|Employees sometimes need to
hear a message delivered
by a new face, in a unique
Your CEO may be a successful leader and strategic decision-maker. She may even let loose with the occasional passionate speech to the executives sitting around the board room table or at a middle management pep talk. But the reality is that business people, from front-line employees to the corner office, sometimes need to hear a message delivered by a new face, in a unique context and using the power of symbol and metaphor. This is particularly true if the message is meant to move and inspire an audience of business people to change, grow and find the courage to experiment.
Enter the business motivational speaker. Rich Libner, president of MCP Speakers, has more than 20 years of experience matching business event planners with speakers who can make corporate key messages come alive. It's a worthwhile investment that offers great returns, says Libner. The audience, removed from the day-to-day demands of desk, daytimer and BlackBerry, is receptive to new ideas. The speaker, if he has been chosen carefully and prepped adequately, will capitalize on this receptiveness with a message that is both moving and practical.
Motivational speakers addressing a business audience do not always come from a business background. They may be survivors of debilitating or life-threatening diseases, champion athletes or decorated war veterans. Invariably, they are talented storytellers who can draw parallels between their personal accounts of perseverance to succeed against all odds and the challenges of corporate life.
Examples abound on the conference and meeting circuit. Having fought back from complete paralysis following a devastating double brainstem stroke, Kate Adamson now shares her story with business people as a way of motivating them to overcome their own organizational paralysis. Her message? There is nothing we can't overcome with the right tools and attitude.
Rene Godefroy arrived from Haiti with five dollars in his pocket. His determined rise from a childhood of illness and poverty to a career as a sought-after business motivational speaker inspires audiences to set and achieve goals, manage change and cope with stress.
Once considered an underdog in the world of ski racing, Cary Mullen --now an Olympian and World Cup champion--developed a winning 5-point strategy to take him from "worst to first." He shares his techniques with business audiences across North America to help them achieve, innovate, lead and succeed in times of scarcity and unprecedented change.
The shorter the timeline, the more likely you'll need to settle for a second-rate or little-known speaker. Depending on the size of the event, start your speaker search six to 18 months before the big day.
Know your budget.
Motivational speakers who cater to business audiences charge a range of fees, which vary based on their reputation, celebrity and experience. As an event planner, you will also be responsible for the speaker's travel, accommodations and meals while they are in town for your event, so factor these costs into your speaker choice. Knowing your budget will take some of the guesswork out of choosing the right speaker.
Be clear on your objectives.
It's a good idea to consult with others in the organization, from the executive team to the people who will be sitting in the audience. What do they want to get out of the event? What do they want to avoid? What worked (and didn't work) in the past? Gather this information and formulate it as a clear set of expectations for the event and the speaker. The clearer you are on the objectives the more likely the event will meet them.
Use a speakers bureau.
These professionals make it their business to help event planners and human resource professionals find the right motivational speaker. They have the contacts, experience and tools to ensure the speaker will meet your needs.
As an event planner, you can't just phone up Emmy-award winning writer and comedian Ross Shafer or the word's best female hockey player, Hayley Wickenheiser, and expect them to phone you back. You also can't expect to know about less expensive, up-and-coming motivational speakers who are just starting to develop their careers and a name for themselves.
That's where a speakers bureau comes in, says Libner. With the click of a mouse or a quick phone call, you can find out the price and availability of motivational speakers who you could never reach on your own.
But a speakers bureau isn't just about booking talent, Libner adds. At MCP Speakers, for example, event planners get valuable support. They learn about their options and are matched with appropriate speakers based on needs, goals, availability and budget. Event planners make their selection based on speaker reviews and preview videos. Once they have made a selection, the speakers bureau drafts a contract and helps with logistics such as travel, audio-visual requirements and other items on a pre-event checklist. A reputable bureau will even have a back-up plan for you in the event a speaker has to cancel.
And what does all this support cost? Event planners get all the services of a speakers bureau like MCP Speakers without paying a cent, because the bureau receives payment from the speaker.
Investing in a motivational speaker for your next business meeting, conference or retreat can reap great rewards in terms of employee morale and professional development. The key, Libner asserts, is to make sure you find a speaker whose message meets the needs of the business and touches the audience.