What’s Your Plan B? What to Do If Your Keynote Speaker Canceled Last Minute

So you’ve spent months and months planning an event. It’s the biggest ever, you’ve pulled out all the stops and covered all your bases. You’ve planned for every single possible contingency. Especially the biggest one. Your keynote speaker canceled at the last minute.

A nightmare, right? You’ve printed all the programs and posters with that person’s face all over them. Attendees have bought tickets with the promise of hearing an awesome keynote speech from this particular speaker. And the—admittedly, rare—unthinkable has happened. One of the worst things that could happen, really.

But! 

Being the professional planner that you are, you’re prepared with your Plan B, right?

I hope so! 

Here is a list of some Plan Bs for when your keynote speaker cancels at the last minute (I know it seems unlikely, but it does happen!).

Five Plan B tips for when your keynote speaker cancels last minute.

1. Crowdsource your crowd for a networking opportunity. 

Be upfront with your audience that your keynote speaker canceled, then turn that negative into a positive. Turn the empty time slot into an opportunity to have a group think tank. Have some talking points ready, ask your attendees to form groups and discuss the points on a timer with a buzzer. Invite them to reform new groups every time the buzzer rings and assign a new talking point. The points can be anything from current social issues to favorite kitchen hacks. Keep things moving at a fast pace and your audience will be laughing and forming new connections in no time. When time is up, have audience members share their favorite thoughts from the session for a larger group discussion. This lively interaction will quickly distract your audience from the missing keynote.

Corporate event planning has its own unique challenges…for some useful advice check out this post: Ten tips to make your corporate event unforgettable!

2. Appoint another guest as your substitute.

Many larger events feature many talented people. Well before the event, approach one of them and ask if they would like to be your substitute keynote speaker. Most speakers will jump at that opportunity. You will have to compensate them for their additional responsibility, but as your keynote will have forfeited their compensation, (unless their contract states otherwise) you will have space in your budget. If this happens, you can advertise their original session as an extension of their keynote.

3. Mine your past speakers.

Your past speakers can be a great resource in a pinch because you already have a positive working relationship with them; they trust you and you trust them. If your keynote speaker cancels, run through your list of past speakers and call any who are in your area and might be able to help you out with a last-minute favor. They already know that you’re good for your word, so will be more likely to stick their neck out for you. 

4. Create a panel session.

Choose five or six big players from your audience or list of other presenters. Have a strong moderator appointed, and line your panel up in chairs on the stage for a group discussion around a current topic that is pertinent to the industry. Field questions from the audience and keep the discussion moving and interesting.

5. Work with a speakers bureau.

When your speaker cancels last minute, your best Plan B is to have a speakers bureau in your back pocket ready to be dispatched. As professionals who have years of experience in the industry, a speakers bureau has countless speakers at their fingertips and the ability to pull in favors to get you a great backup speaker fast. A speakers bureau does all the legwork and paperwork for you so all you have to do is make the call and wait for your speaker to arrive.

There is a lot to think about when planning an event, and your speakers are arguably the most important part. Ready to start taking the guesswork and legwork out of booking a speaker and leave the particulars to the professionals? Don’t hesitate to contact us to get started.  

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Your ultimate event planning checklist!

9 Frequent Public Speaking Mistakes to Stop Doing Right Away

There are a few public speaking mistakes that surprisingly, a large number of people make but which affect their presentations. There are small and big mistakes that can make you appear unprofessional, lose your audience, and ruin your presentation. We’ve picked the nine worst public speaking crimes so you can work on them and make sure you’re not guilty of these offenses. Let’s dive in.

1. Reading from the Screen

This isn’t a read-along class. It’s not story time either when you read a chapter to your audience. Unfortunately, time and time again, presenters will start their presentation by reading from slides and then follow up with an explanation. Even worse, they will simply stick to the slide deck and read it word for word. Your audience isn’t children, so don’t treat them as such.

2. Chewing Gum on Stage

Maybe you like chewing gum because it relaxes you. Unfortunately, it’s something that audience members tend to find incredibly irritating and may even cause them to leave. When you’re sitting in an audience, seeing the person on stage chewing gum is annoying and unprofessional. If that’s your habit, stop this immediately. 

3. Speaking in Jargon

Your presentation is not the time to show your intelligence and understanding of the field. The fact that you’re on stage proves that. So, avoid using jargon or technical terms that can lose or confuse your audience. Instead, share insights and information in a way that people can understand. Your audience wants to be inspired and motivated, not learn some new words. All you’ll do is confuse them and get them to tune out. 

