Nothing can sink your reputation faster than being responsible for choosing a poor speaker or entertainment that stinks. A keynote speaker with a platinum price tag that fails to inspire, a comedian who tells inappropriate jokes....
Believe me.....the participants/stakeholders will forget about the poor speaker faster than they will forget the planner who made the unfortunate booking.
How do you get around this? I mean....you can't screen everyone can you?
The answer is yes you can and you should screen all potential speakers and entertainers. How do you do this?
Hire an agency - You may pay a little more, but it is worth it! An agency can save you time, energy and your reputation. Let's face it.....that's their job and they are good at it. As long as you can identify your budget, demographic, target audience and the deliverables, the agency should be able to give you a list of possible speakers. They will look after the contract, travel requirements, identify all costs to you and let you know of any other special requests that the speaker may have. I deal with the Lavin Agency and they are great!
Call other planners - When I was looking to bring a comedian from Eastern Canada out for an event, I checked her website for past events/clients. I then contacted the planner(s) for those events and asked them point blank the following:
- "Did they deliver what they promised?"
- "Did the audience enjoy them?"
- "Were they easy to work with?"
- " Were there any surprises?"
and the most important question,
- "Would you hire them again?"
99% of planners will answer these questions honestly and you will have a much better idea about the speaker.