• Connecting Speakers with Audiences™

Event Planning

Toasting to Forever: A Guide to Delivering the Perfect Wedding Toast

Toasting to Forever: A Guide to Delivering the Perfect Wedding Toast 662 443 I Need A Speaker

By Tricia Richards-Service

It’s Valentine’s Day, and we couldn’t resist posting about love … and speeches.

If you’ve been given the honor of delivering a wedding toast, don’t let the nerves set in – we’ve got your back. Here are some guidelines to create a memorable and heartwarming moment for the newlyweds.

Start Strong: Open with a captivating line or a heartwarming anecdote that sets the tone for your toast. Grab everyone’s attention from the get-go, and you’ll have them hooked.

Know Your Audience: Tailor your speech to the crowd. While a sprinkle of humor is usually a hit, be mindful of inside jokes that might leave some guests feeling left out. Your toast should resonate with everyone present.

Be Concise, Clear, and Congenial: Keep it short and sweet. Aim for a toast that lasts around 3-5 minutes. Be clear in your words, ensuring that everyone can follow your narrative. And, of course, radiate positivity and warmth throughout.

Incorporate a Personal Touch: Share personal stories that highlight the couple’s journey. Whether it’s a funny escapade or a heartwarming moment, these personal touches make your toast unique and relatable.

Express Gratitude: Take a moment to express gratitude for being part of the celebration. Thank the couple for letting you share in their joy and acknowledge the love and support surrounding them.

Raise Your Glass with Purpose: As you raise your glass, choose words that resonate with the occasion. A simple “Cheers to love, laughter, and a lifetime of happiness” can be both timeless and heartfelt.

Practice, Practice, Practice: Rehearse your toast with a trusted friend. Pay attention to your tone, pacing, and gestures. Practice makes perfect, and familiarity with your material will boost your confidence.

Handle the Mic with Care: Speak clearly and confidently. Hold the microphone about 4-6 inches from your mouth, and be mindful of your pace. A steady and audible delivery ensures that your words reach every corner of the room.

Choose a Graceful Closing: Wrap up your toast with a graceful conclusion. A heartfelt wish for the couple’s future or a poetic line can leave a lasting impression.

Relax and Enjoy: Finally, take a deep breath, relax, and savor the moment. This is your time to shine and celebrate the love that brought everyone together.

With these tips, you’re ready to deliver a wedding toast that will be remembered for all the right reasons. Here’s to love, laughter, and a lifetime of thoughtful toasts! Cheers!

 

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12 Essential Questions Speakers Should Ask Event Planners

12 Essential Questions Speakers Should Ask Event Planners 318 228 I Need A Speaker

By Tricia Richards-Service

Are you gearing up to take the stage at an upcoming event? Whether you’re a seasoned speaker or new to the scene, thorough preparation is key to delivering a successful presentation. Central to this preparation is engaging with the event planner to gather vital details. Here’s a list of 12 essential questions every speaker should ask event planners:

  1. What are the event theme and presentation objectives? Understanding the core theme and objectives of the event enables you to tailor your content to resonate effectively with the audience and contribute meaningfully to the overarching goals.
  2. Who is the target audience, and what can you tell me about it? Insight into the demographic and psychographic profile of the audience (as needed) allows you to customize your message and delivery style to ensure maximum engagement and relevance.
  3. What is the expected duration of my presentation? Clarifying the allotted time for your presentation helps you structure your content appropriately, ensuring that you cover key points without exceeding time constraints.
  4. Who are the other speakers? Knowing the lineup of speakers enables you to complement their presentations seamlessly and avoid duplication of topics, fostering a cohesive event experience.
  5. What audiovisual equipment and support will be provided? Understanding the available AV equipment allows you to prepare and integrate visual aids effectively, ensuring a smooth and impactful presentation. Find out if a tech team member will be on hand to troubleshoot if necessary.
  6. Is there a preferred format for presentations (e.g., PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi)? Aligning your presentation format with the event’s preferences streamlines technical aspects and ensures compatibility with venue equipment.
  7. Are there specific topics or themes you’d like me to address? Incorporating suggested topics or themes demonstrates responsiveness to the event’s needs, enhancing the relevance and impact of your presentation.
  8. Will there be a Q&A session? Knowing whether a Q&A session is planned enables you to allocate time for audience interaction and prepare responses to potential inquiries.
  9. What should I expect in terms of compensation, travel and accommodation? Clarifying speaker fees, travel and accommodation arrangements ensures a smooth experience, minimizing challenges and allowing you to focus on your presentation. When you negotiate your booking, make note of special requests or needs, such as vegetarian meals, disability accommodations, and so on.
  10. What is the protocol for rehearsals or tech checks? Understanding rehearsal and sound check procedures helps you familiarize yourself with the venue and equipment, ensuring a polished performance on the day of the event.
  11. May I sell books, courses, or other merchandise? Requesting permission to sell merchandise such as books or courses allows you to capitalize on opportunities to engage with attendees beyond your presentation and generate additional revenue. Only plan to sell from the stage when you have written permission to do so.
  12. Should I plan for media interviews? When a topic is of popular interest or a speaker is especially well known, event planners will sometimes ask speakers to conduct media interviews, either before or after the presentation. Be sure you know the expectations, and prepare accordingly.

