SPEAKER 1. (noun) one who makes a public speech.


Put together a binder with key information for your speakers and the forms that you need returned. Consider including the contract; a schedule of where the speaker needs to be; information on transfers, location of the VIP room and the speaker ready room; the menu for the days the speaker will be attending; forms for housing, travel, reimbursement, audiovisual equipment requests, and a speaker bio; format guidelines for handouts; details about the destination; and guidelines for speakers who want to sell products at your event.


Paid speakers don't expect gifts but do appreciate a great room at the hotel, a thank-you note that they can use as a testimonial, and on-time payments. Volunteer speakers, on the other hand, often expect — and deserve — a token of appreciation. In lieu of plaques and other gifts that typically end up in the “circular file,” consider making a small donation in the speaker's name to a recognized charity, or providing a gift that is sure to be used, such as a gift card to a bookstore or a laser pointer with the speaker's initials. Never forget the thank-you note.


When you book speakers through the Heart of America Foundation's Speaking from the Heart program, a percentage of the fees are donated to charities, including the Heart of America Foundation's youth programs. About 80 speakers are represented in the program, among them Jane Goodall, PhD; Wally Amos; and Jim Cathcart. www.heartofamerica.org


The National Speakers Association's Web site (www.nsaspeaker.org) includes sample speaker agreements to consider. Click on “meeting planners” and then “meeting planner resources.”


When several speakers are presenting back-to-back, many meeting executives insist that presentations be sent in ahead of time and loaded onto a central laptop. This saves time, since it can take more than five minutes to switch computers. If a speaker has changes, the presentation gets reloaded the day of the event. Best practices suggest that all presentations be backed up on CD-ROM and that a second laptop be available. While it is not ideal, many speakers insist on using their own laptops for their presentations. When this is the case, keep the program moving by attaching a switch box to the LCD projector, allowing you to flip back and forth between several laptops. Hook up the speakers' laptops at the beginning of the event, and then there's no time lost between presentations.

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