Last week we started talking about getting started as a professional speaker, and some tips to give your business a boost. One of the key points is to be polished, professional and at ease, in any situation – the best way to do this is to be prepared – for everything.

I had the opportunity to sit in on a keynote a few years ago, that was an honor to attend. I was amazed at how she spoke to a room of thousands, yet made it feel like I was one of very few. However, I cringed watching her walk onstage, in heels, with stairs, dimly lit, I don’t know how she didn’t fall. Had she stumbled, the talk would have been ruined, and she would have been embarrassed. The lesson, asking the room set up before the event (stairs and lighting!)

Here are our top 10 questions you should ask the event planner before any speaking engagement:

  1. Will the event be recorded, and can you get a copy of the recording? You’ll also want to confirm, if they’re willing to share the recording, that you’re OK to post all or part of it on your website or social media.
  2. What is the dress code for the event? If the event is business casual, you want to dress slightly above without being formal. If the event is black tie, you should be on level with the attendees.
  3. Is there a networking/casual event you can attend either before or after, or both? This is something very few speakers ask to do. Attending a casual event prior allows you the opportunity to see how the group interacts and how that lines up with your talk. Also, networking with attendees later gives you the opportunity to further engage with attendees.
  4. Will there be a podium? We don’t recommend standing behind a podium for your whole talk, but it is nice to have a “home base,” somewhere to put your water glass down or leave some notes.
  5. Will there be a microphone, is it handheld or lapel? If it’s a lapel mic, make sure you’re wearing something that it can be comfortably clipped to.
  6. Will there be Q&A, how will questions be facilitated? Also, ask how much time should be left for questions. A little tip is to have “bonus” content prepared if there are no questions.
  7. Will there be technical support present? Very important in a large room when using a mic, or if you’re doing a slide presentation.
  8. Ask if you can get a list of attendees? If not, ask if you can offer a giveaway to collect business cards – just remember to abide by spam laws, and make sure your first contact with attendees confirms their permission to continue emailing them.
  9. What is the room set up? How many people will be in the room? Will there be a stage, or are you on level with attendees? While most of this doesn’t affect your talk, it does help you get a sense for the room.
  10. Can you get into the room ahead of time to set up, test audio? How hard is the stop on the session? Do you have time to mingle as people are entering or departing from the room? It’s a great time to exchange business cards.

So why all the questions?

First, you want to be prepared. The more you know in advance, the more comfortable you’ll be.

Second, each speaking engagement is not just one speaking engagement. It’s a room full of opportunities to continue to impact your target audience.

What questions do you ask before an event? We’d love to hear your stories! Join us here on our blog or over on a Facebook page. Still refining your message and need a little guidance, reach out for a consult. We’d be happy to share some tips and tricks to help you plan for your next talk!