15 Excellent Crowdsourcing and Crowd Sharing Sites for Events.

September 30, 2013

Crowdsourcing is the process of obtaining services, ideas, answers or content from a large group of people (typically an online community) rather than from traditional suppliers.  A range of crowdsourcing tools are emerging for sharing, funding, voting, and much more. Benefits include: lower costs, greater choice, and better input – all of which can be used in a variety of ways for events.

This will change the way meeting participants will get

Sleeping rooms:

Share travel:  

Co-create event content:

Review events:

Fund/promote events:

…to name a few.

Additionally, mobile audience polling devices can be used during and event for insight capture, for market research, and real-time feedback to assist in making strategic decision making.

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What Do Meeting Planners Expect and Want from Speakers?

January 30, 2013

Originally published in the National Speaker Association’s Professional Speaker magazine (Updated May 2012)

I have seen both sides of planning meetings: 18 years as a meeting planner running citywide international technology meetings and fifteen years as a professional speaker whose target audience is meeting planners. I have spoken before tens of thousands of planners for more than 40 meeting industry organizations in 31 countries. What do meeting planners want from speakers? Read on…

The meeting planner profile:
Meeting planners have a lot on their minds. Meeting planning can be compared to putting together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Every piece must be in place or there won’t be a complete picture. If the planner forgets or does not adequately communicate a need at a seemingly small event — a coffee break for example — or predicting the number that will attend a banquet the ramifications can be huge. With angry attendees and questioning bosses, chances for failure lurk at every turn.

The analogy of the duck stately floating on the top of the water while paddling like crazy beneath the surface has never been more apt. In well-planned meetings, things seem to flow seamlessly with meeting planners working almost invisibly behind the scenes. If something goes wrong, however, his or her job can become the “javelin catcher.”

Meeting planners are 75% female. Successful planners tend to have good people skills as well as excellent attention to detail. In general terms, they are garrulous, they like to work with people with whom they have established a relationship, and they typically possess a strong sense of fairness. They are also very good at networking.

Their job often hinges on the success of the meeting. Happy attendees and good evaluations are a part of how success is rated. Selecting speakers is often part of the job, but only a small part. They are usually juggling lots of balls.

What meeting planners expect from speakers: 

  1. For you to “WOW” the audience
    Your role is to move the audience. This can be accomplished in a number of ways: through a visually dazzling performance, a soul-stirring program that lifts the audience or an insightful presentation that gives new meaning and clarity to a topic.A trend in the meetings industry is to carefully measure ROI (return on investment) from meetings. The MPI (Meeting Professionals International) tagline says it well: “Defining the Power of Meetings.” To this end, speakers will see meeting planners use more evaluation forms, mobile polling apps other tools in determining future speakers and whether they will rebook you. Strategic planners know that what happens on the dais is crucial to the success of the event.
  2. Absolute reliability
    Once you are booked, planners need to count on the fact that you will be there as scheduled. Book your travel so that you have backup options in case a flight is cancelled or there is bad weather along your route. Be there early and be prepared. Plan for contingency backups for travel, A/V, course notes or anything else crucial to success.
  3. Absolute integrity
    This goes without saying. But to reinforce this, the meetings industry is very well networked. There are about 60,000 professional meeting planners in the U.S. and many belong to professional associations. And they talk. The word gets around quickly about suppliers with unscrupulous or unreliable business practices.
  4. Make the planner look good.
    The best way for a speaker to make the planner look good, of course, is to do a terrific job on the platform. But beyond this, nurture relationships with planners whenever you can. Let all of your actions with the meeting attendees shed a positive light on the planners. In the planning stages, the meeting planner will often appreciate your advice as an experienced speaking professional when it comes to how to structure your presentation, the timing and the events surrounding it. Send thank-you notes and praise their good work to supervisors if the opportunity allows. Never publicly criticize planners or their organizations — not only because it’s unprofessional but because planners often have a significant voice in whether to book speakers again.
  5. Quick responses
    With so much on a meeting planner’s plate, a quick response is often the difference between getting the booking or not. One trend in the meetings industry is increasingly for shorter lead times for meetings. We are all living in an age where FedEx is not fast enough. A quick response, preferably by e-mail within the day, or two days at the most, is what they expect. Either you or your staff, and preferably both, should have honed technology communications skills.

How speakers can help planners:

  1. Be flexible. 
    Back to the jig-saw puzzle analogy. Things are crazy behind the scenes at many meetings – thousands of pieces are being put together. Schedules change. Stuff happens! Speakers who can roll with the changes and still get great evaluations are like gold to planners.
  2. No prima donnas please!
    Be easy to deal with! Unless you are on the very top echelon of the speaking circuit and can ask for just about anything, remember that you are just a piece of the puzzle, albeit a very important one. If you are a prima donna, your chances of being rebooked will decrease. If you are particularly difficult, your reputation will precede you.
  3. Have a very clear, complete contract.
    Planners commonly have contracts with hotels, speakers and other suppliers. The trend in the last few years is for lengthier contracts that cover all of the contingencies. Planners want clearly written, balanced and complete contracts/letters of agreements. No legalese, please. Particularly important, in addition to times, dates, rates and place are: details on cancellation (both sides); reciprocal act of God (force majeur) clauses; what travel charges will be covered; specifics on A/V if you use it; and emergency contact information. I also routinely include in my contract the information I know they will be asking for anyway, such as my bio, a link to online high-resolution publicity photos, the full course description (with learner objectives), and anything else I think they need.
  4. Provide your information online. 
    Planners use the web to research hotels, cities, suppliers and  speakers. It is simply a more efficient route. I have followed the principle that anything that I would send out in paper, or any question about my speaking services that I get asked more than twice, I put online. My calendar, bio, publicity pictures (both high-resolution for printing and low-resolution for the Web), course descriptions, clients, testimonials, travel expenses, video clips, sample introductions, past speaking engagements, you name it – it’s all at my web site.The model changes a bit in working with speaker bureaus, but the trend is to put more information online instead of less. Planners prefer it.
  5. Be prompt and clear with your billing.
    To use an old Broadway phrase, “if it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage.” The implication is that any charges must be clearly detailed and agreed upon in your contract before you speak. There should be no surprises. My billing typically goes out no later than two days upon return to my office from the engagement. To speed delivery, I always send my invoice and scanned travel receipts as .PDF documents via e-mail.

For you speakers and planners reading this article: is there something you would like to add to this list? I am happy to provide updates as they are received.

