How To Coordinate an Event
with your Professional Speakers

By Milo Shapiro, CEO of IMPROVentures


In our previous two articles,
we mastered cost-free, productive
ways to find good candidates
for your keynote speakers and identified
great steps to select the right speaker.

Now let's discuss how to
coordinate the event with your
speaker to make the event
run as smoothly as
possible for you both.




 Itís wise to say something like, ďGo ahead and ask me everything you want to know about the event.  I'll get back to you with any answers I donít have right now.  When youíre done, I may have a few more questions for you.Ē  This is wise in two ways.  First, it allows him to take his notes in the order he is used to, but you still get to see if any points were left undiscussed by the end of your exchange.  Second, you get to hear if he asks you any questions youíd like to add to your checklist for the future (and if you do, write me at so I can add them to mine!)

The following is my checklist and I feel pretty confident that, by the time all of these are answered, I'll know what I'm walking into Ė ready to do a great job focusing on your audience and not an unexpected dilemma.  I've flipped the questions around to be your statement of facts rather than questions since you are the one supplying these answers (even if he didnít ask these questions!).  You can just say something like, "I'm glad I was able to answer your questions.  Here are some more facts that might be helpful,"...and then finish this list with him.   Parenthesized text shows where you'll likely be choosing one of the options I've provided.

►  Our ( company / organization ) is called  _________________ and our website is _________________________ so you can learn more about us before the event.

►  The date of the meeting is ____________________. 

►   The city of the meeting is __________ which is ___ number of hours ahead/behind you 
[Yes, the speaker may know this, but donít risk it Ė especially when dealing with Arizona.]

►  The meeting starts at __________ ( am / pm ).  Your speech will start at _______ ( am / pm ).  
[It's good to know if we're almost at the beginning or three hours into the meeting!]]

►  The expected length of the program is ______ minutes.  Although exact timing is wonderful, know that (itís fine if you go over just a bit / itís better to finish a bit early than to run over at all).

►  The fee weíve agreed upon is ___________.   Transportation, lodging, travel expenses, and copying fees will (also / not) be paid by the client.

►  Regarding a meal at this event, ( you are invited / you are not invited / there is no meal involved ). 
[Itís always awkward for the speaker to try to guess if he's invited, even though more than half the time he is.  Either way is fine...we just need to know.]

►  Seating arrangements will be ( tables / rows / U-shape ).  There ( will / will-not ) be an aisle up the middle.

►  The approximate audience size will be ___________ people. 

►  The ratio of men to women will probably be something like  ____ to _____.   
[Yes, this does sometimes affect how we present things]  

►  The age range of the audience will be from ________ to ________    
[A humorous reference to Marlo Thomas fell flat once when I realized that most people under 35 had no idea who she was]  

►  There ( will / wonít ) be a lectern for the speakers notes and to stand behind. 
[This may or may not be important to the speaker.  Also note:  Lectern is the right name, not podium.  A podium is something you stand upon] 

►   The speaker will be ( at floor level / on a raised platform / higher up on a stage area ) .

►   Regarding amplification, the speaker will be provided ( no amplification / a mike built into a lectern / a wired mike / a wireless mike / a lavaliere that he can clip on for maximum freedom).

►   The speaker ( needs / doesnít need ) for the client to provide ( a laptop / screen / projector ) for a Powerpoint presentation.  

►   The laptop will be advanced by ( a remote the client will provide / the speaker manually pressing a key on the laptop, which will have to be on the stage )   
[Whenever possible, do provide a remote.  Even if the speaker doesn't ask for it, no speaker looks better when they cannot move because they have to hover over their laptop.  Remotes are now under $20 on eBay, can run on one AA battery, and last for years.  It's a great investment.]

►   Regarding handouts, they will be (copied by the client / copied by the speaker / unnecessary).

►   When the speaker arrives, he should ask to meet _________________________ from the group.

►   In terms of set-up, the speaker ( will / wonít ) have access to the room before going on  because the general session ( will / wonít ) have already started. 
[This can be critical in terms of set-up!  It can be a nightmare to set up equipment or pass out handouts while the previous speaker is still on.  Knowing this may motivate the speaker to come earlier or have certain aspects set up by whomever from the group will prepare the room for the day] 

►   The speakerís introduction will be given by ______________________ and he will be made aware of the proper pronunciation of the speakerís name
[itís always an effort to smile when Iím introduced as Mee-lo Shay-pyro.

►   It would be ( okay / unacceptable ) for the speaker to offer related products for extended learning and support at the event from the back of the room.

►   It would be ( okay / unacceptable ) for the speaker to camcorder the event .

►   It would be ( okay / unacceptable ) for the speaker to bring up to _________ number of guests to hear the speech. 
[While this may seem odd, you might really win over a speakerís loyalty if he knew he could have three or four colleagues, staff members, or potential clients see him in action.

►   For more information about the event , you may contact _________________ and ________________ from the group.  Here are their phone numbers, email addresses, and job titles: ___________________

OR  Please refer all questions to me and I will see that you get your answers.
[When possible, itís very nice for the speaker to be able to hear facts and bounce ideas directly off the person who cares most about the meeting, but we know itís not always possible])

While there will always be some needs that are specific to a given speaker, this checklist should give you a solid start on knowing that the speaker portion of your event is well in hand.  Feel free to email me any comments, ideas, and horror stories from the past.

Milo Shapiro is a San Diego based motivational and entertainment
 speaker who uses improvisation and interaction to make his
keynotes fun.  He is the author of the non-fiction story book
"The Worst Days Make The BEST Stories" and the forthcoming
ďPublic Speaking: Get A's, Not

He also offers fun teambuilding through improv games which
improve teamwork, communication, and cooperation in groups.
our home page.