4. Unprepared

When you’re unprepared, that’s when you end up falling back on unprofessional words like “um, uh, er.” You have to do your presentation completely prepared for anything, so you don’t rely on words like that. Practice your speech a lot, and in different ways, so you don’t end up robotic and memorized. Practice your pauses as well and be comfortable with them. If you use certain words too much, your audience will get distracted and lose focus. 

5. Speaking Too Fast or Slow

You’ll want to pay a lot of attention to how quickly or slowly you’re speaking. While you might not be thinking about the speed of your speech, your audience will certainly notice it. If you speak too quickly, they won’t be able to keep up and will tune out. On the other hand, if you speak too slowly, you might be putting your audience members to sleep. Instead, focus on your enunciation, and get a lot of practice in front of loved ones who can give you feedback. If you don’t want to do that, try recording yourself and listening back to improve. 

6. No Core Message

When you don’t have a core message, or it’s not clear, that’s the easiest way to lose your audience. A big issue is when the speaker is too busy promoting himself or herself or just speaking about something that has nothing to do with the purpose of the presentation. The audience doesn’t want to know about the speaker; they want the message and to feel inspired. The audience will most likely know all about you if they’re attending your speech. All of your speech should be somehow connected to the message.

7. Going Too Long 

You want to be sure to finish your presentation at the right time. Your audience probably has plans and places to be, so you want to make sure that you finish the presentation when it’s supposed to. Or else, they will start fidgeting and looking at their watches. Be sure to start on time always, and you should know how long each section of your speech should take. That way, you can always know how much time you have left for other sections. The more you prepare and rehearse, the more you can keep track of your time and whether you’re on pace.

8. Think About Clothes

First impressions matter, and it’s what your audience will remember. You will be observed and judged as soon as you get on stage from your body language to your clothes and confidence. Think a lot about what you’ll wear and make sure it’s comfortable, so you’re not constantly fidgeting with your clothes during your speech. The audience doesn’t want to be sidetracked from the message by your wardrobe malfunctions. 

9. Leaving Your Phone On

The worst thing that could happen is for your phone to go off during your speech, or someone’s phone in the audience. Remember to put yours on silent before you start, and ask your audience members to do the same before your speech. Better yet, don’t even bring yours up with you.

Aimee Laurence, an editor for Academized.com and Essay Service, shares her thoughts on public speaking and presentation tips. She enjoys helping people become better public speakers, even people who are introverts and dislike standing on a stage. In her spare time, Aimee is a tutor for Essayroo Sydney.

7 Tips to Save Money When You’re Planning an Event

Event planning has always been a tough industry. And now with our ever more competitive economy and smaller and smaller budgets, planning an event is more challenging than ever. 

Gone are the days of sky’s the limit budgets. Now, clients are expecting their planners to pull off the same events they always have but at greatly reduced budgets. 

Everyone is trying to save money. And if you want to succeed in today’s planning industry, this means you, too.

Here are seven helpful ways that you can trim costs off of your next event.

7 Tips to Save Money When You’re Planning an Event

1. Know your budget.

This one seems simple but when you’re planning an event it is vitally important to know your budget. 

A million little costs you didn’t anticipate can pile up mighty fast and blow your budget before you know it, especially if you never had a handle on your budget in the first place.

So the first thing you need to do if you want to save money is to know your budget inside and out. No gray areas and no wiggle room. Before you start, solidify and confirm the final budget with your client. 

2. Use a sponsor.

Or better yet, sponsors. 

Our unforgiving economy means everyone is looking for ways to save money. So get out there and find them. There are many companies that would love to gain some exposure through sponsorship of your event. Sponsors can provide everything from banners to swag to free transportation. Take a look around.

New companies looking for exposure are perfect candidates for sponsorship. Approach some that are in fields related to your event and strike up a deal. This can potentially save a lot of money for your event.

3. Be selective with venues.

Think suburban! Don’t just go for the standard (and potentially expensive) conference halls and hotels in the center of town. When booking venues, you can save money just by thinking outside of the box and outside of the city limits, too. 

Next time you’re planning an event, instead of booking smack dab in the city center, think about booking slightly outside of town, in a suburb ideally reached by local transit. Or, book more creative (cheaper) venues such as local theaters, galleries, and smaller hotels. Even trendy “pop-up” restaurants and venues can be created for an event.

4. Think big? No, think small! 

There are so many amazing start-up companies out there that are chomping at the bit to get out there, get some experience, and get some exposure. So when you’re planning an event, from the transportation to the catering to the recycling, instead of defaulting to the big names, take a closer look at what the local entrepreneurs are offering. 

If you approach these vendors with an open mind and a willingness to negotiate, you can secure some great services for your event at great prices, and support small businesses as well. Not to mention the new relationships and alliances you will be forming. 