1 of 13 Meetings Technology Predictions for 2013

January 16, 2013

©2012 Corbin Ball

These are exciting times. The rate of technology change is accelerating with thousands of ideas, apps and innovations bubbling up to help meeting planners, exhibitors, venues and attendees to do their jobs better.

This annual review published over the next 13 weeks will cover many of the major events tech trends to watch for this coming year.

1. Meetings technology will continue to get cheaper and easier to use.

This trend in software programming is driven by continued advances in web services  and open-source technology. This makes it easier, cheaper and faster to create, distribute and use technology to help in meeting planning.  There are hundreds of free, freemium, low cost, and do-it-yourself (DIY) options providing lower costs and more flexibility for planners. Examples include ContantContact’s new Online Event Registration starting at $20/month, a small fraction of typical online registration costs. Guidebookoffers a free meeting DIY mobile guide app with up to 500 downloads per event. Google Hangouts On Air offers free multipoint video conferencing, steaming and recording. Joomla provides free web site building and content management tools with over 9,000 plugins. …just to name a few! These forces are also driving mobile app development with hundreds of thousands for free or very low cost app available; many of them of great help to meeting professionals.

8 of 13 Meetings Technology Predictions for 2013

January 16, 2013

8. Internet video will see unprecedented growth for event marketing, communication and audience engagement.

Internet video has great opportunities for used for events. Videos can engage viewers, can increase retention of content, are accessible via many devices, and can be easily shared via social media channels. Videos can improve search engine rankings and video email marketing has fully trackable and higher click-through rates compared to traditional marketing methods. The costs to produce and distribute video from point of inception to delivery have reduced dramatically.

As events are visual, the visual nature video is a natural alternative to help market and extend the reach of events. Videos can be used before, during and after the event to convey the message and to improve attendance at future events. See the following whitepaper Using Video to Promote and Extend the Life of Your Events detailing referenced statistics and dozens of ways and ideas on how this is happening.

The development of BOBtv from bXb Online, a global online event platform designed specifically for events and associations supports this trend. It is a standardized way of making event video content available to remote attendees either live or on-demand and is the winner of this year’s EIBTM Technology Watch for meetings technology innovation, the industry’s longest-running and most prestigious meetings technology award. Endorsed by major meeting industry associations such as PCMA, ASAE and IAEE, this vendor-agnostic platform will curate event content and make it readily available to potentially a much larger global audience. In essence, BobTV, or similar technology, has the ability to become the moderated “YouTube” channel for event communication.

Going Native: iPad use is on the rise and event planners see the advantages

January 9, 2013

It’s no surprise that attendees are using the iPad more than ever at conferences and meetings.  Apple sold 11.8 million iPads during the first quarter of 2012, according to apple.com.   The device is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing mobile technology products in history.

The platform of the iPad makes it a perfect choice for meetings.  The at-a-glance aspect, screen size, ease of use, portability and speed of device all contribute to its popularity.

“The increase in iPad usage at our clients’ events is dramatic,” said Wendy Phillips, vice president of sales and marketing for Gather Digital, a mobile event app company.  “In May 2011, the iPad represented 0.8 percent of mobile device usage at our corporate and association events,” she said.  “In May 2012, iPad usage had risen to 36.5 percent.”

Because of increasing iPad usage, meeting planners are becoming more interested in event apps that are native to the iPad.  “Planners know their event attendees are using iPads more and more,” Phillips said.  “And they want to give them a native app to offer the best possible experience.”

Having a conference app that is native to the iPad takes advantage of the faster syncing capability, the enhanced graphics and the larger screen size.  Going native also allows the ability to seamlessly use other applications, such as email, as part of the conference app.

Dr. Virginia Schmith, a clinical pharmacologist and chair of pharmacometrics with the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, generally attends three conferences per year and prefers using her iPad when an app is available.  She appreciates the note taking feature that some apps offer.  “Many times you have to write a trip report,” she said. “Taking notes in the iPad is faster than writing notes.”  Schmith used an app recently that also organized the notes by session and allowed her to email them to herself for printing or saving to her desktop computer.  “And the name of the session automatically shows up in the notes.  It probably saves an hour’s worth of time,” she added.

Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP, a meetings technology consultant and speaker is enthusiastic about the potential for iPads and tablet computers at events. “The instant-on, intuitive interface with screens large enough to manage documents, makes iPads and other tablet computers a natural for meetings and tradeshows. They provide benefits for all parties involved: attendees (rich media, interactive conference programs, networking and way-finding tools); exhibitors (for interactive kiosks, easier lead exchange systems, appointment scheduling and survey tools); hoteliers (an intuitive, portable sales tool); and meeting planners (paperless conference binders eliminating the need to carry around 4” thick, 3-ring binders full of paper).“

Ball feels that “mobile technology will likely change events more in the next five years than technology has in the last twenty years. We are in the golden age of app adoptions for events. Very soon, if you do not have an app for an event, attendees will wonder why the event is so behind the times.”

A good native app will allow the planner to have control of content, including images, text and corporate branding.  It should also offer sponsor opportunities within the app, high attendee usability with options like messaging, one on one meeting functionality, immediate schedule updates, maps, customized my schedules, note taking ability and a social media aspect, according to Phillips.

6 of 13 Meetings Technology Predictions for 2013

January 3, 2013

6.  Event Wi-Fi problems will get worse before getting better.

This demand for Wi-Fi at events is growing by high double-digit numbers each year. Tablet computers, on average, use 400% more bandwidth than other mobile devices and are becoming the fasted adopted technology hardware ever. Attendees have multiple mobile devices and expect the same broadband experience they receive at home and office – even though there may be thousands of people trying to access the Wi-Fi signal simultaneously. The recent Dreamforce Conference 2012 in San Francisco had over 10,000 simultaneous Wi-Fi users. The London Olympics logged more than 1 million Wi-Fi accesses on the BT network during the games. 5,000 attendees at the London Frieze Art Fair consumed more than t terabyte (1 thousand billion bytes of data).

The good news is that the technology exists to provide very high density delivery of Wi-Fi. Xirrus provides Wi-Fi arrays that can handle up to 1,792 simultaneous users from a single access point.
The bad news is that the equipment and bandwidth is expensive and many meeting venues are lagging far behind in the ability supply the increasing tsunami of demand. Both meeting planners and venue sales people need to educate themselves and, at times, each other on this very important, but technologically complex, issue. Two articles that can help are: Understanding the Internet Landscape at Hotels and Convention Centers — A Primer for Event Organizers and How to Discuss Your Event’s Wi-Fi Needs — A Primer for Event Organizers.

