Here is a conundrum, to which, perhaps, you have an answer: Meeting professionals often go to extraordinary lengths and sometimes pay huge sums of money to ensure a well-run and effective conference. Yet, in most sessions the information provided is quickly forgotten. Participants attend, leave and soon cannot recall much if not all of what they were exposed to.
I’ve made 960+ presentations and attended at least an equal number. In that time, I’ve received a book or audio program from the speaker perhaps 30 times (less than 4 percent of the meetings I’ve attended). Following a worthwhile speech or presentation, such books and audio products are valuable to me. I do tend to review them, keep them and reflect upon what I learned.
So, which speakers’ presentation and information have the greatest impact upon me—those who only offer handouts or who employ some type of take home learning aid?
An investment with legs
If you are paying a small fortune for the conferences you arrange, to ensure that my message or any other speaker’s message has optimal, if not lasting, impact, I encourage you to acquire books or audio products from speakers. This represents far more than a dollar transaction that benefits speakers, it is an investment in your people.
Rather than have a speaker sell “from the platform,” which I don’t enjoy and you probably loathe, the supporting materials can be negotiated in advance of the presentation. My 34-year experience confirms that audience members are thrilled to receive an autographed book or audio product from a speaker, and that the meeting planner who arranges such distribution is considered a forward-thinker.
Such learning tools usually don’t cost more than standard giveaways such as t-shirts, mugs, notebooks or tote bags and can have much more residual value. The pre-speech announcement of such gifts can generate goodwill and greater attendance. Participants often keep the book or audio for years, sometimes displaying them in the office, or storing them in their personal home library.
Enhanced learning, all around
When a substantial learning tool is given, attendees can relax and take fewer notes. The entire session, from start to finish, invariably proceeds on a higher note. At the conclusion of the meeting, the book or audio product is one of the treasures that participants look forward to bringing back with them.
Because you’re buying in quantities, the price per learning aid can drop significantly. Over many years, I’ve had clients large and small, take advantage of this opportunity, and I know other speakers who have witnessed the same. To the best of my knowledge it has been a win-win-win situation (meeting planner, speaker, audience participants) all the way!