Planning an event? Browse eSpeakers’ comprehensive speaker directory, and reach out to us to get started getting the perfect speaker on your keynote stage!

5. Nothing is free…but social media is.

Save huge on your marketing budget by using free social media to its full effect. There are some amazing things being done with marketing on social media platforms these days, get online and look at some other events to see what they have done and to get inspiration. 

You can also use social media platforms in-event to get your attendees interacting with each other. Twitter is a great free platform to get people talking. Create a hashtag for your event and get posting.

If you can, dedicate a staff member or volunteer to be in charge of your social media campaigns. It will be worth it when you see the buzz and attention a little social media activity can create.

6. Trim food costs.

There are all kinds of ways to save money on your food budget. 

Going with a buffet instead of a sit-down table service is a great way to reduce costs, as is offering a simple drinks menu instead of a full bar, which can get very expensive.

Save money by eliminating afternoon sandwiches or cheese platters and keep it simpler and healthier with fruit and vegetable trays. 

Another option is finding a local caterer or restaurant that will offer a reduced rate in exchange for a high profile at your event.

7. Hire a speaker’s bureau.

Last but not least, hiring a speaker’s bureau is a great way to save money when you’re planning an event. 

A speaker’s bureau can eliminate all of the time-consuming legwork involved in securing a great speaker, and they have the experience and connections to negotiate the best deal possible for you. 

Consider eSpeakers when you’re planning your next event. 

Contact us to get started finding the perfect speakers who will make your events unforgettable!

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Your ultimate event planning checklist.
The four commitments of a winning team.

5 Nuggets Of Advice For The Novice Professional Speaker

Written by Dana Brownlee as a Forbes Contributor

In my previous post, “Tired Of Speaking For Free? Here’s How To Get Paid To Speak,” I tackled the thorny issue of how to secure paid speaking engagements, but getting paid engagements presumes the speaker is worth the big bucks and not all are. Easily commanding five figures per talk, the best speakers have taken their craft to the next level. Here are a few nuggets of advice for novice professional speakers seeking to do just that.

Tip #1 – Distinguish yourself through content focus or speaking style/approach

Given the low barriers to entry for the speaking profession, virtually everyone seems to think they’re professional speaker material and half of those may decide to give it a whirl. With so much competition out there it’s imperative to distinguish yourself – set yourself apart from the pack either through your content focus or delivery style/approach. To clarify, simply being engaging and dynamic isn’t a distinguishing quality. That’s expected for a top-notch speaker, but if you happen to incorporate an instrumental piece into your presentation, for example, that’s different (and memorable).

Typically, speakers distinguish themselves with their content focus. As a social media thought leader and speaker, Carlos Gil touts the importance of developing a unique pitch for conference organizers or other potential clients. “It’s best to research what already exists in the market and create something that feels original,” insists Gil. As an example, years ago when he pitched himself for a speaking slot at a major industry conference, he intentionally avoided pitching talks on more prevalent social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn and instead opted to focus his talk on Snapchat (lesser known at the time) because he wanted to distinguish himself in a crowded field of social media experts. VP Technology, eSpeakers Dave Reed adds, “Avoid the temptation to speak on “anything” just because you’re good on stage and you can. Speakers who choose a very narrow lane for their brand tend to get successful faster. Pick a specific problem you solve and become the known go-to person for that.”

Another way to distinguish yourself is through delivery style or approach. For me, this has been one of my most distinguishing qualities. Typically, when I get rave reviews from organizers or participants, they comment first on the energy in the room and next about the practical nature of my content and recommendations. One of my personal pet peeves is those presentations where you feel lathered up during the presentation, but when you get back to your desk, you don’t have actionable tips you can use to enhance your situation. As a result, I’ve adopted an approach that focuses on providing really practical, easy to implement techniques and tips. What does that look like? If I’m advising them on how to manage rambling discussion in a meeting, I don’t just suggest a technique. I also hold up the time tracker, show them how it works during the talk and tell them where they can buy it. They love it, and it makes my talks a bit different from others’.Today In: Leadership

Tip #2 – Make sure you’re a true expert who has done it, not just read about it

There is no substitution for speaking from first-hand experience – period, hard stop! Unfortunately, too many speakers are skilled orators and tempted to speak on topics that aren’t truly their area of expertise, and audiences can tell. Anyone can rattle off bullet points on a slide. What makes a speaker truly compelling is their personal stories, examples, and anecdotes. Audiences relate to a speaker through similar experiences, and they can tell if you’re just a chapter ahead of them in the book. They want to hear from people who are true experts on their topic. This doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers — of course not. For most complicated issues there is no single answer or single way to view the issue so they’re not expecting perfection, but they do want someone with deep expertise having done the work themselves.