Meetings & Tradeshows– There’s A Mobile App for That!

December 30, 2012

In 2000, I made the following prediction at the CIC Forum in Washington DC:

“Mobile phones will morph into ‘widgets’ (wireless internet devices for geo-positioning, ecommerce and telecommunication).”

I went on to forecast that our phones will become web browsers, “Walkmen” (iPods were not invented yet), still/video cameras, GPS systems, email managers, calendar/contact managers, micropayment systems and more.

Here is the actual slide shown at the conference:

What fueled my interest was the potential that mobile applications held for meetings. Meetings are mobile and inherently in need of mobile technology to manage event data!

What a difference a decade makes! All these predictions have come true and mobile apps are now the hottest line of software development. There are hundreds of direct applications for events, tradeshows, associations and venues.  Here are several of the significant ones.

Multipurpose conference applications:

These “Swiss army knife” applications provide multiple tools bundled in one application:

QuickMobile www.quickmobile.com

Quick mobile was the mobile application for the MPI MeetingDifferent and will be for the MPI WEC. It also used at major film festivals including Sundance and Tribeca. Features include: full conference schedule, personal agenda building, area guide (with Frommer’s integration), search capabilities for attendees/speakers/exhibitors, integration with social media including Twitter/Facebook/Pathable and messaging. They build apps for the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android and mobile web providing greater ease of use than companies that provide only mobile web versions.

Follow Me www.core-apps.com

Follow Me was the mobile app for the 2010 Consumer Electronic Show, one of the largest shows in the tradeshow industry. Features include a full conference schedule, personal agenda builder, maps, exhibit hall way-finding (you are a dot on the map), course notes/literature pick-up, session alerts, Twitter integration, and sponsorship revenue sharing. They also build native apps for the major smart phones ( iPhone, Android, Blackberry) and mobile web for the rest.

EventKaddy www.eventkaddy.com

Similar to QuickMobile and Follow Me, EventKaddy provide native apps for most  smart phones. Shows include the large 2010 Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas, Features include full conference listings, customized attendee agenda building, attendee networking tools, interactive floor plans/maps, multimedia listings for exhibitors, digital coupons/brochures/course notes (in .pdf), conference alerts from show organizer to attendees, with extensive metrics.

EMA www.epromeetingapps.com

EMA provides multiple-platform mobile web applications (iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and mobile web) including conference agenda, exhibit directory, conference alerts, hotel information, local area resources, attendee messaging and social media integration.

Zerista www.zerista.com

Zerista is as an online networking/ business matchmaking tool, but as now put much of their emphasis on mobile networking apps. Their mobile community application Zerista Pro was used at the Mobile World Congress with more than 20,000 users. Features include mobile web meeting scheduler, attendee directory, personal profiles, attendee matching, social media integration (Twitter/Facebook), personal scheduler, full agenda, exhibitor directory, booth locator, virtual booths, floor plans, and local guides.  

Event Media Concept’s Mobile Concierge www.eventmediaconcepts.com

Mobile web applications providing conference agenda, exhibit directory, conference alerts, hotel information with GPS mapping/star ratings, local area resources with GPS mapping, attendee messaging and social media integration.  Mobile web applications tend to be slower and not as user-friendly as native applications built for specific phones. On the plus side, nothing needs to be downloaded to have it work.

VisionTree www.visiontree.com

VisionTree is a service company focusing primarily on the pharmaceutical industry.  They provide mobile handsets similar to an audience polling service which can be supplemented by attendees mobile phones.  Features include audience polling, text Q&A, feedback forms, conference agenda, speaker bios.

A2ZInc’s ChirpE www.a2zinc.net

A2ZInc has been a pioneer in web-based exhibit floor plan sales, mapping and management providing services for more than 600 shows per year. They are also developing a mobile application called ChirpE. This mobile web application includes a full conference agenda, event alerts, exhibit guide, exhibit floor plan, social media integration with LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter, and personalized agenda building.

A2Z has gone to great lengths to build a mobile platform that will work well with other mobile and web apps including strong matchmaking tools. They have also built some of the best social media integration and aggregation tools for mobile apps for the events industry.

Meetings2Go http://meetings2go.mobi/

This is another mobile web-based product with agenda, exhibitor information, basic surveys, searchable attendee list, basic city guide, and SMS alert sign-up.

Mission Software

http://event-master.com/mobile_phone_service_key_features.html

Mission Software, based in the UK, has Mobile Phone Service providing a range of mobile web and on-demand text services for events including agendas, exhibit information, travel info, SMS messaging, and SMS voting.

Text messaging event information services:

Text messaging has some advantages. It is cheap, is accessible on virtually all mobile phones. Here are two similar products incorporating this technology:

SNIPP www.snipp.com and XIPP www.xnip.comn

These two nearly identical products work like this: Identify everything of interest at an event (people, exhibit products, exhibit booths, course notes, articles, weblinks, etc.) with a unique ID code (e.g. A345B). Then text message this ID code to 76477 (S-N-I-P-P) for Snipp or 29292 (for Xnip). Then attendees can access the information collected anytime via a personal web page at the Snipp.com or Xnip.com websites. This provides inexpensive, paperless, and digital ways of accessing event information.

Audience polling and surveys:

Audience polling devices are a great way of stimulating attendee interaction and finding out what they are thinking. However, traditional keypads can be beyond the budget for many events (from $3-12/person/dar). Phone based polling/survey systems, although not as fast or capable as keypads, can be right for some events.

Traditional surveys methods are problematic. Paper surveys are inefficient in tallying and end in landfills. Web surveys often are captured days after the event when impressions are cold often resulting a low response rate. Alternatively, mobile survey tools are low-cost, low in environmental impact, efficient in data collection and capture the data while the impressions are fresh.

Here are several mobile survey products:

NearPod (www.nearpod.com)
iPod and iPad applications for surveys, data collection, prize give aways, presentation tools, and metric tools with applications for meetings and trade shows.

Validar (www.validar.com)

Validar is primarily an exhibitor lead management/intelligence company. Their SMS Survey product provides text messaging surveys at events. Ask attendees questions about the keynote speaker or solicit advice on which sessions met expectations and which fell short. Attendees can respond to surveys using any SMS-enabled device, such as a PDA, cell phone, or smart phone. This system has the capability to ask answer several questions with one text message, making it more convenient survey tool than those using a separate text message for every question.

