away with after my session, what would it be—what’s the most important outcome?
    This tells you the most important thing on the mind of the buyer—what they’re responsible for delivering as a result of the event, and how you can best cater your content to fit their needs.

By asking these four questions, now you have the knowledge to develop a relationship, based on questions, with evidence.

Enter Sarah Michel, CSP, and the powerhouse panel of experienced meeting professionals, consisting of Letty Kluttz, Director of Conference Development and Programming, SHRM, Danielle Cote, VP, Event Marketing, Sage, and Peter O’Neil, CEO, ASIS International.

“Speakers are the backbone of an event,” said Kluttz, who added that surveys of attendees year-after-year show that the educational experience is why people keep coming to events.

But providing a workshop or keynote is no longer enough for speakers to really stand out. Nor is it what will create sustainable ROI for attendees. Cote suggests being proactive and adding into your engagement activities that are accessible to attendees—such as meet and greets, lunch and learns, or mentoring.

“We want to create moments where attendees can participate in mentorship,” Cote said, “moments for attendees to connect with speakers who provide the personal, relevant, contextual, and empathetic voice that they’re coming to get. It’s the reason attendees come to in person events.”

When we think about the future of the speaking profession, many worry that the market will dry up. That the demand for speakers will decrease. But O’Neil stresses that the annual meeting is not dead, but it is different. And as professional speakers we need to know how to better help our clients get, according to O’Neil, “heads in beds and butts in seats.”

To do this, speakers must ask themselves how they can add to the attendee acquisition strategy for the event producers. Events are now augmented by social media, livestreaming, and a host of other parts that compliment and supplement the live experience of the event—to bring the event experience that is in the room, outside of the room. To incite FOMO—the fear of missing out—in people who did not attend, so that they don’t miss the opportunity again.

Speaking of FOMO, do you have it yet? Sure, you got this article summary. But imagine what your experience could’ve been like if you were here in person?! To increase your FOMO for this event, follow the hashtag #NSA18 on all social media platforms to see what’s going on. And to make sure you don’t miss out on an opportunity like this again, be sure to check out #Influence18, the largest gathering of professional speakers, July 14-17th in Dallas, Texas. Yours truly just happens to be the co-chair for the event, and I promise you, you won’t want to miss it. Learn more and register today at

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