Even more disturbing is how often people approach me who are interested in speaking for a living but have a deer in headlights look when I ask about their topic or area of expertise. While style and speaking ability are certainly important, the best speakers are drawn to the profession because they have something truly compelling to say! If you aren’t bursting at the seams with something truly compelling to share with a group, you’re probably not ready for professional speaking.

Tip #3 – Focus your message on their problem, not your expertise

Yes, you need to be an expert, but don’t lead with that. The only reason I started writing articles and giving presentations on managing difficult bosses was that the #1 question I’d get at the end of my talks (irrespective of the topic) was something along the lines of, “But, how do I use this technique if my boss is the one who is the problem?” It was clear to me that managing difficult bosses was a pain point for most of my audiences, so I immediately started developing content focused in that area (based on my own personal experiences and later my own research). So while it’s great to be an authority in an area, it’s important that the message clearly focuses on their problem, their issue, their challenge. Then, the speaker’s expertise can swoop in to solve that problem. Developing case study scenarios that illuminate the problem can be an effective tactic for making sure you’re leading with their problem. The shift in focus from a speaker expertise perspective to an audience’s problem perspective can easily mean the difference between having them sitting on the edge of their seats or playing Candy Crush on their phones while making a grocery list during your talk.

Tip #4 – Customize your talks as much as possible

Most speakers have a handful of talks that they offer as their standard presentations and that’s perfectly fine, but it’s also important to take the time to understand each specific audience and tailor the message to best connect with them. Certified Speaking Professional and past president of the National Speakers Association Lenora Billings-Harris insists, “Clients want you to treat them as though they are the most important. Focusing on the engagement by interviewing the client more than once, conducting research on the organization and then tailoring that information to the audience show you made the time to learn their needs.” While it’s tempting to simply regurgitate the same talk to vastly different audiences, doing so can be very risky. In a worst-case scenario, audiences will sense that you’re out of touch with them and turn on you. Years ago I attended a dinner meeting for a project management organization, and the speaker clearly knew very little about the discipline of project management. As a result, he made some flippant comments that were somewhat offensive to the audience. I could literally feel the room turn on him in that moment. For the rest of the talk, the tension in the room was palpable. I’m sure he regretted not doing his homework on the ride home.

The good news is that tailoring a talk doesn’t require becoming an expert in every industry, company or organization. It is important though to familiarize yourself enough so that you’re speaking their language so to speak and using relevant references and terminology. For example, do they refer to customers, clients, patients, patrons, users or constituents? Using the correct terms helps them relate to your message. If you have a case study or an example, share it with the event organizer in advance and ask them to suggest rewording to make it more relevant for their audience. Don’t assume you understand how your topic might manifest in their environment. I often speak on the topic of managing difficult bosses and was surprised during an oral health summit when someone asked how to address a domineering boss (dentist) who barked orders during surgery while the patient was awake? It definitely wasn’t the typical office environment I was used to referencing, but it was clearly relevant for her line of work. The more time you invest in getting to know the audience and tailoring your content to speak to them, the better your message will connect.

Tip #5 – Create a high energy, highly interactive experience

There’s not much worse than a boring, dry talk! I always hate those presentations that I leave thinking to myself, “Well, that’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back!” One way to ward off that reaction is to provide high-value content that they can use immediately, Another way is to provide a high energy experience that engages them throughout the process. Speakers have different techniques for creating a high energy experience, so find one that feels authentic for you – and work it! Some presenters come into pumping music, others tell jokes throughout, others are great storytellers or have very animated presentation styles. In my sessions, I tend to walk the audience constantly which helps to keep them engaged throughout, and I generally like to have them moving in some way every 15 minutes or so. Sometimes, they’re moving to talk to their neighbor or complete a quick group activity. Other times, they’re doing an improv style ice breaker, responding to a question that I’ve posed by raising hands, or maybe lining themselves up to indicate their leadership style tendency. My overall goal though is to ensure that they’re not sitting there like a bump on a log listening to me talk for 45-60 minutes. I’ve always felt that the best presentations are more about the audience than the speaker so finding ways to invite the audience to participate, not just consume can be the key to creating a highly interactive experience.

Celebrating 57 years of the “I Have A Dream Speech”

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
57 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. gave one of the most famous and influential speeches in American history. The “I Have a Dream” speech was effective not just for its words, but also for Dr. King’s impassioned delivery.