Zuku (www.zukuweb.com)

Similar to Validar, Zuku provides low-cost text messaging (SMS) polling and Q&A. Responses can be projected live.

Plug and Poll (www.plugandpoll.com)

Plug and Poll is a Dutch firm providing similar SMS polling services.

PollEverywhere (www.polleverywhere.com)

PollEverywhere provides SMS polling and Q&A sessions. They also integrate with Twitter and mobile web responses, and, as with standard audience polling systems, results can be projected live. These polling questions can be integrated directly into a PowerPoint program making it easy for a speaker to use it. Try it for free for up to 30 responses.

Lead retrieval:

Traditional lead retrieval is one-way (from attendee to exhibitor), location bound (at the exhibit booth), and expensive for the exhibitor. Mobile lead exchange provides two-way, less expensive, digital ways to exchange contact information anywhere at the event.
DUB – Mobile Business Card Networking www.dubmenow.com
This app was used at the South-By-Southwest 2010 (SXSW), the same Music and Media conference where Twitter debuted two years ago. This app works with iPhone and Blackberry (with Android, and Window Mobile Media coming) to exchange electronic business cards. It allows you to locate people near you at a conference or send your card via SMS or email. This automatically syncs with your phone address book and updates to contacts are updatee automatically. It also integrates with LinkedIn and Twitter.

Bartizan’s iLeads www.bartizan.com/index.php?id=62

Bartizan has been a traditional lead retrieval service for more than 30 years. Their new iPhone app is a tacit admission that the traditional lead retrieval model is on the way out. iLeads is an iPhone/iPad app giving each attendee at a tradeshow a unique 4-6 digit code printed in 16pt.font on their name badge. Those with access to the iLeads database (usually exhibitors) log into a specific event on their iPhone, type in attendee’s 4-6 digit code, and then can see (and record) the full contact information. There are built in qualifier questions, seven standard action codes and an area for notes. All leads are date/time stamped and, using the phone cam, a contact’s photo also can be attached.

Digital show guides:

A primary focus for these apps are on the exhibitor information and floor plan:

Taptopia (www.taptopia.com)

Interactive maps, schedules, and exhibitor info for the iPhone and iTouch sold through the iTunes store.

Member management for associations:

Associations are moving to use mobile tools to provide member services. The major association management companies are expanding their product lines to include these options. Here is a stand-alone one:

VoracitySolutions: (www.voracitysolutions.com/products/mobilemembership)
A range of membership and association mobile web management tools including member directory with full contact info, member photos, personal contacts, special interest groups, staff roster/contacts, and member alerts.

Attendee management:

This will likely be a hot development area where meeting planners will be able to access all online event registration and housing data through their mobile phones.

Ooto (www.ootoweb.com)

Otto is one such example. Veteran designers from the pioneer meetings technology company SeeUThere have built a revolutionary attendee management/online registration product. It has full mobile integration so planners can access all attendee/housing data from an iPhone. The registration product is free for the first month and then only $49/month thereafter with no transaction fees.

Venue and Location Concierges

These applications are designed for the venues to provide to attendees or hotel guests:

SwiftMoble (www.imswift.com)

This nicely designed iPhone application helps conference attendees at convention centers. The “myBCEC” app designed for the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is a good example of what other venues could do.  The app contains a full, interactive venue map, local area restaurant/services information, the event calendar for the facility (with Twitter event hashtag links), transit information (including airport departures, traffic alerts, directions, parking information, subway alerts), a wide range of information about the venue (venue twitter feed, lost & found), and exhibitor information (utilities, AV, F&B, cleaning, etc.).

RunTriz (www.runtriz.com/hotel)

RunTriz is a pocket concierge for hotels. Hotel guests can order room service, view the drink menu, contact housekeeping, receive messages from the hotel front desk, schedule a wake-up call, arrange transportation, and view local shopping, restaurants and nightlife. If you don’t have an iPhone, participating hotels will loan you an iTouch.

Geovative GeoTours (www.geovative.com)
Geovative provides destination marketing using multimedia GPS tours with mobile apps.

Micropayment Systems/Near Field Communication:

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a short-range (about 4 in.) wireless communication standard used in Europe. Primarily designed for making quick payments, residents of Estonia, for example, can tap their phones on a parking meter or at a rapid-transit turnstile, making a immediate and easy transaction form the ‘e-wallet’ stored on their phone. Nokia and Samsung are among the phone manufacturers that currently offer NFC and there are rumors that the next generation of iPhone will have it as well. NFC provides great potential for meetings including lead exchange, electronic ticketing, and micropayments. If the new iPhone adopts this standard, NFC will become huge in the tradeshow arena.

ITN International (www.itn-international.com)

ITN, a high-end registration company, is a pioneer in using NFC for events and tradeshows. They provide innovated capabilities for attendee tracking, lead data collection, event micropayment systems and more.

Consumer mobile apps with event applications:

Although this article focuses on event-specific mobile applications, there are few consumer app that bear a brief mention:

Foursquare www.fourquare.com and Gowalla www.gowalla.com

These location-aware mobile applications allow people to check-in at a location to network with others and to share with friends. Although originally used in restaurants, bars, etc. these are starting to be used for events.  Both were used at the 2010 South By Southwest Music and Media Conference in Austin.

Bump

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bump/id305479724?mt=8

iPhone app to share contact information and photos.

WebEx Meeting Center

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cisco-webex-meeting-center/id298844386?mt=8

iPhone app to tap into schedule, attend and start WebEx online meetings

Things

http://itunes.apple.com/app/things/id284971781?mt=8

iPhone task management

Google Goggles

www.google.com/mobile/goggles

Built for Android phones, this product holds great promise for augmented reality applications. Simply point your phone cam at a restaurant or other object, and get a link to the website. Take a picture of a business card and it converts it to data in your mobile contacts… And much more!

These are just a few! There are likely hundreds more meeting-specific applications on the way and tens of thousands of consumer mobile apps that can help attendees, meeting planners, exhibitor and meeting suppliers at events and tradeshow.  Finally, these ‘widgets” have become a reality and much more will come.


Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP is a professional speaker and consultant focusing on meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity He can be contacted at his extensive web site:www.corbinball.com.

Using Video to Promote and Extend the Life of Your Events

November 14, 2012

©2012 Corbin Ball Associates

Internet video is seeing unprecedented growth for communication and marketing. This paper will cover this impact of this growth for promoting and extending the life of events with examples and ideas for improvement.

