Choosing a speaker for an event can be fraught with peril. If you make the right choice, everyone goes home after a few chuckles or with great notes from an informative speech. Make the wrong choice, and you’ll be wishing for Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility as the event unfolds to icy silence. Professional speakers—those folks the speakers bureaus are always e-mailing you about—often have glowing resumes written by marketing folks who leave out one simple detail, namely that the ...

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