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A Meeting of the Minds Between Professional Speakers and Meeting Planners

As a  professional speaker, I know how important it is to be engaging during a presentation.  That’s why I proposed to my first (so far) wife from the stage. Sure the meeting planner was a tad shocked, but I got a wife out of it, the audience got to see something different, and most importantly of all, I got a standing ovation from all the women in the audience.

Now, having been on the other end of this audience-speaker romance,  I truly understand the value in engaging everyone effectively in a meeting.  You see, I was recently on a committee that

organized  parts of the convention programming,  and being on the meeting planner end of the sish kabob, I can now confidently speak out of both sides of my conventional mind:

Speaker side: I realize that you don’t pay your speakers for this event, but typically I charge a fee very close to Conan O’Brien’s buyout package, so would it be possible to at least fly me out to Business_Presentation_In_An_Of_456404your convention first class and offer me your first born child as compensation?

Meeting planner side: Our breakfast buffet includes eggs this year.  You’re welcome to go for seconds.

Speaker side: If you want my presentation to engage not only the minds in the immediate room, but to also engage the minds in the hotel next door (through the mysterious science of quantum physics) then I will require an LCD projector and screen,  overhead projector , flip chart, three microphones, a 10-foot extension ladder,  trampoline,  Murphy bed,  small wading pool,  1,000 gallons of diet Root Beer, two tamarind monkeys,  a ’67 canary yellow Ford mustang,  a life-size replica model of Cher, and a black felt marker.

Meeting planner side: Here’s the black felt marker you requested.

Speaker side: This is a very important convention, so it’s the perfect opportunity to test drive some new material that I have never tried out before—even on myself!   In fact, I haven’t even thought through how this sentence is going to…did someone say there would be eggs at this convention?  I wonder if now is the perfect time to show off how much I’ve learned in my three accordion lessons?  I feel like I should be dancing now.

Meeting planner side: Just say what you did that time before. You know, the time before when we saw you and chose you to speak at our convention, because that’s why, you know, we chose you to speak at our convention. Because of those particular words you used that time we saw you.  Just say those same words you used before in the same order you said them, and no one will get hurt.

Speaker side: I have valuable information to impart, and more importantly,  an ego the size of Conan O’Brien’s buyout,  so if I need to go over my time limit by a few hours,  the meeting planner should just breathe deeply and chill in the back forty with the rest of the speakers, who, yes, may have to be bumped, but if you ever watch late night television you’ll actually see that’s just part of the biz when an important speaker (such as me) takes up the bulk of the face time.

Meeting planner side: Speakers who go over their allotted time limit should be shot.  No cutesy little hand signals from the audience. No warning flags.  The emcee should simply walk out onto stage and shoot the speaker. Now, I’m not a rash man, so I’m certainly not suggesting it should be a fatal shot, but a grazing bullet to the left shoulder, or perhaps the kneecap, ought to send the signal loud and clear that your time with us is up.

Speaker side: Forget about the food, the venue, the special events, the fancy place settings on the table, or the convention bags,  the only thing that truly matters at a meeting are the speakers.

Meeting side: Forget about the food, the venue, the special events, the fancy place settings on the table or the convention bags,  the only thing that truly matters at a meeting are the speakers.

Wow, finally the two sides of my conventional brain can agree on something!  Which is just one of the many fabulous things that can happen when two parts of your mind finally get engaged and live happily ever after.

Just like me and my first (so far) wife.

Michael Kerr is an engaging Hall of Fame business speaker, accordion player, and  dancer who has an enormous amount of empathy for both meeting planners and speakers.  Reach Michael through or   His latest book is The Humor Advantage.


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