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A series of articles about all facets of event planning with helpful hints, planning ideas, sample schedules and budgeting tips from the B&E Team.

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Speakers: What They Can Add To Your Event

Why a professional? Professional speakers will provide you with a depth of experience and a proven track record that can be verified by checking their references. In addition, they can customize their presentation for your group and provide previews of their work. Professionals reduce your risks. Don't take the chance of having an amateur practice at your event. You have only one chance to get it right.

Speakers can contribute to your event or meeting: A successful speaker generates excitement, motivation and boosts overall morale of the audience. The speaker and or the topic can motivate guests to attend a function.

Where to find a speaker: On the following pages you will find some of the local speakers. Other resources for speakers are: Consultants Speakers Bureaus, Universities and your own professional groups or peer recommendations.

Get a good reference: Observe the speaker performing live, if possible, or via an audio or video of a recent presentation. Talk to some of his or her recent clients and ask their opinions. If you are looking for a speaker and have no references, or are uncomfortable contacting speakers directly, consult with a reputable speakers bureau. They don't charge for their services.

Agree on fees and expenses in advance: Be sure that the terms of the honorarium or speaker's fee and expenses are clearly agreed upon in advance.

Get it in writing: Advise the speaker (confirmed with a contract to be signed and returned) of the day, time, and place of the engagement. Specify if you expect the speaker to attend any function before or after the presentation, and be sure such attendance is within the parameters of the fee and the travel schedule.

Ask for the speaker's help: Request a list of audio and visual or other requirements needed for the most effective presentation. If there will be handouts, clarify who is responsible for printing them. Provide the speaker with the audience profile and theme of your meeting and any other information that will help him or her relate to the audience. Request information and photos from the speaker in advance, to simplify development of your program and to utilize in promotional materials for the event.

Speaker and audio-visual rehearsal: Give the speaker a chance to rehearse with the microphone and podium they will be using so they are comfortable with the placement and setup.

Back-up speaker: Plans can change, so it's always smart to keep a back-up speaker in mind, especially if you have a political figure scheduled.

VIP transportation: Having speakers, leaders, and important guests picked up at the airport is good insurance that your VIPs will arrive on time. These people are critical to the success of the event, and they deserve special treatment. Check on arrival and departure times, customs, etc. Select the best route to your destination.

Multi-media presentations: A visual presentation, whether on video, slide or projector, can be an enhancement to any program. Unless your company is equipped and accustomed to producing visual presentation materials, it is smart to seek out experts who specialize in this field.

Speakers' helper: It's a good idea to assign someone to greet the speaker and show him/her the meeting room in advance of your function.