10 Things That Event Planners Do To Upset Speakers


I hope this is not a career-damaging article. It's not intended to be. It has been compiled following a challenge from two fellow members of MPI (Meeting Professionals International). Since I have a foot in the camps of both professional speakers and professional meeting planners, I hope both groups will forgive me. The idea is to make the relationship more harmonious, honestly.

So here’s my list:

1) No confirmation of the event. A booking has been made months ahead, it’s in pencil in the speaker’s diary, but there is no further communication until a week before the gig.

2) Sudden re-organisation of the agenda. An opening keynote becomes a closing keynote, or a workshop becomes a breakfast seminar. The last person to know may be the speaker.

3) No time for rehearsal. A professional speaker will always want to run a sound check and room check well before their speech.

4) No-fee events, with no obvious benefit to the speaker. There may be promises of “great networking opportunities”, but when the tea and biscuits cost more than a top-quality speaker, something is wrong.

5) Filming the speaker without permission (or a release form which gives away the speaker’s copyright). This should never happen, and should be negotiated in advance.

6) Telling the speaker as they begin “Can you cut your speech by 20 minutes” or “can you keep going until coffee – the next speaker hasn’t arrived”

7) Demanding copies of slides three months in advance. Many speakers don’t use slides. Some event planners don’t understand that

8) No briefing for the speakers, or no contact with the end client. This is all too common, and can lead to a mismatch between speaker and audience. Building a relationship between speaker and client is crucial.

9) No speaker liaison person and no response to enquiries from speakers.

10) Late cancellations and subsequent debates about cancellation fees.

Other than that, everything is fine! Of course, the above happen only rarely – but I hope they never happen to you.

And yes, there'll be a piece shortly on what speakers do to upset event planners.  

Alan Stevens



Alan Stevens Alan is Director of MediaCoach and has been both a TV presenter and expert interviewee. He now acts as coach for people who have had no previous media training.

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