It represented the feelings of millions of people fighting for civil liberties. The speech, given by a lesser man in a lesser setting may not have earned the same attention. Dr. King knew if he were to truly help bring about change, he would need a speech and setting that would inspire. The March on Washington and “I Have a Dream” speech caught the attention of a nation, and brought it closer to the much-needed change.

eSpeakers believes in the power of great speeches like the “I Have a Dream” speech, and in great speakers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To honor his speech given 57 years ago, eSpeakers has created an infographic in commemoration of that great moment in American history. You can view the infographic below.

Click this link to see the full inspiring infographic:
Celebrating 57 years of the “I Have A Dream Speech” Infographic

To find great and inspiring speakers for your own event, consider searching eSpeakers Marketplace.

For a Super Engaged Audience, Aim for Edutainment

In this era of constant distractions combined with higher expectations across the board, terms like “edutainment” are conceived every day as we try to define the higher bars we are all leaping over.

This couldn’t be truer in the event planning industry.

Education + Entertainment = Engaged Audiences!

People attend conferences to be educated, yes. But they expect to be entertained as well. No one wants to come away from a conference feeling overwhelmed by too much information that was delivered in an endless stream of dry, boring workshops and lectures. 

This is a new truth that can’t be ignored as you plan your next event and choose your speakers.

When you’re aiming for the edutainment factor at your event, it can be easy to go too far into the entertainment side of things. This leaves your guests feeling like they’ve been to a show but haven’t gained anything worthwhile.

Corporate event planning has its own unique challenges…for advice check out this post: Ten tips to make your corporate event unforgettable!

It’s important to strike a balance between education and entertainment

Ever since TED Talks came on the scene, the bar for keynote speeches and speeches, in general, has been raised. Attendees expect to be really impressed—no, blown away—by fascinating stories and funny anecdotes, sprinkled with inspiration as well as lots and lots of very useful facts and information. 

Ted Talk attendees leave those speeches feeling enriched as well as entertained.

Your choice of speakers makes all the difference when you want a focus on edutainment. 

It’s well documented that people of all ages learn best when they are engaged. 

Further, with university degrees having less and less value as the years go by, more people are interested in upgrading and learning new skills. 

A bachelor’s degree doesn’t cut it anymore. People in this workforce are now focused on constantly expanding their resumes and skillsets. Online free learning is more popular than it’s ever been.

Education is what people are looking for. More knowledge.

So when you are deciding on what speakers to hire for your next event, think carefully if you’re looking for the edutainment edge!

Choose speakers who not only have a smart message but are multi-talented as well. They’re not just a talking head, their presentations have flair and something unique to bring to your keynote stage. A speaker who combines education and entertainment at just the right balance will have your attendees laughing, clapping, singing or dancing while they are absorbing new knowledge.

When they think back on your event they will remember the fun they had, rather than the painfully boring keynote they listened to while trapped in a sea of attendees with their eyes glazed over. 

Search for speakers who focus on entertaining while they impart valuable knowledge. Some combine music with their speeches, or dancing, or comedy routines

And of course, contacting a speaker’s bureau is a great first step. Get in touch with us!

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How To Book a Celebrity: Ten Things You Need to Know to Bag a Big Name

Hiring a speaker is a challenge in itself. Hiring a celebrity speaker is a whole different ballgame!

A celebrity speaker will drive lots of traffic and attention to your event; the free buzz that this person will create for you can pay for itself, it’s true. 

If you decide you want to book a celebrity for an upcoming event, you need to consider that there are two sides to this coin. 

But if you book a celebrity, you also need to be on a level of professionalism that you may not have achieved before. You have to have all your ducks in a row before you even consider contacting a celebrity to appear at your event.

Bring your “A” game.

If you appear in any way unprepared when you reach out to a celebrity’s PR team, they will not even consider your proposal because it will smell like a “waste of time”.

Celebrities don’t have time to waste. They also have their public reputations to consider. Most of them won’t appear at an event that won’t make them look good. If you come off as unprofessional at the get-go, they won’t sign on. 

The way to successfully book a celebrity is to approach their PR person with all the information they need in a concise document that allows them to assess your event, what it has to offer and make a quick yes or no decision. If your proposal is incomplete or messy, it will much more likely be a “no”. 

You don’t want that.

For them, time is money, so you need to have all your expectations set and ready to present up-front. With that in mind, we put together a list to help you present a strong proposal. 

How to book a celebrity: Ten things you need to know to bag a big name.

Your budget. 

Big surprise: celebrities cost a lot. Be prepared to pay a minimum of $50,000 all the way up to a six-figure number. 

Why you want to book a celebrity.

