Posts Tagged ‘Jake Gyllenhaal’

In our blog post “Ten Questions to Ask Your Speaker Bureau (Part Two)”, we pose the question “Who is your favorite speaker and why?” as an issue to discuss when vetting a speaker bureau or agent. Since publishing this post last year, The Speaker Experts have been asked this question many times. Frankly, we have a number of favorite speakers that make this particular question a very difficult one to answer. However, if we had to select the speaker with the greatest impact, it would be Dr. Beck Weathers. Why? After seeing him speak for the first time in 1998, not many days go by where we don’t think about his message from 17 years prior. His is a gripping story that sticks with you for years to come – one of heroism, bravery, and ultimately, the human struggle against the forces of nature.

On August 7, 2008, Dr. Beck Weathers retired from the speaking circuit after a ten year run as one of the most in-demand inspirational speakers. However, Dr. Weathers has agreed to accept a select number of speeches in 2015-2016 to coincide with the September 18, 2015 release of the major motion picture EVEREST. Josh Brolin portrays Weathers in the film while House of Cards Star Robin Wright plays the role of his wife Peach. The film also stars Keira Knightley, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Sam Worthington.

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Closing Session at NRECA Annual Meeting
Orlando, FL – February 25, 2015

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Inspirational Breakfast at NADA Annual Meeting
San Francisco, CA – January 25, 2015

His first presentation back from retirement was a personal request from Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson asking Dr. Weathers to share his experiences with a select leadership group on Necker Island. Earlier this year, Dr. Weathers addressed over 5,000 auto dealer employees at the National Automobile Dealers Association Inspirational Breakfast. Last week he was the closing speaker at the National Rural Electric Co-Op Association Annual Meeting where he addressed over 7,000 of their members.

Dr. Weathers still runs a thriving pathology practice in Dallas but has agreed to accept a select number of speaking invitations for the remainder of this year and early 2016. If your organization is considering an inspirational speaker during this time frame who will leave a life-changing and lasting impression on every meeting attendee, contact your favorite lecture agent to discuss Dr. Beck Weathers’s availability.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

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