By posing these critical questions to event planners, you can establish clear expectations, tailor your presentation effectively, and ensure a seamless experience for both yourself and the organizers. Effective communication and collaboration with event planners lay the groundwork for a memorable and impactful presentation that resonates with the audience and achieves the event’s objectives.

 

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Situations Change. Deposits Shouldn’t.

Situations Change. Deposits Shouldn’t. 670 449 I Need A Speaker

By Tricia Richards-Service

Today I was talking with Sybil Stewart, a speaker, advocate, and TEDx organizer. We were discussing how important it is for speakers to charge a non-refundable deposit when being booked.

Experienced event planners and speakers, we know that situations change. Speaker rosters shift. Budgets shrink. Attendance may not be what was anticipated. And speaking engagements might be canceled as a result. We understand.

We also understand that the speaker had blocked off time which may not be scheduled with another client. In the worst case scenario, the speaker may have already completed the prep work.

As this is a relationship business, it’s important for both parties (speakers and planners) to feel comfortable and valued throughout the process.

Requesting a deposit will recover some of the income speakers may lose if an event is canceled or changed. The benefits go both ways. After a speaker is booked with a non-refundable deposit, that speaker is committed, even if another planner reaches out with a bigger budget. Win-win.

 

 

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Sometimes You’re Better off with More Than One

Sometimes You’re Better off with More Than One 650 508 I Need A Speaker

By Tricia Richards-Service

It’s true. Sometimes you’re better off with more than one. And it’s not just bowling pins, days off, or dollar bills.

There are times when event planners request one presentation when the audience might benefit more with two or three. Specifically, I’m thinking about anything that benefits from a follow-up session.

For example, a speaker is asked to address an employee audience about burnout mitigation. The employees might benefit from one presentation, but it would be so much more effective if the speaker offered techniques to handle stress, then checked in six weeks later. Or a personal finance expert talks to a group about setting up an emergency savings account. He or she could meet with the group a month later to hold people accountable, track progress, and move on to the next lesson. Another example is change management. One talk won’t guide an organization through a change, but four or six might help greatly.

These additional sessions work best in corporate and organizational/group settings. The speaker can capture a baseline status and return to the same participants to track progress.

Speakers and event planners, give thoughtful consideration when planning presentations with long-term lessons or behavioral shifts. You might have significantly greater impact with more than one.

 

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When Audiences Want More, Deliver!

When Audiences Want More, Deliver! 662 445 I Need A Speaker

During a coffee meetup with a new connection, I heard a great compliment about one of the speakers on our directory.

My coffee companion told me how impactful the speaker’s presentation was. “I could have listened to her all day,” she mused. “And when her talk ended, I was craving more.”

I explained that, depending on their contract/agreement with the event planner, speakers may not be able to sell from the stage. That means they are not permitted to sell courses, books, merchandise, or other commercial items.

So what can speakers do to give eager participants more? First, it’s important to check with the event planner to ensure policies aren’t violated. Second, ask the planner what is acceptable. Here are some ideas:

  • Invite participants to contact you with follow-up questions.
  • Offer something free for participants that is relevant to your talk. It may be a link to a longer talk that you’ve posted online. It may be a downloadable journal. It may be a list of resources to learn more.
  • Use a handout with more information.
  • On your closing slide, tell participants where you will appear next.
  • Mingle with the audience before and after your presentation to give them the opportunity to ask questions.
  • If you have a podcast or YouTube channel, include that on your narrative bio and final slide.
  • Announce an informal meetup with you immediately after the event concludes.

