3-2 Work with Meeting Planners

After your client has been invited to speak, many details must be managed. A speaker’s assistant can oversee this process by making sure all the necessary steps are completed and ensure that the meeting planner’s experience of working with the speaker is a positive one.

A typical conference can have as many as 40 to 100 speakers per event, so the VSA can expect to have a lot of interaction with the conference coordinators and event planners. You may be asked for the same things over and over, because they can’t find what you sent, so plan to meet their needs with a smile. It is vital that the VSA represent the speaker in the most responsive way, even if the meeting planner asks for the same information three or more times (unfortunately, this is the norm, so be prepared). Never get impatient with the meeting planner – just expect to get many requests and plan to respond the same day or within 24 hours.

To investigate more about meeting planners, go to the website of the Meeting Professionals International.

What the Speaker Needs from the Meeting Planner

1. Signed speaker agreement (see another Section 3-3 for more information on speaker contracts)
2. The Deposit made (usually 50%) – No deposit, no date (cancel)
3. The Meeting Planner Questionnaire to learn specific information about the audience from the meeting planner
4. The hotel room booked

What the Meeting Planner Needs from the Speaker

1. Speech title and short topic/program description with sales/promotional language
2. Speaker photo
3. Speaker bio
4. Travel arrangements
5. Handouts
6. Releases

Meeting Planner Questionnaire

In order to prepare the best possible speech for the event, the speaker must understand the audience and its needs, the purpose of the event and the event logistics.

Most speakers have developed a Meeting Planner Questionnaire to get the needed information before they start planning for the perfect speech for the event and the audience

Meeting Planner Checklist

Meeting Planner Questionnaire

A meeting planner with 40 different speakers may have to fill out 40 separate questionnaires since what the event needs from each speaker is different. Having so many questionnaires to fill out means that many times the meeting planners just don’t get them all done. The VSA can help by filling out as much of the questionnaire as possible by looking at the event website and telephoning the Meeting Planner for the rest of the information if necessary.


The VSA also coordinates video agreements. Many speakers use the events they speak at to create videos for the speaker’s use on the website as a demo video or even to sell as a product. To do this, permission (a release)must be granted from the meeting planner for that event.

Many times, getting a video release is part of the contract negotiations up front, but not always. If it wasn’t agreed to up front, the VSA may be asked to call or email the meeting planner about getting the release.

Another complexity is whether the speaker’s video can include the audience. If the meeting planner does the videotaping, then they have usually made a release from the audience members for audience videotaping part of the registration process. In other words, the audience is agreeing to be videotaped if they register for and attend the event. This only includes showing the audience (usually just the back of their heads as they face the speaker) and not an audio of the audience participation or when audience members ask questions. In some cases, where there is no audience release, any video clips used will need to leave the audience completely out of the video.

Sometimes speakers will negotiate a lower speaking fee if the group organizing the event will handle the videotaping. This makes it easier on the speaker and the VSA because the meeting planner will know local sources, or may even have in-house sources.

The VSAs Role in the Process

Follow the Meeting Planner Checklist and make the sure the following is done:
1. The contract is executed and the deposit received
2. The Meeting Planner Questionnaire is sent and follow up until it is received back
3. Travel arrangements are made and sent to the Meeting Planner
4. Any PowerPoints or other visuals are created and backed up
5. Handouts are prepared and sent to the meeting planner for reproduction (if in the contract)
6. Releases are signed by the speaker and sent back to the Meeting Planner
7. Any promotion for the event for the speaker is planned and executed
8. A local videographer is hired to video the speaker or make sure the event is being videotaped by the group hosting the event

Promotion for the Event

One of the questions to ask of the Meeting Planner is “How can we help you promote the event?” The speaker should be the one to do the actual promotion, but the VSA can help coordinate the speaker’s time and send the items to the Meeting Planner. There are a number of things that speakers do to help with the promotion effort, and the VSA can help as well by:
1. Having the speaker write articles for the organization’s online publication on the speaker’s topic, referring to the event OR for the online event web site.
2. Having the speaker interviewed in preparation for the event and post the video on the speaker’ s web site. Send the video to the Meeting Planner for their use in promoting the event.
3. Having the speaker interview thought leaders who will be attending the event, before the event or during the event for a blog, podcast or Internet radio show. The VSA may be asked to research who the thought leaders for the organization are and how to get in touch with them.
4. Having the speaker blog about the event.

Next Steps

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