Three Degrees of Speech-Tailoring

Posted: September 9, 2014 in Meeting Planner
Tags: , , ,
One question The Speaker Experts hear on a daily basis from clients is “Will the speaker tailor their presentation for our group?” A direct and seemingly simple question, the answer in most cases is “yes”. However, when you have a candid conversation with professional speakers about presentations that did not go well, the common denominator is often the concept of speech customization.

The Speaker Experts feel there are three degrees of speech customization. Understanding where your speaker falls in this continuum of tailoring is the key to minimizing the risk of disappointment when it comes to the speaker’s customized content for your organization. Let’s examine these Levels:

No Speech Customization: These speakers are master storytellers, and their speech is an emotional roller coaster of a tale that tends to be synonymous to a one man play. Examples of speakers at this level are Gene Kranz, Flight Director of Apollo 13, and Dr. Beck Weathers, whose story is chronicled in the best-selling book “Into Thin Air” (the film adaptation is slated for release next year, starring Jake Gyllenhal and James Brolin as Dr. Beck Weathers). When these speakers tell their stories, it is up to each member of the audience to pull out content relevant to their personal life and career.
A breakdown in communication can occur if a speaker bureau sends a standard event questionnaire to the sponsor asking for detailed information and implying that the speaker will customize their presentation.

Standard Speech Customization:Most professional speakers will fall into this category. Clients receive an event questionnaire and participate in pre-event conference calls with the speaker to discuss the meeting and desired outcome for the presentation. Clients can expect the speaker to have an understanding of the following:

  • Who is in the audience and why they are there
  • The meeting theme and challenges facing the audience
  • Acronyms to use/not use
  • Where the speech fits into the meeting scheme, and the desired outcome for the presentation
  • Politically-sensitive areas to avoid during the presentation
  • Who else is speaking at the event and how said speaker’s content compares


Deep Speech Customization: This process combines the aforementioned components of standard speech customization, but can also include the following tools to help the speaker get a deeper understanding of the organization:

  • Multiple meetings with the organization’s leadership at various levels
  • Meetings with the organization’s clients, and in some cases, competitors
  • “Mystery” visits to franchises or places of business
  • Post event de-brief papers and follow-up
  • Social media pre- and post-event presence


The tailoring of a presentation by a professional speaker is an important element of the speaker bureau-speaker-client tripartite, and all three parties must be on the same page for the process to work effectively. If executed properly, a tailored speech is a work of art that will have a long-term impact on your audience.

The one trap to avoid is pushing the speaker into changing or customizing the presentation past their capabilities or comfort zone. You would not walk into a 5 star restaurant and tell the chef de cuisine, “I’ll have the Malaysian Beef Curry but replace the beef with fish, leave out the red shallots and double the ginger peel”. The dish-and the dining experience-would be ruined, as would being overly-enthusiastic about altering a speaker’s presentation. Show the speaker which a la carte options you would like and leave the recipe for success to the speaker. They have cooked this dish a thousand times and know what works!

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Elizabeth Hilla says:

    You make great points about various levels of speech customization. I would add that sometimes a speaker can OVER-do the effort to customize. We hire a speaker to discuss their own area of expertise, not to try to come across as an expert in our industry. We had a speaker who did multiple preparatory interviews with our members before his presentation. When he incorporated that information into his speech, it sounded like he was trying to tell our members that he knew more about our business than they did.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s