It’s important to engage with participants and answer their questions, and it’s also important to respect the policies of the event where you’re speaking. Ask what your options are, and be creative!

 

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Speaker Fees: Why “It Depends” Makes Sense

Speaker Fees: Why “It Depends” Makes Sense 668 441 I Need A Speaker

Our team spends hours in conversation with speakers and event planners each week. A topic that comes up frequently is speaker fees. While we understand event planners’ need to find suitable speakers within their budgets, we also understand why speakers need more information before quoting a fee for a specific event.

Speakers need answers to several questions: How much prep and travel time would be involved? How much customization is requested? Will I be allowed to sell courses, books, consulting services, or merchandise? Will I be asked to participate in a media interview? Will the event planner cover travel? How many people will be in attendance?

Many speakers will tell you that they quote a full fee (whatever that amount is) for a corporate event, and they may reduce that fee for non-profit organizations, their alma mater, or a cause which they personally support. They’ll also be up front about their level of experience and current demand.

All of these factors should be considered when setting a fee. Thanks to the event planners who provide as much detail as possible when booking talent for an event. Armed with this knowledge, will the speaker agree to the proposed terms? It depends.

 

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In Appreciation of Event Planners Who Outline Speaker Benefits

In Appreciation of Event Planners Who Outline Speaker Benefits 639 431 I Need A Speaker

When it comes to communication between event planners and speakers, some frankly do it better than others. Recently, we reviewed communication from an event planner who clearly outlines what is expected of speakers and what speakers can expect in return. The list went well beyond the discussion of speaker fees.

We loved it. Why? Because parties on both sides would have a clear set of expectations that would eliminate confusion or, in some cases, resentment. It was refreshing to see how this was handled.

The event planner required that speakers would:

  • Present proof of performance, so the planner could book with confidence
  • Adhere to assigned conference sessions without requesting changes
  • Meet all conference deadlines as listed in the communication
  • Avoid making substantial changes to presentation content, format, audio-visual needs, room set-up, or other specifications
  • Refrain from using the speaking opportunity to sell books, courses, merchandise, etc. if not otherwise agreed
  • Give permission for the event planner to audio and/or video record the speakers’ sessions (there is more legalese to this, but you get the general idea)
  • Share only positive or neutral opinions on the conference, its attendees, and its content
  • Be available for promotional opportunities and media interviews, if requested.

In return, speakers at this particular conference could expect:

  • Complimentary conference registration to all events except pre-conference workshops and add-on events
  • Travel expenses to include round-trip economy class far; ground transportation to and from the airport to the conference center/hotel; hotel stay the night prior to the speaker’s presentation and the night of the presentation; cost of speaker’s meals on travel days and day of presentation
  • Professional exposure on the event website and marketing materials
  • An evaluation report with session ratings and feedback after the conference.

Setting expectations early will make the relationship and the event much smoother.

As a speaker or event planner, what additional expectations might you set?

 

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Register by Jan 31 for Training and Branding Event in Feb 2024

Register by Jan 31 for Training and Branding Event in Feb 2024 545 431 I Need A Speaker

When our team promotes speakers on the I Need A Speaker directory, the first thing an event planner will say is, “Send me their speaker sheet and sizzle reel.” (If you’re not sure what those are, see our blog post from Jan 1, 2024.)

We know that many speakers have a phenomenal stage presence and a compelling message, but without that proof, buyers may be hesitant. To better position speakers to be booked, we’re pleased to offer a two-day, in-person, cohort-designed training and branding event. Our first event is scheduled for February 8-9, 2024 in Scranton, PA.

Why Invest in Public Speaking Training?

Leadership Enhancement: Empower yourself or your corporate leaders to deliver powerful messages that inspire and influence audiences.
Brand Representation: Ensure that your public-facing representatives embody your brand’s values with clarity, charisma, and confidence.
Increased Visibility: Stand out in your industry as your company spokespersons address audiences at meetings, public events, and conferences.

Package Includes:

  • Electronic press kit (EPK)
  • Logo
  • Hair and makeup services (prior to video recording)
  • Professional headshots
  • Sizzle reel
  • Video evaluation
  • Inclusion in I Need A Speaker marketing reel
  • News release for first speaking event

Program Details:

Cohorts Begin: February 2024

Group Size: Limit of 10 paid participants per cohort, plus one scholarship recipient.