Video in Society

The use of internet video is growing at an exponential rate. There are several intertwining contributing factors:

Growth of online video:

The number of videos watched in the US grew by 660%.from February 2011 to February 2012. At the same time, the number of hours of online video watched by an average user increased by 60% to 21.8 hours per month.  US viewers watched nearly 38 billion videos during the month of February 2012 along with 7.5 billion video ads with Google’s YouTube generating the highest number of views at 16.7 billion1.

YouTube and other video sharing sites:

Consider the following YouTube statistics, the largest video sharing site and the 3rd largest internet site in the world after Facebook and Google 2, 3

  • Hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute:      60 hours
  • Number of videos viewed on YouTube everyday:          4 billion
  • Number of unique visits to YouTube every month         800 million
  • Hours of video watched on YouTube each month           3 billion hours
  • Percent of YouTube visitors that come from outside the U.S.      70%
  • Number of countries with localized versions of YouTube               42
  • Total number of languages YouTube is broadcast in                        54
  • Total number of views YouTube had in 2011                              1 trillion                         (140 views for every person on Earth)

As highly trafficked as YouTube is, it draws less than 40% of online video visits with many other video sites drawing significant traffic as well4.

Growth of internet connected television:

DisplaySearch forecasted in July, 2011 that 200 million connected TV devices will ship in 18 months5.  This, combined with Internet-enabled devices connecting TVs including Xbox (23 million+ customers), PS3, Wii, Apple TV and Roku totals to about 300 million TVs connected to the Internet in the next 18 months6.

Mobile video:

A top activity for mobile users is mobile video. For the first time, video accounted for over half of all mobile data traffic (52%). By 2016, video will be over 70% of traffic. The number of mobile devices will exceed world’s population in 20127.

Tablets:

Touch tablet computers are on track to become the fastest growing technology hardware in human history8. Market research firm IDC has raised its forecast for tablet sales in 2012 indicating that it saw greater than expected shipments in 2011. IDC now expects consumers will buy 106.1 million tablets in 2012 – a 54 percent increase from 20119.  By 2016, mobile-connected tablets will generate almost as much traffic as the entire global mobile network does in 2012 and much of this will be video10.

Social media impact:

YouTube statistics indicate a very strong connection between video and other social media11:

  • 500 years of YouTube video are watched every day on Facebook, and over 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter each minute
  • 100 million people take a social action on YouTube (likes, shares, comments, etc.) every week
  • More than 50% of videos on YouTube have been rated or include comments from the community
  • Clicks on the ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ button on YouTube have doubled since the start of 2011. For every ‘dislike,’ YouTube gets 10 ‘likes’- people like to tell other people about the stuff they love.
  • People now watch over 2 billion videos per day – on YouTube alone! That is almost twice the prime time audience of the three major television networks put together12.

To conclude, internet video is heavily used in the U.S. and globally and it will continue to grow substantially in these next few years.

Benefits and Reasons for Internet Video Growth                                                                                                 

Engagement:

Simply stated, video is more engaging and compelling than other media. It is an easy way to present information with no reading required! People are accustomed to television and like to watch video.

Video combines pictures, sound, text and movement to create an impact far greater than individual elements and far more than a web page of text could ever provide. People tend to watch more than they read or listen. Web videos allow viewers to sit back and absorb the message, just as presented to them. What could take many paragraphs or even pages of text to communicate can be presented in just a few engaging moments. Web videos captivate, engage and entertain site visitors.

Increased retention:

Studies show that most people are visual learners13. Other adult learning studies show that we remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, and a huge 50% of what we hear AND see14! Video can make a typical website up to 300% more effective for audience retention15.

Accessibility:

Internet videos are viewable on many sources including computers, phones, tablets and, increasingly, television.

Sharing:

With social media links and integration, videos are an ideal channel for sharing content to an audience. If done right, the multiplying impact of viral videos (those that are shared widely) can quickly spread a message. Videos are an ideal channel for sharing value added content to your audience.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

A 2010 Forrester Research study found that videos are 53 times more likely to generate a first-page ranking than traditional SEO techniques16. Google’s universal search showcases video content on the first page and, usually prominently above the fold (the top part of the webpage which you can see without scrolling). Video is a significant opportunity to drive traffic, leads, and, ultimately, business through your website by executing a basic video content strategy.

Higher click-through rates compared to traditional email:

Video email is more likely to be opened than traditional email. Video email marketers detail this. In one case, in first quarter of 2012 video mail had a 66% click-through rate, and a 21% unique click-through rate. This compares to an average of a little over 5% for traditional text email17.

Video email offers the recipient more information in a shorter time. The email message with the vdieo “play triangle” in a picture is visually more appealing than text, and is easy to access on most mobile devices as well. The email tools offer social media links for sharing and videos, if done well, are likely to get played multiple times.

Tracking:

Video views can be tracked, and, in some cases extensive details on view behavior can be obtained. Depending on the video distribution product, view receipts, viewing times, length of view, repeat views are just a few of the tracking behaviors available. With outbound marketing campaigns, personalized URL’s (PURL’s) can be used to create unique links per recipient with unique tracking codes to determine viewer identities without a guestbook or login requirement. Others viewers can be tracked can be done using a “guestbook” registration form. These data can be very helpful in marketing efforts.

Plummeting Costs:

From equipment to distribution channels, the cost of video production is a fraction of what it was just a few years ago. Video hardware continues to get smaller, better quality and cheaper each year. HD video cameras are in our mobile phones.  A video production and streaming studio “in a 9-pound box” with switchers, special effects generator, multiple audio/video inputs/outputs is available for under US$5,000 from Roland Systems Group among others. This replaces what used to be hundreds of thousands of dollars and palates full of equipment.

Good basic video editing software is free from both Apple and Microsoft and the cost for very high-end editing software has plummeted over the years as well.

Distribution channels are also getting less expensive. Skype provides free HD video conferencing. Google Hangouts and Hangouts On Air provides free multi-point video conferencing and streaming tools. The cost for professional web streaming is also lower than in past years.

Although professional video production capabilities are often needed for events, the above trends are making it less expensive to provide these services thereby enabling video at many more events. When done correctly, video delivers extraordinary economies of scale and measurable results.

Simply stated, video is not a trend. It is an imperative. Attendees and viewers today demand engaging and interactive content. They expect that content to be highly functional, highly intuitive and highly intelligent. Video delivers all of that. It’s an innovative and non-intrusive way of marketing.

