Spotlight On Speaking: Prima Donnas

I’ve heard it more than once from an event promoter. “Man, this guy is a pain in the ass to deal with. He won’t be coming back on my platform in the future.” What would cause an event promoter to feel this way? Two words–Prima Donna.

What makes a speaker a prima donna? It’s the speaker who seemingly has demand after demand and expects to be treated differently than every other speaker on the agenda. It’s the guy who insists on having only green M&Ms in a bowl on the stage (yes, that was a real request).

Spotlight On Speaking: Prima DonnasIt’s the lady who must have a very specific brand of bottled sparkling water chilled to exactly 57.6 degrees or the guy who demands to have a chauffeured limousine pick him up and drop him off at the airport at the proper time.

It’s the speaker who doesn’t tell the promoter he’s having product shipped in on a pallet and then shows up and expects the promoter to drop everything to get his products delivered, assembled, and packaged in the meeting room.

It’s the speaker who shows up with a full entourage and expects the event promoter to comp them tickets to the event and arrange special seating for them.

Or maybe it’s the guy who you’ve graciously provided a room for because you had a few comped rooms in your room block who then runs up a gigantic room service bill for food and alcohol.

It could be the lady who makes changes to the sales split in your contract with her and tries to sneak it by you.

Or the guy who ignores the large countdown clock in the back of the room and runs over on his time by 20 minutes and then, to boot, because he isn’t happy with his sales, begs the promoter for an additional few minutes before the end of the event to do another pitch from stage.

The speaking industry is a large one, but it’s also a fairly close- knit group. Event promoters talk to each other and, if you’re that prima donna who’s a pain to deal with, the word will get around. And while you might get on someone’s stage once and even possibly sell very well, the promoter likely won’t invite you back to his or her stage again because they just don’t want to have to deal with you.

Talk about a major hit to the long-term profitability of your speaking business!

If you have any special requests for an event promoter, you should always make them well in advance of the event. If you’re a keynote speaker then the person or organization who brings you in will typically cover your air fare, hotel, food, and transportation within reason, but find out that information during negotiation and make sure you get it in writing.

Main thing is there shouldn’t be any surprises for the promoter– they should know what they’re getting into when working with you up front. If you can negotiate that chauffeured limo–great! But to expect to be treated differently than every other speaker is simply not the way to go.

A humble “I’m here to help” attitude goes a long way to being the kind of speaker that an event promoter will want to deal with. You’re in it for the long haul, so cultivate and nurture your relationships with those who are running an event. You’ll have much greater success over your career it you are one of those speakers the event promoters love to bring to their stage.

And speaking of one of the quickest ways to get yourself uninvited from appearing on future stages by event promoters is to gain a reputation as a person who is only there to capture the names and email addresses of all the attendees.

This is known as ‘harvesting the list” and is typically done by offering something free or at very low cost during a presentation and encouraging the participants to go to a certain website and provide their name and email in exchange for something of value. There may or may not be an offer at the end of the presentation for a high-ticket item.

Event promoters work very hard to get people into their events and seriously frown on obvious attempts to simply name capture. If you’re even considering something like this (in my opinion, you shouldn’t) then you must absolutely discuss it in advance with the event promoter and get his or her approval.

Perhaps you can make an agreement whereby the promoter knows they’ll receive their share of any backend sales that occur after an event from those names that you capture at an event. Honestly, they’re a bit leery to do this because essentially, you’re on your honor system and they have no great way to monitor it.

A straight harvesting of the list is one of the most highly unwelcome acts a speaker can pull on a promoter. Don’t do it, and don’t be a prima donna!

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Bret Ridgway

Find out more about Bret Ridgway and the services Speaker Fulfillment Services can provide you at SpeakerFulfillmentServices.com.

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