Nationwide Expansion: After their debut event in Pennsylvania, our programs will be offered in various U.S. cities throughout 2024. Stay tuned for dates near you!

Corporate Opportunities: Corporations have the opportunity to elevate their leaders and public-facing personnel with this program. Consider sponsoring participants from your organization, and witness the positive impact on your brand’s image and success. Corporate training is also offered at a discount for groups of 10-12 individuals from the same company. Training takes place on or off site.

To learn more, register for the February cohort, or book corporate training, e-mail info@ineedaspeaker.com. 

 

 

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INAS Changes Business Model for 2024

INAS Changes Business Model for 2024 672 445 I Need A Speaker

Looking back, 2023 was an exciting, productive year of growth. I Need A Speaker continues to hit new milestones, changing the way speakers connect with audiences. And we’re doing it one person at a time.

I Need A Speaker was launched in 2020 to solve a problem. I was part of a committee to plan a speaker event. The committee had $1,000 to spend on a speaker, and the team was unable to identify the right speaker based on personal networks. Team members also knew that with just $1,000 to spend, we couldn’t afford to work with traditional speakers’ bureaus to find the right person for our theme, our event, and our audience. Traditional speakers’ bureaus often serve speakers who charge at least $5,000 for in-person events and sometimes $3,000 for virtual events. Then the bureaus add one-third of the speaker fee to cover their services in making the connection. Even at the lower end of their roster, we couldn’t afford any of those speakers. We were at a loss. The discussion around finding a speaker was futile, yet it lasted a painful three hours.

That day, I drove home from the meeting, wondering why there wasn’t a central place to connect qualified speakers at any fee range with the people who want to book them. So I built it.

For the first two years in business, I continually fought the association with any type of speakers’ bureau. I didn’t want my business model to resemble those in any way. In 2023, I participated in a tech business incubator program. As a participant, I was tasked with talking to speakers and event organizers to find out what they really want. I was surprised by what I learned.

Buyers told me that they wanted qualified speakers with the brand materials that reinforce credibility. In other words, people who book speakers want the confidence that comes with – at minimum – a speaker sheet and a sizzle reel. A speaker sheet is a single sheet that includes the speaker’s image, background, credentials, signature talks, and contact information. A sizzle reel is a brief video of the speaker in action, typically speaking before an audience. Some event planners call these materials social proof, and others refer to them as proof of performance. Regardless of the terminology used, planners agree that the materials are a basic requirement to consider booking a speaker.

Speakers told me that they wanted help elevating their skill set and developing their brand. They want to know how the public speaking business works. Often, they ask how to get started and move into progressively more desirable bookings. Speakers also said they view the value of services like those offered by I Need A Speaker are deserving of a 20% commission, paid from the speakers’ fee.

Based on what I learned in this process, I and my advisory board have implemented some changes to our business model.

  1. We will charge a 20% commission on bookings made through our website.
  2. We will offer training and branding packages for emerging speakers.

Our site and services will continue to evolve over time to continue delivering value to the people we joyfully serve.

Wishing you every success in 2024!

 

Photo credit: Image by Canva

This Is the Best Way to Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month

This Is the Best Way to Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month 695 472 I Need A Speaker

It’s Hispanic Heritage Month, and there are so many ways to celebrate:

  • Try Hispanic foods
  • Attend a library program
  • Visit a museum
  • Read a Hispanic author
  • Learn to speak Spanish
  • Support Hispanic-owned businesses
  • Teach Hispanic history (to a class or to your own family)
  • Learn a salsa dance
  • Host a workplace lunch ‘n learn
  • Play iconic Latin songs
  • Start a book club
  • Watch a documentary or film
  • Listen to a podcast (we’re partial to LatinoUSA from NPR)
  • Donate to a non-profit
  • Create your own Latin art

These are all great ideas to keep you entertained and educated during the month-long celebration, but the best suggestion we have is to book a Hispanic speaker.

If you’re an event planner, use our searchable directory to help find the right speaker for your group. Create a free account to search the directory.

If you’re a speaker, join others in our global directory to help event planners find you. Celebrate this special month with a free, one-year membership during September when you use code AMPLIFY.

Keep heritage education going all year long. Register now.

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