Video for Events                                                     

Events by their nature are visual and social. Events are content creators. Events are a natural for video to help engage attendees before, during and after meeting. There is a multiplicity of ways that this can take form:

Before the event:

Events are content generators. There are speakers, entertainers, exhibitors, gala dinners, and satisfied attendees from past events. All are natural to include in email and online promotions for an upcoming event.

Here are a few suggestions in making this happen:

  • Create a video from the CEO, show organizers, and/or key volunteers about why viewers should attend this meeting. This promo clip can give a quick overview of the coming highlights of the event, speakers, performers, networking opportunities, topics, giveaways, how to register, “save the date” information and much more. Include a specific call to action (i.e. register by specific at a specific webpage) if possible.
  • Post this video to YouTube, at your web site, and use embedded video links in promotional email regarding the event. Video links have demonstrated a much greater click-through and share rates compared to standard email increasing the impact.
  • Most speakers, musicians, and other entertainers have YouTube clips. Post these on and aggregated “video page” at your event website.
  • As part of the speaker contract, ask speakers to create and post to YouTube a short video promo about what they will be speaking at the event.
  • Create a YouTube Channel to aggregate these video in one spot.
  • Post these promotional videos on your Facebook Page, Facebook Event Page, LinkedIn Company Page, LinkedIn Event Page, and other social media channels.
  • Create a Pinterest page to aggregate these YouTube videos as well.
  • Post links to this video promotional content on Twitter.
  • Create and promote an event twitter hashtag to promote as a search vehicle through all social media channels including video.

During the event:

Live events are replete with content opportunities to use video to extend the footprint of the meeting and for promotion of the next event. Consider some of the following:

  • Webcast the keynote addresses and other key portions of the event extending the event far beyond the four walls of the meetings space. Video brings and extra dimension that is more impactful than other media channels. A video production crew should be used for high profile video production.
  • Stream portions of your event to remote audiences in a hybrid meeting format or as a webcast to increase the footprint of your event.
  • Use produced video to provide compelling introductions and content during general sessions.
  • Video record your CEO or other executives discussing something cool, new or important about your company, association or a specific product.
  • Encourage speakers to incorporate video in their presentations to provide compelling, time efficient and engaging ways of describing elements, product demonstrations.
  • Bring in remote speakers (either by design or to fill in for missed flight connections) using streaming video.
  • Content capture the video of the educational session for delivery on demand after the event either for a fee, for certification programs, or as promotion of next year’s event.
  • Record the video for event press releases to increase the impact:  Press releases that include video components have received a 500% increase in views17.
  • Interview speakers at the event and use this video for additional web content.
  • Interview satisfied attendees at the event to use to promote the next event. Ask them why they came, what they have learned, and what they liked. This will likely produce lots of great content for promotional videos. People love the attention and these videos will likely be shared with their friends and colleagues.
  • Video record the galas and other special events to show viewer what they missed as promotion for the next event.
  • Live stream an event channel from the exhibit hall with interviews, commentary and other content.
  • Interview the “top 10” exhibitors or the ones with the most creative or innovative content to combine in a compelling video to provide content and increase exhibitor exposure.
  • Exhibitors can use video in creative displays (3D video, interactive iPad video, video walls, etc.) to attract and engage exhibit attendees to their booths. Video can provide high-quality and focused messages about services/products that can be compelling to visitors. On-demand video can answer specific questions freeing staff up for other interactions.
  • Exhibitors should create videos of demonstrations of their product to post on YouTube and have on demand at their boot.
  • Encourage attendees to upload their event experiences videos to YouTube, Facebook and other social media channels using the event hashtag in the title and description.
  • A video wrap-up at a closing session is often a great way to remind your audience of the event highlights and key topics and themes covered, saying thanks to the attendees, sponsors and those that made it possible.

After the event:

There are significant opportunities to use videos of the content generated during the event to extend the life of the meeting after the event and for promotion of future events.

Here are some of the ways that this is happening:

  • An edited video of conference highlights to showcase the event can be posted at the association, corporate or event webs and the social media channels, reminding attendees of what a good time they had and showing non-attendees what an excellent meeting they missed. Videos allow you to show rather than tell how spectacular the event was: the venue, the décor, the food displays, the impressive turnout, the exiting entertainment, and the amazing speakers. This content makes excellent material for a variety of marketing vehicles including blogs, other social media channels, mobile channels, email campaigns, and web content such as next year’s event website for promotion.  Include a “save the date” announcement within the video.
  • This video often times should be posted to YouTube to reach potentially a larger audience as well. It is recommended that this video be in high definition, short (about 3 minutes or less), and with care taken for using key words in the title, description and tagging.
  • Ask sponsors, participants, speakers and exhibitors to share event related videos on their social media channels, an easy way to greatly extend the impact of the video.
  • Video recordings of the sessions (all or part of them) can be posted for on-demand viewing (for pay, for free, with restricted access to attendees only, for members only, or open to everyone). This can be used for review for those attending the session; to enable attendees going to other sessions to see what they have missed; to provide benefit for members unable to attendee the meeting; or open to the public to advance an idea or as promotion for future events. Ideally, the video and audio should be combined with the PowerPoint slides and other presentation graphics though services such as Brainshark providing capabilities for all video presentations to be shared on all video platforms, with every view tracked.  Through a content delivery network and/or a customized event portal you can charge viewers to stream or download your conference videos. A portal acts as a one-stop-shop for all event content and presentations, ensuring maximum impact long after the event has ended. You can also use presentation “guest books” to capture viewer contact information, include survey questions to gather input, and track viewership to better forecast attendance and topics of interest for your next event.
  • Videos of key sessions can be highlighted throughout the year providing continuous fresh website content on a regular basis improving your web site traffic.
  • Videos are also great for testimonials.  Let your speakers, exhibitors, attendees and others sing the praises of your event. There is nothing like a satisfied customer telling potential customers how well your event or product works. The more details, the more believable.
  • A collection of exhibitor interviews of the best booths or most innovative products at a show can provide compelling content and is another vehicle for exhibitor visibility as well.
  • Feature sponsors in the promotional videos. If done right, they may use this video as a marketing tool getting more views about your event.

Conclusions

Internet video is widely used in society, is growing rapidly and has great opportunities for use in the events industry. Videos can engage viewers, can increase retention of content, are accessible via many devices, and can be easily shared via social media channels. The use of videos can improve your search engine rankings and video email marketing has fully trackable and higher click-through rates compared to traditional marketing methods. The costs to produce and distribute video from point of inception to delivery have reduced dramatically.

As events are visual, the visual nature video is a natural alternative to help market and extend the reach of events. Videos can be used before, during and after the event to convey the message and to improve attendance at future events.