Don’t just choose celebrities at random, just for the sake of having a big name. Your celebrity’s presence at your event should make sense. So know the purpose and theme of your event, and choose a celebrity who fits in with that idea. An appropriate person will have a much stronger effect than someone who is there just for the sake of their celebrity status. 

How you want your celebrity to fit into your event.

Curate your celebrity speaker into your event for the greatest effect. Consider who they are and what they have to offer your attendees—would a full 60 or 90-minute keynote speech be appropriate, or a moderated Q & A session? Every speaker brings something unique to an event, even celebrities. Remember that when you are proposing your event to them.

Your event location.

The location of your event will affect which celebrity you will be able to book, because of two factors: 

  • Flying a celebrity from afar will cost more on your end.
  • You will need more time to book a celebrity speaker the farther you are from where they live. 

Your speaker may not want to fly thousands of miles. So the farther you are from city centers, allow more time to find someone who can.

Your timeline.

You need to know the exact dates and times that your celebrity will be speaking, down to the minute, before you contact them with your proposal. Most celebrities want to spend as little time as possible at your event (no offense, it’s a time thing) so they will arrive shortly before their allotted time and leave shortly afterward. Provide this information upfront.

Your team.

Your celebrity needs to know that there is a solid team ready to receive them. If they don’t know who to contact or your team seems to change on a daily basis, you will seem unprofessional and they won’t want to be involved. Make it clear who on your team does what, and how they should contact them.

Your speakers bureau.

Using a speakers bureau can cut down on a lot of back-and-forth and guesswork for you. It is a speakers bureau’s business to know which celebrities are available for speaking engagements, what they charge, and what their special expectations are. Engaging a speakers bureau to do all this legwork for you can save you a ton of time.

Not sure where to start? Check out our directory of celebrity speakers!

Who they are speaking to.

It’s important to know who your audience is, so your celebrity can know what to expect if they accept your offer. Also, they can curate their speech appropriately so they can have a greater impact, which is better for them and for your audience.

Your marketing plan.

All of your promotional material will need to be okayed by the celebrity’s PR team before it is distributed. To avoid wasted resources when they reject something you’ve already paid for, make sure you know how you plan to promote the event so you can get their approval as soon as possible.

Your Plan B.

This doesn’t go on your proposal. But it’s important to have a strong Plan B, because most celebrities will have a cancellation clause written into their contracts in case they are offered a film or other such engagement and need to back out suddenly. If this happens, you need to be ready to deploy your second-best speaker at a moment’s notice!

This list will help you get everything you need in line to book a celebrity for your event. We hope you enjoyed it. If you think we missed anything important, let us know!

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Your Ultimate Event Planning Checklist!

So you’ve done the hustle, you’ve sold your skills and pitched like crazy. And you did it—you landed that next big contract!

Well done…now what?

This one’s bigger than any event you’ve organized before and you’re feeling ever-so-slightly in over your head—you’re more nervous than excited! And you’re not sure where to start.

What you need is an event planning checklist that will ease your fears. 

With all the moving parts involved in planning an event, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But don’t panic—you’re at the very start. The perfect place to be to plan an unforgettable event from the ground up.

But first, you need to get organized.

With this event planning checklist, you can keep track of all those little details and make sure you don’t forget anything.

eSpeakers Ultimate Event Planning Checklist

14 to 18 months prior to the event:

  • Write your event planning checklist!
  • Select and hire your planning committee
  • Delegate tasks and responsibilities
  • Create a preliminary budget
  • Establish objectives, goals, and theme of the event
  • Create a website 
  • Put together a mailing list
  • Create a marketing plan
  • Send an email blast: save the date
  • Venue search/site visits
  • Begin soliciting sponsorship
  • Outline event agenda
  • If you are using one, hire a decorator 
  • Establish satellite events 
  • Establish logistical parameters:
    • Space requirements
    • Number of attendees
  • Send out RFPs for ancillary services (transportation, equipment rentals)

Looking for the perfect speakers for your next event? Search our speaker marketplace here!

10 – 16 months before the event:

  • Contract ancillary services
  • Establish rates and pricing/early bird pricing
  • Begin promotion!
  • Launch social media campaign and platforms
  • Build registration platform on the website
  • Finalize contracts with venues and pay deposits
  • Seek out and secure speakers and facilitators
  • Arrange transportation and accommodation for speakers and guests
  • Be sure your website(s) can handle increasing traffic

6 – 10 months before the event:

  • Open registration 
  • Finalize sessions
  • Layout program
  • Plan event logistics with vendors (travel, menus, etc.)
  • Print and send out brochures

3 – 6 months before the event:

  • Confirm menus and ancillary venues
  • Review audio-visual requirements
  • Begin your “Event Day Master List”
  • Determine the final print date
  • Keep the website updated with new information
  • Finalize speakers and agenda

1 – 3 months before the event:

  • Hire and train event staff
  • Order attendee materials and swag (nametags, t-shirts, notebooks etc.)

