Can We Really Trust Your Conference Speakers to Stay on Time

If you are organizing a conference, convention or corporate meeting this is the most difficult thing to do. Keep your speakers on time.

Every speaker believes that they need more time than you allot them. Every speaker believes that the audience loves them and wants to hear more.

Most of the time, you, the conference or meeting organizer, can not trust your speaker to stay on time – especially if your speaker is a non-professional. Perhaps you invited an industry expert or company spokesperson to speak because the price was right. They speak for free. That might satisfy your budget but will it present a logistics challenge for you?

Consider this: A speaker who agrees to speak for free with the intention of promoting his product or company will feel that you owe him the time you originally agreed to – and sometimes more.

As the event organizer you probably know that conferences and meetings seldom run on time – which means that someone must cut their presentation. A free speaker will seldom do that because:

  • They don’t know how to truncate their presentation
  • They promised their boss that they would speak for x minutes at your event
  • They feel that you owe them their time - period
And yes we’ve all seen professional speakers abuse your time. Celebrity speakers seem to be the worst because they are basking in the glow of “It’s all about me”. Novice professional speakers make the mistake of going over time because they are still learning.

Every time before they go on stage, the best professional speakers will usually ask the MC or conference organizer, “When do you want me to finish?” And miraculously they will finish on time. Why? Because they have prepared to do that.


Here is a test you can use to see if your speaker understands the concept “Finish on Time”


Ask the speaker, “How will you ensure that you finish on time?”

Does the speaker have his own clock or he is aware of the clock in the room. It’s a bad sign if the answer to both these questions is “no”.


Ask the speaker, “Are you able to shorten your presentation to meet our shifting time limits?” Is the speaker prepared to leave something out?

If the speaker looks at you strange or starts to protest then your schedule is in trouble.

Ask the speaker, “What have you done to shorten your presentation when the schedule changed at a previous speaking engagement?”

  
If you want your speakers (professional or free) to adapt to your schedule, ask them these critical questions before you agree to book them for your special event.



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