New Meetings Innovation Trends Highlighted with EIBTM’s 2012 Technology Watch

November 8, 2012

©2012 Corbin Ball, Chair of the EIBTM Technology Watch Judging Committee

The EIBTM Technology Watch is the most significant and longest running technology award for the meetings industry. The goals are to recognize technology innovation and to highlight significant trends impacting meeting planners, attendees and exhibitors at events.

The winner and five honorable mentions for were selected from a tie-breaking record 56 applications. Six judges with experience in the meetings industry and technology but not currently selling any technology product scored the entries based on innovation, completeness of concept, and the value to the meetings industry.

The companies selected highlight several paths of technology innovation including the impact of video, event content curation/distribution, electronic course note/presentation file distribution, gamification, HTML5, indoor positioning and mobile matchmaking.

EIBTM TechWatch 2012 Winner: BOBtv
This year’s EIBTM Technology Watch award winner for meetings technology innovation goes to BOBtv from bXb Online, a global online event platform designed specifically for events and associations. It is a standardized way of making event content available to remote attendees either live or on-demand. Endorsed by major meeting industry associations such as PCMA, ASAE and IAEE, this vendor-agnostic platform will curate event content and make it readily available to potentially a much larger global audience.

The judging committee felt that two significant trends were shown in this entry: the move toward video as an event communication vehicle and the increasing ability to provide event content remotely for hybrid meetings. In essence, BOBtv, or similar technology, has the ability to become the moderated “YouTube” channel for event communication.

Honorable Mentions:
Additionally, five finalists were included by the judging committee honorable mention pointing to additional significant technology trends:

ATIV Software’s EventPilot is very robust interactive conference program/show guide mobile app built for large, complex scientific meetings with thousands of presentations and poster sessions. Provided in multiple native platforms including iPad, tablets and phones, it has a host of features to improve the attendees’ experience including a complete and searchable conference schedule,  personalized agenda builder, rich social media integration, mapping, networking, QR code integration, and sponsorship advertising opportunities. Similar features are found with a number of event apps.

The differentiator is the ability to for the attendees to read and take notes on presentation slides during the presentation. Similar capabilities can be found with posters and other documents. The presentation slides with notes then can be emailed to the user or other interested parties. This ability to attendees to see and take notes on presenter slides increases retention of the material and bridges a significant gap where events have gone paperless and no longer provide presenter notes in paper form.

MERA Labs NiceMeeting also provides presentation slides to attendees electronically with some additional features. The product turns attendee’s mobile devices, such as iPad, iPhone, Android tablet as well as notebook computers, into a full-featured personal presentation slide display units by enabling real-time presentation screen mirroring, chats, polling and files exchange between delegates. Speakers can use personal iPads and other devices to manage presentation, get questions from the audience and do polling. Event organizers can place sponsor’s adds in the service interface and grow their earnings from sponsorship.

Unlike EventPilot, NiceMeeting operates as a service rather than an app using local WiFi networks.

EventMobi is included for honorable mention for their pioneering work using HTML5 to produce rich, multipurpose apps for event attendees. With a few limitations, HTML5 is a simpler, faster and cheaper development app development model compared to building native apps and is reflected in lower costs and faster turnaround time.

EventMobi Fusion is the industry’s first ever event app that works across all devices and continues to function without an internet connection, allowing attendees to access their event app whenever and wherever without worrying about an unreliable internet connection.

Also recognized as part of EventMobi’s effort is their GamifyApp which consists of three different games, each designed to help meet different event objectives. They include Scavenger Hunt used to enhance team-building, Session+ used to enhance the educational experience at sessions, and Expo Game used to drive traffic to exhibitor booths. The use of mobile games to engage attendees, enrich the event experience and increase attendee retention is felt by the judging committee to be a very important trend. GamifyApp is one of the best examples on how this can be implemented for events.

Zerista is yet another multi-featured event app and web platform including attendee information, conference agenda, interactive mapping, surveys, social networks, exhibitor collateral, and matchmaking tags.

What stood out was Zerista’s very strong match making and social media integration. Included are:

  • Hyper relevant personalization and matchmaking for attendees.
  • Personalized Digital collateral libraries for session content, multimedia offerings, and exhibitor marketing documents
  • Automatic qualified lead generation and sales intelligence data for CRM systems for exhibitors.

Sherpa has consistently been an innovator for the meetings and tradeshow industries. A past winner of the EIBTM Technology Watch, Sherpa’s entries this year included three important advances.

WaveLocator is a unique indoor positioning system using ultrasound. Since GPS does not work indoors, and Wi-Fi-based systems can’t work on the iPhone, Sherpa came up with a new twist. Combined with ActivTouch, Sherpa’s mobile app, the microphone of the user’s SmartPhone receives specific codes used to help attendees to quickly identify their current location in the venue and map routes to discover different events, products, or exhibitors. Even better, users can quickly locate their friends and business acquaintances. WaveLocator, thanks to its quick set-up and accessibility via many types of mobile devices may be the best option for precise geolocation for events.
ActiveMetrics, is a unique attendance measurement system using the Wi-Fi signals transmitted by the attendees’s smartphones to generate heat maps to determine traffic patterns within an exhibit hall or meeting venue at a lower cost and more efficiently that previous methods of determining traffic flow.

Finally, Sherpa’s new version of their robust convention and exhibit guide apps (and winner of the 2010 WWTW Award) — ActivTouch V2, shows significant refinements from their previous version including advanced analytics, new customization options, and several new key modules like SmartReview, SmartRoute and ActivContact, all designed to help attendees better prepare their participation, manage their time on site and meet their business contacts.

This year’s tie for record number of entries:
The large number of entries (56 entries) points to the vitality of the meetings and trade show industries and how technology is increasingly used to improve the way events are managed.

Technology trends highlighted:
A number of trends were highlighted in analyzing the entirety of entries. As in the past year, mobile technology innovation was dominant (15 entries or 26% of all entries had a strong mobile component. Other trends include: Lead exchange/OR codes  (12%) eRFP/sourcing (11%), social media/matchmaking (9%), room diagramming/floor plans (9%), gaming (9%), registration and/or abstract management (7%),.document distribution (7%), and virtual events/tradeshows (5%).