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6 weeks – 2 months before the event:

  • Finalize decorative details
  • Prepare post-event survey
  • Email and snail mail reminders to speakers

2 – 6 weeks before the event:

  • Print signage, programs, and other literature
  • Finalize attendance numbers
  • Troubleshoot digital/online apps and technologies

1 week before the event:

  • Review Master Plan
  • A/V run-throughs
  • Troubleshoot equipment
  • Event walk-throughs with key personnel
  • Email updates to speakers and other participants
  • Familiarize personnel with logistical details of venues
  • Collect all presentations on USB sticks
  • Prepare check-in materials
  • Close registration, provide final numbers to venues and hotels
  • Prepare gifts for speakers and participants
  • Train event support staff

Day of the event:

  • Meet and greet
  • Oversee smooth functioning, monitor safety and cleanliness put out fires

Week after the event:

  • Email post-event questionnaires
  • Send thank-you letters to VIPs and speakers
  • Post-event breakdown meeting with key personnel
  • Begin planning the next event!

An event planning checklist is essential to keeping organized whether you’re a veteran planner or are brand new to the industry. Is there anything we missed? Let us know in the comments.

Now, get planning!

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Corporate Event Planning: Ten Tips to Make it Unforgettable!

As all event planners know, corporate events are not all created equally. This can make corporate event planning a tricky business. An art, even.

Corporate events all have the same goal in mind: to bring a group—large or small—together for the purpose of inspiring them to do better in their professional lives, one way or another.

They can be engaging, emotionally-charged power-events, leaving attendees feeling united in their common purpose to advance their industries for the greater good of society as a whole!

Or, they can be awkward, boring snooze-fests that have the participants checking their watches and plotting their escapes out a side door.

If your work is in corporate event planning, an event like this can be a career-killer.

But, have no fear! We’ve compiled a list of ten tips to make sure your next corporate event is unforgettable.

Ten tips to make your corporate event unforgettable!

Be inspiring!

This is the whole point of corporate event planning and can’t be overlooked. If your attendees don’t leave your event inspired in some way, then you haven’t done your job as an event planner.

This is where the speakers you choose can play a key role in making your event unforgettable. Choosing the right person to speak to the particular challenges and issues of your participants can make all the difference between an event with impact and one that fades into distant memory.

Be interactive.

The main purpose of corporate event planning is to help businesses break down divisions that exist between their employees and various departments. This is also true for larger events that can work to bring people together who inhabit different areas of the same industry.

Through interactive activities such as workshops and icebreaker events, your participants will enjoy opportunities to get to know each other in more casual situations, rather than just sitting passively side-by-side at presentations and talks.

Be inclusive.

People love to feel included, especially in this era when so much of our lives are dominated by digital interactions rather than face-to-face. 

Spend lots of time during the event talking to participants, asking them how the event is going for them and how it might improve. Take polls and post the results. Create social media platforms dedicated to letting participants interact with each other. 

Did you know we have an interactive database of fabulous speakers? Check out the marketplace here.

Make your invitation…inviting!

The invitation is the first introduction to your event. So make sure it isn’t impersonal and humdrum, so recipients stay away from that delete button. Make your invitations thoughtful, informative, and reflective of the theme and intent of the event. If potential participants can get a good idea of what’s in store if they attend, they will be more likely to consider registering.

Pick a theme.

An integral part of your corporate event planning may include choosing a theme. 

A theme creates a narrative that can anchor your participants firmly in the experience. Find ways for attendees to participate, such as dressing to the theme or creating playlists they can download on their devices. 

Get educational.

Studies have shown that experiential learning is far more effective than passive learning, such as sitting and listening to lectures.

So, at your next corporate event make sure to include some experiential learning opportunities. This can include specialized training sessions or pop-up workshops. When an educational aspect is included in an event, it is transformed from a potential waste of time to a productive chance to improve skills and knowledge.

Choose your venue carefully.

A venue isn’t just a space—if chosen carefully, it can be elevated to an important part of your event’s story. So, put some thought into your venue selection. Choose something that fits with the theme and feel of your event. Also, a venue that has an interesting focal point or feature will add character to the even. It will also give your attendees a cool spot to gather.

Don’t forget to follow up.

Corporate event planning also means planning for the future. Post-event is a valuable time to gather feedback to put towards your next event, as well as making sure attendants don’t forget the experience they’ve just had. 

