Controlling an agenda is not easy, especially when the guest speakers don't finish on time.
I was a motivational speaker at several events this month where guest speakers didn't finish on time. The keynote speaker at one large event finished 15 minutes early, also not a good option, so the event experienced attrition as delegates raced to their rooms for a quick nap.
One of the questions I hear a lot is "How long do you need to speak?" My response is usually, "How long do you have?" See our Blog Post How Long should a Guest Speaker Speak? Once the agenda takes form, confirm and double check that guest speakers know to stay in their allotted timeslot.
Some events are very flexible with their agendas and speakers finish whenever they feel like it. If you can't afford this in your content-rich agenda, be sure to communicate your expectation.
How to Keep your Guest Speaker and Agenda on Time
- Clearly communicate the timeslot to your guest speaker in email and in the contract and reinforce verbally that they are expected to speak for that time- no more, no less.
- At the event, before their speech, clearly communicate to the guest speaker any agenda changes and exactly what time they should wrap it up.
- Have a plan- if the speaker speaks too long, how will you force them off the stage? Cue cards, music to drown them out, start clapping or simply walk up and grab the microphone from them....
- Have a plan, part 2-if the guest speaker doesn't fill the timeslot...what will you do to keep delegates engaged and involved? Have fillers like fun interactive activities, a raffle etc to keep people in the room.