Meeting planners know the value of meticulous planning. They are responsible for selecting and contracting with the speaker, promoting the event, booking the hotel for the speaker, arranging transportation for the speaker and ensuring that the facilities are set up perfectly on the day of the seminar, writing and presenting an introduction of the speaker. Whew! With so many advance details to consider, it is no wonder that some meeting planners forget one of the most important times for the speaker??how to graciously exit after the speech!
Many big name speakers who have been through this routine thousands of times before have their agents arrange the contract carefully to arrange no more than ? hour for a reception either before or after the speech. They know the value of their time away from the crowds. It is the job of the meeting planner to be the buffer and tell the fans that Mr. or Ms. Celebrity has to catch a plane in 1 hour and has to be going. Most people respect that and let the star move on. But what about the rest of the speakers? How important is that time to them? And how can you tell whether or not the speaker is thrilled about staying around chatting with curious audience members, or dying to get the heck out of there and go to call their spouse and talk to their kids?
As a former celebrity agent and now a speaker myself, I have the advantage of coming from two perspectives. The agents' job is to convince the meeting planner to rush the star home. As a speaker, I know the importance of spending some personal time with the audience to reinforce the friendly and supportive speech I just delivered?..up to a limit.
Recently I delivered workshops on Public Speaking and Professional Coaching. In order to arrive at the location, I had to get up several hours before my flight to fight traffic to get to Newark airport one hour in advance. I had a transfer planes in St. Louis after an hour layover. At 3:00 I arrived in the desigated location, had to rent a car and drive and hour and ? to the hotel sight. You get the point. By the time the speaker arrives, he or she could be tired and needs a bit of a rest before presenting.
The weekend was a huge success, but immediately following the event, the meeting planner was no where to be found. One of the audience members who was on a "high" from the weekend wanted to share every last detail of her own life with me. While I tried to maintain a certain amount of sincere interest, I was also so mentally and physically exhausted because I had given every ounce of my heart and soul to the participants during the weekend. At this point, I needed the meeting planner to be my buffer and quickly move me on out of there. But, I politely listened, and slowly walked out the door to my car, and finally explained that I'd be available via email to continue the conversation. With that, I tumbled into my car and excited the scene.
As a meeting planner, discuss the exit routine with the speaker in advance. Do they like to hang around afterwards to chat and if so, for how long? Do they want to create a "code" that will alert the meeting planner that the speaker is ready to go and should be shuffled out the door? Should it be announced in advance of the talk that the speaker will have to catch a plane immediately following the event and has to leave soon thereafter? Or as a meeting planner friend of mine, explained after hosting the famous and brilliant speaker Les Brown, that he had "performed so actively and intensly on stage and had worked up such a sweat during his performance that everyone understood his desire to exit!"
If you aren't working with an agent or a meeting planner, the best bet is to announce the amount of time you'll be spending after the seminar to address questions and answers. If you know that 1/2 is as much as you can spare, then announce it up front so no one will tie up all of your time. Additionally, give out your email address and suggest that if you don't have time to talk with everyone, suggest that they email you. Lastly, if you want to get the names and addresses of everyone in attendance, invite the audience to see you after the event for some free information. This is a great way to get THEIR information without imposing.
Speakers need you to help them maintain their positive image and caring attitude by helping them graciously exit the floor when they are ready to go. Some speakers love the personal contact for hours after the speech and have the energy to do so. Others are ready to exit after a few brief moments. So next time you are discussing the details before the event, be sure and discuss the best attack for the inevitable and timely "exit routine" so your speaker goes out loving the event instead of regretting it!
Mary Gardner , The Charisma Coach! is an Executive Communications Consultant and Trainer. She works with, coaches and trains individuals, sales teams, executives, and celebrities. She owned and operated one of the first coaching institutions on the east coast, CCI, in NYC, Philly and NJ. Mary has appeared on ABC's 20/20 and has self published a book on public speaking. Mary is married to Sway and is mommy to Jeremy 5, and lives in Orlando, FL.
Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org WEB: www.marygardner.com