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Contracting With Vanessa

"The point is not to say to company leadership, 'You don't understand and you're bad.' The point is to say, 'Look, you have these employees that you probably don't know much about, so let's educate you about what they need."

--Selisse Berry, Executive Director, Out & Equal

Contracting With Vanessa Sheridan As Your Keynote Speaker:
12 Ways To Make Your Life Easier

Many organizations have discovered that the best way to send a powerful message to their people is often through the use of a keynote speaker.

A speaker from outside the organization can be viewed as an objective and unbiased third party who brings a credible message. Their message is more believable because it comes from someone with no organizational axe to grind and/or no internal politics to play.

To maximize your organization's keynote speaker experience with Vanessa Sheridan, here are a few ideas to keep in mind while planning your event:

  1. Think hard about your goals for the outcome of Vanessa's presentation so she can recognize and help you meet your needs. Why are you contracting with her? Let her know what you want and expect from her.

  2. Try to contract with Vanessa well in advance of the engagement. This will create plenty of time for the meeting/event planner and Vanessa to get to know each other. It will also allow Vanessa to do any required research on the audience and topic as well as identify challenges and obstacles that are to be addressed.

  3. As the acknowledged leading expert in her field, Vanessa expects to be fairly compensated for her work. Please be prepared to discuss your operating budget and other financial arrangements when you contact her.

  4. A keynote speaker is usually more effective at the beginning of your event because they can set the tone for the rest of the gathering. If you want Vanessa to give a speech that is primarily motivational, then the tenor of the rest of your meeting will be an inspirational one. Since Vanessa is an expert in a specific area of interest, she will surely generate some topics of discussion for later in the event. In any case, asking the keynote speaker to "kick off" your event is usually a good idea.

  5. If you plan to use a speaker as part a luncheon event, be sure to ask Vanessa to begin her speech immediately at the end of the meal. This allows the audience to nourish themselves, giving them the energy to listen closely and retain Vanessa's message.

  6. Consider whether Vanessa's persona and message fit with the audience's frame of mind. It is usually best to avoid engagements where alcohol may play a role as a part of the event. People won't pay much attention to any speaker if they're being fueled and/or distracted by alcohol. It's wise to avoid that situation entirely.

  7. Providing Vanessa with demographics about the audience--such as their job descriptions or positions, the average age range, and one or more challenges faced by the group that you would like to see addressed--can be very helpful in creating a successful discussion.

  8. Often, it can help to give Vanessa a list of industry "lingo" or abbreviations that will help establish a connection with the audience. It may also help to provide a list of negative topics or buzzwords to avoid in advance of the event. She's not as familiar with your people as you, so you can be of significant help in this regard.

  9. Check with Vanessa in advance as to whether she will have handouts for the participants. Ask to see a copy, and she will gladly accommodate your request.

  10. Be sure to ask Vanessa what type of audio visual or other equipment (e.g., projector, a screen for PowerPoint presentations, a stage or riser, a podium, a wireless, handheld or lavalier microphone, mic stand, etc.) will be required for her presentation. Requirements will, of course, vary depending on the purpose of the engagement.

  11. Arrange for a specific time to meet with Vanessa prior to the actual engagement (about 30 minutes or so beforehand should be fine) to test the audio/visual equipment, review handouts, go over any last-minute details, prepare her introduction, etc.

  12. Relax -- you're dealing with an experienced professional in Vanessa Sheridan. Let her do what she does best -- inform, motivate and inspire people to be better.


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