Brand name talent. Ugh. And, aahhh. There’s nothing like working with a professional speaker/singer/entertainer, is there?
They’re a pain in the backside, and they’re a blessing. They know exactly what they’re supposed to do, and they usually do it exceedingly well. But they can be SO high maintenance, SO expensive, and SO intimidating! Are they worth the trouble?
OK, so I’m generally in favor of a “known” keynote. Provided they are relevant to your audience. And, that’s the key. A brand name speaker’s success and value to your event hinges much more on YOU than on THEM. Pick the right speaker for your demographic, and you’re picking a winner.
Say you have a group of hardware executives. Generally (and stereotypically) male, middle-aged, cigar-smoking, Scotch-drinking, good-old-boys. I’m oversimplifying for the example, here, so play along. You wouldn’t hire Mary Lou Retton or Emeril Lagasse and expect to have a sell-out crowd, right? Those two would be way out of context with this group. But bring in Mike Ditka or Alan Greenspan and things are looking up.
Context. Relevance. Content.
Oh, yeah, content. Mike Ditka might be a super-cool and entertaining person (I’ve met him on a number of occasions, and wish he was more relevant to my own association so we could bring him in), but unless his message is also relevant to your group, he might not knock it out of the park (does that count as mixing metaphors?). Twenty minutes of talk about the state of football and where he thinks it’s going is great and all, but your hardware execs might still feel their time was wasted if that was his whole message. But, twenty minutes of talk about how to be a leader in your field, or how to motivate your “players”, and suddenly Da Coach has added something potentially useful to their lives.
More on how to work with brand name talent next time.