About the WWTW Judging Committee:
Chair: Corbin Ball, CEO, Corbin Ball Associates
Michelle Bruno, President, Bruno Group Signature Events
Ruud Janssen, CMM, CEO, TNOC | The New Objective Collective
Paul Hussey, Business Development Director, BSI Meetings and Events
Bruce MacMillan, President/CEO, Bandwidth Management and former President/CEO of Meeting Professionals International (MPI)
Martin Sirk, CEO, International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA)

About EIBTM eibtm.com
EIBTM is one of the largest tradeshows in the meetings industry. The 2011 meeting had over 15,219 participants from over 90 countries. Included were 3,961 hosted buyers — top-level decision-makers bought to the event as part its Hosted Buyer Program. This year’s show dates are 27-29 November in Barcelona.

 

 

What Do Event Planners Want from Speakers?

June 1, 2012

Originally published in the National Speaker Association’s Professional Speaker magazine, 
July/August 2004 Issue (Updated May 2012)


I have seen both sides of planning meetings: 18 years as a meeting planner running citywide international technology meetings and fifteen years as a professional speaker whose target audience is meeting planners. I have spoken before tens of thousands of planners for more than 40 meeting industry organizations in 31 countries. What do meeting planners want from speakers? Read on… 

The meeting planner profile: 
Meeting planners have a lot on their minds. Meeting planning can be compared to putting together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Every piece must be in place or there won’t be a complete picture. If the planner forgets or does not adequately communicate a need at a seemingly small event — a coffee break for example — or predicting the number that will attend a banquet the ramifications can be huge. With angry attendees and questioning bosses, chances for failure lurk at every turn. 

The analogy of the duck stately floating on the top of the water while paddling like crazy beneath the surface has never been more apt. In well-planned meetings, things seem to flow seamlessly with meeting planners working almost invisibly behind the scenes. If something goes wrong, however, his or her job can become the “javelin catcher.” 

Meeting planners are 75% female. Successful planners tend to have good people skills as well as excellent attention to detail. In general terms, they are garrulous, they like to work with people with whom they have established a relationship, and they typically possess a strong sense of fairness. They are also very good at networking. 

Their job often hinges on the success of the meeting. Happy attendees and good evaluations are a part of how success is rated. Selecting speakers is often part of the job, but only a small part. They are usually juggling lots of balls. 

What meeting planners expect from speakers: 

  1. For you to “WOW” the audience 
    Your role is to move the audience. This can be accomplished in a number of ways: through a visually dazzling performance, a soul-stirring program that lifts the audience or an insightful presentation that gives new meaning and clarity to a topic. 

    A trend in the meetings industry is to carefully measure ROI (return on investment) from meetings. The MPI (Meeting Professionals International) tagline says it well: “Defining the Power of Meetings.” To this end, speakers will see meeting planners use more evaluation forms, mobile polling apps other tools in determining future speakers and whether they will rebook you. Strategic planners know that what happens on the dais is crucial to the success of the event. 
     

  2. Absolute reliability 
    Once you are booked, planners need to count on the fact that you will be there as scheduled. Book your travel so that you have backup options in case a flight is cancelled or there is bad weather along your route. Be there early and be prepared. Plan for contingency backups for travel, A/V, course notes or anything else crucial to success. 
     
  3. Absolute integrity 
    This goes without saying. But to reinforce this, the meetings industry is very well networked. There are about 60,000 professional meeting planners in the U.S. and many belong to professional associations. And they talk. The word gets around quickly about suppliers with unscrupulous or unreliable business practices. 
     
  4. Make the planner look good. 
    The best way for a speaker to make the planner look good, of course, is to do a terrific job on the platform. But beyond this, nurture relationships with planners whenever you can. Let all of your actions with the meeting attendees shed a positive light on the planners. In the planning stages, the meeting planner will often appreciate your advice as an experienced speaking professional when it comes to how to structure your presentation, the timing and the events surrounding it. Send thank-you notes and praise their good work to supervisors if the opportunity allows. Never publicly criticize planners or their organizations — not only because it’s unprofessional but because planners often have a significant voice in whether to book speakers again. 
     
  5. Quick responses 
    With so much on a meeting planner’s plate, a quick response is often the difference between getting the booking or not. One trend in the meetings industry is increasingly for shorter lead times for meetings. We are all living in an age where FedEx is not fast enough. A quick response, preferably by e-mail within the day, or two days at the most, is what they expect. Either you or your staff, and preferably both, should have honed technology communications skills.

How speakers can help planners: 

  1. Be flexible. 
    Back to the jig-saw puzzle analogy. Things are crazy behind the scenes at many meetings – thousands of pieces are being put together. Schedules change. Stuff happens! Speakers who can roll with the changes and still get great evaluations are like gold to planners. 
     
  2. No prima donnas please!
    Be easy to deal with! Unless you are on the very top echelon of the speaking circuit and can ask for just about anything, remember that you are just a piece of the puzzle, albeit a very important one. If you are a prima donna, your chances of being rebooked will decrease. If you are particularly difficult, your reputation will precede you. 
     
  3. Have a very clear, complete contract. 
    Planners commonly have contracts with hotels, speakers and other suppliers. The trend in the last few years is for lengthier contracts that cover all of the contingencies. Planners want clearly written, balanced and complete contracts/letters of agreements. No legalese, please. Particularly important, in addition to times, dates, rates and place are: details on cancellation (both sides); reciprocal act of God (force majeur) clauses; what travel charges will be covered; specifics on A/V if you use it; and emergency contact information. I also routinely include in my contract the information I know they will be asking for anyway, such as my bio, a link to online high-resolution publicity photos, the full course description (with learner objectives), and anything else I think they need. 
     
  4. Provide your information online. 
    Planners use the web to research hotels, cities, suppliers and  speakers. It is simply a more efficient route. I have followed the principle that anything that I would send out in paper, or any question about my speaking services that I get asked more than twice, I put online. My calendar, bio, publicity pictures (both high-resolution for printing and low-resolution for the Web), course descriptions, clients, testimonials, travel expenses, video clips, sample introductions, past speaking engagements, you name it – it’s all at my web site. 

    The model changes a bit in working with speaker bureaus, but the trend is to put more information online instead of less. Planners prefer it. 
     

  5. Be prompt and clear with your billing. 
    To use an old Broadway phrase, “if it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage.” The implication is that any charges must be clearly detailed and agreed upon in your contract before you speak. There should be no surprises. My billing typically goes out no later than two days upon return to my office from the engagement. To speed delivery, I always send my invoice and scanned travel receipts as .PDF documents via e-mail.

For you speakers and planners reading this article: is there something you would like to add to this list? I am happy to provide updates as they are received. Read the rest of this entry »


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