Send fun, interesting questionnaires to all the participants, inviting them to share what their favorite and not-so-favorite parts of the event were. 

Food and drink.

You’ve put so much thought into the venue, theme, content and speakers of your event. Don’t cop out when it comes to the food! 

What’s on the buffet tables may seem inconsequential compared to what’s on stage. But the truth is if you offer refreshments that go beyond the usual mediocre event fare, people will remember. Food matters, so don’t treat it like an afterthought!

Choose the right speakers.

Last but not least, the right presenters and keynote speaker will make or break your event. Choosing speakers correctly is not optional when corporate event planning, as they have the power to lift an event from mundane to memorable.

If you’re looking for an amazing, inspiring speaker for an upcoming event, make sure to reach out to us so we can help you find the perfect fit.

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Your perfect 7 step social media marketing event strategy

Your budget is set, the venue booked, speakers secured – now it’s time to promote your next event with social media marketing.

Of course, social media has to be a big part of that, but…

where to start?

The trick with all social media marketing is to be strategic and leverage your assets. The good news is that your event naturally will have a lot of assets, like speakers, sponsors, testimonials, attendees – even your event team.

Here is a 7-step social media marketing event strategy you can use to roll out social media promotion for all your events.

1. Less is best

Your first decision for social media marketing is to choose which social channels to focus on. Rather than trying to be everywhere, choose 2-3 channels you can easily manage. To get started, here are 3 questions to ask:

  • Where do you already have a following? There’s no point spending time promoting your event on Pinterest or Instagram if you have 100 followers – you’re efforts will get lost in the noise.
  • What channels are your audience using? If you are attracting a business audience, LinkedIn is great for B2B communication.
  • Where can you get noticed? Facebook may have the largest users, but to get your updates noticed you have to post into a group, create a Facebook event or use paid advertising.

For most B2B events, Twitter and LinkedIn will get you the most exposure, Facebook is more likely to get you the most engagement.

2. Build your strategy

“Video is an extremely effective medium to showcase the passion and enthusiasm your event inspires.” Social Media Examiner

Now that you have your social channels, it’s time to build a simple social media marketing strategy for your team. The goal should be to get maximum engagement and conversion with the smallest time commitment.

Start with these steps:

  • Upgrade your social profiles. Now is a great time to update the banners and company description on your social channels.
  • Delegate community management. Choose someone on your team to oversee the daily updates and replying to engagement.  
  • Create your event hashtag. Choose a hashtag that is easy to remember and use it everywhere, including the new banners for your channels.
  • Use video to get noticed. In our busy, digital-distraction world, video stands out in newsfeeds. Create a short highlight reel from last year’s event, encourage team members to capture clips at your venue – even working in your office. Also, ask for 30-second welcome videos from your main stage speakers (they should also post these on their channels.)
  • Add your event to your email signature.

3. Start early

“Many organizers forget to place enough time on event promotion using social media.” Canva

The earlier you start getting the word out on social, the sooner you will start to get traction. Of course, not everyone will get on board, but all you need is a small percentage to get the promotions started to start making noise. 

A good place to start is with the people you have the most influence over your team, main stage, and breakout speakers, sponsors, your venue event team, caterers, entertainers, and hotels. You might be surprised at the number of influencers on your list!

4. Get creative

“…make sure your hashtag is visible at your event so your guests know to use it. Include it in handouts and display it on screens throughout your venue.” Eventbrite

Look for opportunities to share the excitement of your event with creative posts. 

  • If you have a repeat event, use pictures from last year’s event to build excitement. 
  • As you secure your entertainers and speakers share the good news on social. Ask them to share as well.
  • Run fun contests to get more engagement, like asking followers to select their favorite thing to do in the host city.

5. Reward people

The more you reward people for using your event hashtag, the more you’ll see it being used. Have someone on your team check daily for mentions and then reward people with likes and shares.

At your event, have your host encourage attendees to Tweet using your event hashtag. At some events, organizers will install a flat-screen TV displaying a rolling Twitter feed so attendees can see their tweets going live!

6. Measure results

Planning a successful event is all about getting the biggest, best bang for your budget, right? Social media is no different. A part of your social media marketing planning strategy should be to monitor weekly some basic numbers:

  • Number of followers on each channel
  • Views and shares on your event updates
  • Number of times your hashtag gets used

7. Follow up after your event

“Social media messages should never be limited to text-only posts.” Dan McCarthy, Event Manager

After your event is a great time to keep the buzz going. Use social to get your event survey out, get attendees to share pictures, or promote your next event. People will be talking about your event and with a little encouragement the buzz will keep going (and promoting next year’s event.)

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