Return on Inspiration

Happy-People-Celebrating-With--4086764If we are going to get meeting attendees to value meetings more, then we (actually, more you than me) are going to have to do a better job of explaining the value meeting attendees gain from attending meetings as meeting attendees.

One simple thing we could do, for example, is to put price tags on the table centerpieces. Once folks find out that each individually hand-carved Mahogany centerpiece designed to look like an exact replica of the forest in Avatar cost $11,237.47 apiece, people will begin to appreciate just how expensive it is to run a cost-effective meeting.

Ditto with the beverage service. When participants discover that the cost of the coffee cream and napkins is triple the amount they paid for the opening keynote speaker, people will value their coffee that much more, and begin to understand why the keynote speaker tanked. (Of course, that’s merely the cost of the cream and napkins, once they find out the cost of the entire coffee service their heads will explode with a new found appreciation of the value of things.)

These are, of course, only baby steps. Which is why some of you by now have already turned to your significant other and said, “This article is making no sense, do you want to make out?”, while others are asking the more salient question, “Is he going to talk about the real costs of things?”

You bet I am. Just watch me. Because I’m about to do it right now. Here it comes.

Environmentalists call this the “cradle-to-grave” cost of a product. For example, we need to let participants know the hidden environmental costs that went into making their environmentally-friendly dolphin-skin tote bags + plus the cost of the bag itself + plus the cost to recycle or dispose of the bag + plus the hourly wage of the person who disposed of the bag + plus the amount of carbon dioxide the person who disposed of the bag exhaled + the cost of his shoes.

By now you can probably understand why economists are prone to sitting down in public spaces and openly sobbing.

Of course, I can’t ignore the elephant in the room. Depending on the size and type of elephant you bring to an event, the costs can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And yes, we also have to talk about the metaphorical elephant in the room, namely the cost of bringing in top quality speakers. And by “cost” I actually mean the endless, ridiculously profound, universe-expanding value that speakers bring to the table. (Or actually, tables, unless it’s theater-style seating because you can’t afford the cost of the tables, in which case you may want to go the extra step and forgo the chairs.) And by “top quality speakers” I mean me.

So what is the value of a great speaker? Well, the formula to calculate a speaker’s value goes something like this: the lifetime, cumulative wisdom of the speaker + the amount of time the speaker spent looking up the client on Google + the cost of their wardrobe + the amount of time the speaker spent wondering what they could do with themselves on a Tuesday night in Thunder Bay + the time it took to get to Thunder Bay (or wherever the event is being held) + the time waiting for the emcee to shut up + the time on stage + the number of laughs generated x the number of thought-provoking head nods + the amount of time it takes to sell as much product as humanly possible + the time the speaker spent reflecting on how the talk went + the lifelong, life-changing, transformative, trans-mutational, substantive effects of the speaker’s talk on every audience member + the cost of all their shoes.

It’s not an easy formula to explain, which is why it is so effective during negotiations.

The bottom line is that sure, we can talk about the costs of things, but what meeting participants want to really understand is simply this: how much value am I willing to put on a chance to get away from my co-workers and family for three days?

And if we all start looking at meetings through that lens, then, as the commercial goes, the value really is priceless.

Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame business speaker, very funny motivational speaker and an international speaker, trainer and author of six books, including, most, recently, The Humor Advantage.  www.mikekerr.com

Copyright © 2016, Michael Kerr. All rights reserved.
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