The Back Pocket Speech

As I watched my friend and colleague being loaded onto a gurney and placed in the waiting ambulance, I glanced over at the event promoter. What I saw in his eyes literally bordered on a state of panic. Sure, he was concerned about my friend, but he was also concerned about his event.

For you see, the person being loaded into that ambulance was scheduled to be the very next speaker on the agenda. I could see the wheels turning in the promoter’s brain as he struggled to come up with a solution. “What am I going to do? How am I going to fill up his 90-minute slot? How do I keep the flow of my event moving forward in a positive manner? How do I deliver on the promises I’ve made to my attendees?”

We’ve probably all witnessed it at some time or another—the unexpected disruption to an event that can create havoc for the event promoter. Maybe it’s the sudden medical emergency that means the scheduled speaker can’t take the stage. Or maybe it’s just the no-show speaker who doesn’t appear for his or her scheduled time slot without warning.

While either situation is unfortunate, as a speaker at an event where something like this occurs, you need to recognize it for the opportunity that it is and to be prepared to take advantage of it.

That event promoter is looking for a solution to his problem. He doesn’t want to have to tap dance for those 90 minutes (or however long a speaking slot is at that conference) to fill the hole in his agenda. Here is an opportunity for you to come to their rescue and help him keep the event moving forward in a positive manner.

How? By having what I call the “back pocket” speech. The back pocket speech is a 2nd talk you are prepared to deliver on a moment’s notice to an audience. Of course, it should be related to the primary focus of the event. Ideally, I also think it should be a content-only presentation.

You can provide the event promoter with a solution to his problem by offering to take that now-open speaking slot and deliver some great content to his attendees. But how does it benefit you?

  1. You’ll have the gratitude of the event promoter and when they plan future events you’ll be top of mind for their speaker list as they put those future events together.
  2. You’ll have more face time with the attendees. Handled properly, this additional time with the audience should help you to build even better rapport and, if you’re selling a product or service at the back of the room after your other presentation, increase those back of the room sales.
  3. It gives you another opportunity to deliver that secondary presentation and get even more comfortable with it should you need to deliver it at another conference.

Building a profitable speaking business is about being prepared to seize those opportunities when they present themselves.

Your back pocket speech should be a standard part of your speaker’s toolkit. Maybe you’ll never need it. But don’t be the one kicking yourself when that opportunity comes up and you aren’t prepared to seize it because you don’t have anything prepared.

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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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