Category: Meeting Planners

Motivational Speakers Impact Meeting Attendance for Associations

 

As a keynote speaker to national associations on the topic of motivation and overcoming adversity, I know the importance of my mission. This coming year, national association speakers will speak to nearly 207 million attendees at 1.8 million events. These events range from major keynote addresses and breakout sessions to regional workshops and seminars. Often, attendees at general national association meetings will also attend other association functions. Impressions gained from national association meetings and shows often filter down, and define the organization when attendees are thinking about going to smaller meetings.

The average low-ball estimate of the cost for attending a national association meeting is about $1,500 per employee for a three-day meeting.  This is not a decision lightly made.

If you are a meeting planner you already know that bringing in an inspirational and overcoming adversity speaker is a great way to kick off a conference. In fact, it can set the tone for the entire event.

In an article about successful meetings, Forbes magazine (February 10, 2019) explained the motivating effect of a dynamic keynote.

“What is the purpose of the guest speaker? Do you want someone to kick-off the event by electrifying the attendees? Generally, the answer will be, ‘yes.’ Your attendees will come in with high energy and high expectations — you’ll want to match this intensity with your speakers’ abilities.”

Announcing that an inexperienced non-dynamic speaker will speak at the national event almost guarantees the reverse outcome of what you expect.

In an earlier article in Forbes (October 16, 2013), communications expert Dr. Nick Morgan related, “A keynote speaker is a temporary tribal leader who can move an audience to action…people only take action because of other people, and a keynote speaker has a unique opportunity to do exactly that.”

Suppose there is no one to move that audience from the very beginning? Not enough attention is been given to what happens when a national trade association declines to hire the right motivational speaker or hires someone who does not engage the audience to help them deal with the issues they face.

Why Take the Risk?

There are at least seven general outcomes when a national association decides against hiring a keynote speaker or does not bring in a speaker who is dynamic enough to move the audience to understand key issues. These outcomes include: lower attendance; a failure to address an important industry concern; a lack of unifying message; a lack of actionable objectives; a lack of media coverage through online, print and electronic media and lower expected attendance at the association meeting the following year.

Helping to avoid disastrous outcomes are what a professional national association speaker brings to the podium. A strong keynote speaker takes the time to learn about your industry in depth; is invested in moving your audience to action; cares about your association’s success; and is accessible will assure a more successful meeting.

At a time when associations and their membership are more far-flung and remote than ever before, the national meeting may be the one opportunity to bring everyone together.

The question may not be “Can we afford to bring an inspirational keynote speaker to our association meeting?” rather, can we afford not to?

 

Contact Scott Burrows, National Association Inspirational & Overcoming Adversity Speaker today through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169

 

“Does Our Industry Need Meetings Anymore?”

 

As a keynote speaker who works extensively with meeting planners and companies in the incentive industry, I know all too well about doom and gloom forecasts when it comes to industry meetings.

These are uncertain times for trade shows and the exhibition industry, and with it, meeting planners and incentive executives are often confused as to how to project into the future.

In March 2017, David McMillin in writing for the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) fired a warning shot that too many took to heart without reading the entire article:

“All good things must come to an end. After 25 consecutive quarters of year-over-year growth for the exhibition industry, the economists at the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) received the first dose of negative news with a 0.4-percent decline…” However, McMillin continued that there was “plenty of upside depending on how international trade and modernization of the industry would unfold in 2018.” Turns out, he was right.

In March 2019, the CEIR “Total Index” showed a strong 2018 rebound:

“The growth of the [meetings] industry, as measured by the CEIR Total Index, accelerated from a year-over-year gain of 0.9 percent in the third quarter to 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter.”

CEIR Economist Dr. Allen Shaw, stated: “The performance during the fourth quarter shows the resilience of the exhibition industry despite uncertainties surrounding the trade negotiation with China, volatile stock markets and slowing world economic growth.”

Shaw pointed out that while there have been huge gains in the Food, Government, and Raw Materials and Science sectors, on the other hand Consumer Goods and Retail Trade, Financial, Legal, Real Estate, and Transportation have not fared as well.

As an experienced meeting planner, you understand that while the economy may change, to eliminate meetings is the wrong approach to solving an industry’s problems. In fact, the reverse may be true.

Don’t Give in to Negativity

Doomsayers are more than willing to tell meeting planners that the “trade show is dead.” They point to the power of the internet, the new media, meeting software platforms, remote workers and co-working strategies as signaling the end to meetings.

Are these critics handcuffed by a lack of vision and the determination to be successful? I think so and many meeting professionals agree with me.

Mark Goren, an expert on trade show trends, wrote (August 2018): “What will the future of trade shows look like? Think experience meets relationship-building, or essentially, engagement marketing…where consumers are invited and encouraged to participate and actively engage with a brand through an experience. When it’s cleverly employed at trade shows, engagement marketing creates powerful, one-on-one connections…”

Maura Keller, writing for Association Conventions & Facilities said, “Creating a connection with the audience is paramount, and incorporating interactive elements within trade show design is key. Not surprising, interactivity within an exhibit booth is important to create a face-to-face connection and memorable experience for show attendees.”

Despite the doubters, in this digitized era meeting attendees crave real connection and relationships. The technology may be shifting but the need to engage with your audience, whether one-on-one, or one-to-one-thousand, has never been greater.

Negativity is crippling, but the determination and vision to overcome adversity will yield unbelievable results.

Book Scott Burrows, Keynote Speaker for the Meeting Planning and Incentive Industries, through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169