MORE and more corporations in Malaysia have awoken to the necessity of training and developing their people these days. Hence, many local speakers have emerged in recent years just as many foreign ones have already been flocking to Malaysia as far back as two decades ago. With so many speakers available in the market, the success of your event lies in selecting the right speaker who would make a big difference in your conference or seminar.
Here are some tips.
First, discard the "white is superior" mindset. Although there are some really good foreign speakers from the West, there are also many who are unable to deliver. To select a speaker to grace your conference or engage one to run an in-house seminar primarily on the basis of skin color alone could end in disappointment.
Selection of a speaker should be based on the desired content appropriate to your conference theme or meeting your training needs, and the competence of the speaker to deliver. If you care to look around our own backyard Malaysia you may find some local speakers who are really good in their respective specialization.
The next thing to consider is: Can you afford the really good ones?
There are many people representing cash-rich corporations and yet could become quite niggardly when it comes to paying for good speakers.
Just as luxury cars and branded time pieces don't come cheap, don't expect the top speakers to work for peanuts. And don't try the "while we won't pay you much but think of the exposure we can give you if you were to speak in our conference" approach. The really top speakers would just walk away even if they are too polite to laugh in your face.
On average, you should expect to fork out anything between USD5,000 to USD15,000 for any of the internationally-acclaimed speakers, even for just an hour's presentation as in a conference. Although some people had made some noises when I gave them the same quotation for an hour's presentation just as I had quoted for a day's work, they had overlooked that whether a professional speaker spoke for an hour or a day, that very day could no longer be offered to another client. This is especially so when some traveling is involved. For an example, to speak in another city, say Beijing, a day before the event and a day after the event would be spent in traveling.
In Malaysia, good local speakers are available for RM7,000 to RM10,000 for up to a day's presentation although for RM3,000 to RM6,000, you may still be able to get some who are relatively quite good albeit they may not be in the "internationally-acclaimed" league.
Speaking of "internationally-acclaimed" speakers, don't be fooled by those who claimed to be "internationally-acclaimed" speakers from having spoken abroad. Find out who they have spoken for. If they spoke for multinationals that are household names like Cisco Systems, Citibank, GE, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, etc., then you could take their word for it. Just be aware that there are many event organizers who pay peanuts to local speakers to speak at overseas events, and such speakers would subsequently pose themselves off as "internationally-acclaimed" ones.
As I have mentioned, getting a good speaker makes a big difference. An inexperienced or incompetent one would either send the delegates to sleep or fail to get the key learning points across.
Last but not least, you ought to keep up with the times. Make use of the Internet in your search for the right speaker. There are many websites, e.g. www.eventclicks.com, www.cityspeakersinternational.co.uk, www.malaysiahronline.com, etc., where you can browse through a panel of speakers and peruse their resumes.
And just as you are in keeping with the times, make sure your selected speaker is also technically-inclined. As a self-respecting speaker will ask for an LCD projector since he or she will bring along a personal computer loaded with presentations on PowerPoint, you should discard the one who still uses transparencies on overhead projector.
Khoo Kheng-Hor, a best-selling author of several books on the application of Sun Tzu's Art of War in contemporary business management is a sought-after speaker in conferences and seminars throughout Asia. He can be reached at http://www.webpoint.com.sg/suntzu or firstname.lastname@example.org
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