Etiquette Tips for a Guest Speaker

motivational speaker for HR Conference

I was a female motivational speaker for an HR Conference. The association also hired a top name motivational speaker, and the place was packed with people there to hear him speak. The crowd was abuzz with energy, anticipating the big speech.

To the sound of thunderous applause, loud music, and flashing lights, the motivational speaker took the stage.

He was dynamic, confident and engaging. However, some AV issues were causing the microphone to crackle, and the guest speaker was visibly upset. He mumbled something about, You come all this way, and they can't find a reasonable microphone. The crowd laughed at his frustration.

Later, I heard him berating a bell boy because he thought they had misplaced his luggage with his books for sale. Finally, I witnessed him pacing back and forth and cursing in the hotel lobby while waiting for his cab to the airport. A pattern seemed to emerge: This man was amazing on stage and a pain in the butt off the stage!

Not that I am an expert, but this post is devoted to simple etiquette rules for a guest speaker, from some great meeting planners I have worked with

It is possible for a meeting planner to build some of these into a speaking contract.

Guest Speaker Etiquette Tips:

  • Show up for your speech at least 30 minutes early.
  • Test the microphone and all AV before you speak.
  • Be respectful of the people who hire you. Never blame the meeting planner or the hotel for problems, delays or AV dilemmas.
  • Never verbally bash anyone when you speak.
  • Let the meeting planner know when you arrive at the hotel and if you have any delays in getting to the venue.
  • You are a guest speaker and as such need to be a positive influence, polite and respectful to everyone.
  • Never drink too much at the functions.
  • Keep your speech within the allotted time, no more, no less. Be flexible based on how the schedule progresses; you may need to cut back or add on as the event timing unfolds.
  • Don't over promote your products from the platform.
  • Take the time to know your audience.
  • Be a part of the convention experience, instead of just delivering an hour-long speech and immediately leaving. Network, attend other sessions, visit with people.

The motivational speaker for the HR Conference was fantastic on stage. It's too bad that he left a wrong impression off stage.  It is not good business or good manners, and those who select guest speakers are looking for the total package. With some simple etiquette reminders, guest speakers can make a tremendous all-around impression.

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