Three questions that are so vital I can’t imagine doing a speech or presentation without having them answered.   

At some point, almost everyone in business will be asked to deliver a speech or presentation. And, I bet there’s never been anyone who wanted to do a bad one; everyone wants to do their best. 

Since the 2001 debut of my first book, It’s Not The Big That Eat The Small – It’s The Fast That Eat The Slow, I’ve been fortunate to have delivered more than 1200 keynote speeches, half-day and full-day workshops in every state and province and more than eighty countries. Along the way, I’ve come up with three questions that are so vital I can’t imagine doing a speech or presentation without having them answered and be fully explored.     

1. What is or what are the real BIG objective(s) of the meeting or conference?

If you don’t know the answer to that question you’re flying blind. Not long ago my office received an inquiry about keynoting a conference with the theme of, Vroom, Vroom, Vroom! I guessed the theme was about being faster and would dovetail with two of my books but I was wrong. When I prodded a little I learned that the real big objective was to get everyone rallied around the company’s purpose. They didn’t need a speech on speed; they needed one on the power of purpose. Almost always, by digging a little deeper and simply asking, the real big objectives are revealed. Knowing the real objectives of the meeting or conference will insure you don’t miss the mark. 

2. What do I have to accomplish during my time on stage to have you say I knocked it out of the park and wildly exceeded your expectations?

Recently, I did a keynote for the leadership team of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. The event was for a new product launch and the meeting planner had googled the key words ‘keynote speaker’ and ‘growth’, and ‘speed’, and contacted us because my name came up high in the search results. It only took a few questions to learn that the top dog is really all about grit and that if I tied everything in my speech back to ‘grit’ and a fierce sense of determination that he’d get so excited he’d probably run up on stage after the speech and hug me. I did, he did and everyone was over the moon! The only way to consistently exceed expectations are to know what they are and the only way to know them is to ask the question, “What would I have to accomplish for you to smile broadly and say to yourself (and others), this guy absolutely nailed it and provided real value?”   

3. What can I do to add value and help make your event the most memorable ever?        

It costs nothing to ask what can be done in the way of value added to make an event successful. My reasoning has always been that if someone is already there they might as well be doing something to positively impact someone’s life. Here are a few of the answers I’ve received in response to having asked the question: 

  • Arrive early and autograph books so they can do a pillow drop in attendee’s hotel rooms the night before the speech
  • Have a VIP breakfast with a company’s top performers or stay after the speech and do a lunch with them
  • In the case of large events spend an hour at the breakfast before the speech working the tables and introducing yourself to attendees
  • Do a short 45-minute breakout for the top leadership on how to practically implement what’s been presented
  • Attend a reception the evening before the event and meet and greet people
  • Have a follow-up call a week later with the CEO

Investing the time to learn the real objectives of a meeting or conference, to discuss and negotiate what needs to be accomplished in order to exceed the client’s expectations and learning what value added you can provide to make the event the best they’ve had might seem like simple common sense but, as I’m reminded on a daily basis;  the most common thing about common sense is how uncommon common sense is.

Watch The Game Changers podcast that accompanies this article.




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