All of the planning is done. Your event is going perfectly, and you can almost sit back and relax as your attendees enjoy the fruits of all of your efforts.

And then you hear it. One of your speakers has turned his presentation into a full-on demonstration of his product despite your stern warnings. Attendees are leaving or have tuned out to the event and tuned into their phones. You can almost hear the complaints you know will be on your survey.

You are left with the question, “How could this have been prevented?”

Pay Your Speakers

In the gig economy, many of your speakers are likely thinking about how much money they need to be making an hour to make your event worthwhile. Getting to that number is even harder when you aren’t paying your speakers, and the idea of selling from the stage then becomes less temptation and more of a viable option.

The simple solution is to actually pay your speakers. But that is understandably harder when you don’t have a large budget to work with. That’s when you have to get creative.

Instead of paying for speakers’ travel costs, you can find speakers in your host city and funnel that travel budget into speaker fees. It becomes even easier in a city like Cincinnati. Locally, we have nine Fortune 500 companies and fourteen Fortune 1000 companies. You have a wealth of different industries and specialties to choose from when looking for speakers here. And being able to afford more expensive speaker fees can be all of the difference in the world.

Provide a Location and Time to Sell

If you know your speakers have books and products to sell, then you also know that they will feel the pressure to do so from their opportunity on the stage. Take that pressure off.

Have a table full of your speakers’ books for purchasing. Or if you have a really well-known author in your industry, then do a book-signing as a part of your event.

If it’s more of a service-based product, then provide a sponsor table built into the speaker fees. Your speaker will then have a place to demonstrate his product that is not on the stage.

Create a Penalty

If you’ve done the above and you still find that your speakers are selling, then it’s time to spell it out in your speaker contracts.

Have it in your contracts that any selling from the stage will result in the speaker not being asked back. This may sound like a big risk to take with the top speakers, but the fact is that the best speakers do not sell from the stage. The best speakers know that their time on the stage should be utilized to create a connection with attendees by demonstrating mastery of a topic while passing on a piece of that knowledge. Selling erodes that connection.

A penalty will not destroy your relationships with the best speakers. It is really for the mediocre speakers that you likely wouldn’t have invited back anyways. By spelling out a penalty in your contracts, you are just giving yourself something to point back to when you don’t invite them back. 

Have you had a problem with speakers selling from the stage? What has worked for your events?