Today I had the privilege of delivering the keynote address at Beloved Foundation’s REACH Oncology Symposium at the University of California Riverside. Attendees were from oncology-related organizations, including healthcare providers and advocacy groups, with professional backgrounds in nursing, social work, and patient advocacy.
Regardless of organization or official role, it was apparent that each person in attendance is passionate about helping cancer patients. Most (if not all) have a personal connection to cancer that prompted them to do this work. While the Symposium didn’t include patients, I could easily see the commitment these good people have to providing relief and assistance to patients and their families.
As a bit of an experiment, I asked attendees to turn to the “neighbor” sitting next to them and describe the work role that prompted them to attend today’s meeting. After a minute of discussion amongst themselves, I invited the entire group – by show of hands – to share if the “neighbor” talked about their role in terms of others or in terms of themselves. Every single attendee spoke of what they do in terms of other people.
I wasn’t surprised by the show of hands. People who enter caring professions usually have altruistic motivations and find intrinsic satisfaction in service to others.
Often these most admirable qualities are also what lead caregivers to prioritize the needs of others over their own personal needs. An unfortunate and unintended consequence can be compassion fatigue – a state of physical, emotional, and/or spiritual depletion associated with caring for others.
In the ensuing discussion, we talked about the importance of not only caring for others but also caring for yourself. It’s not selfish to acknowledge you have needs. Caregivers are always more effective if they nurture body, mind, and spirit, recharging their personal batteries and developing the resilience to carry on for those who depend on them.
As you are planning an event, it would be relatively easy to make the decision to skip bringing in a keynote speaker. After all, there is no doubt that this can be a costly inclusion in your event, especially if the person is notable in your industry, such as a healthcare speaker. However, despite the cost, there are plenty of compelling reasons to include a quality, motivational keynote speaker as part of your event.
Deliver Big Value
More than anything else, the best reason to hire a keynote speaker is simply to deliver value to your audience. You want the attendees to leave the event thinking that their time and money were both well spent. A powerful keynote speaker can close the event with a bang and leave everyone feeling fulfilled.
The last thing you want out of your event is for your attendees to feel like they have been sold something that didn’t live up to the billing. Not only is that a disappointing feeling for you as an organizer, it will also put the future of the event in jeopardy. Many attendees will not want to return if they weren’t happy with their experience, and those who were considering coming next year will be turned off by the bad reviews. Simply put, it is better to over-deliver when putting on an event, so you can thrill your audience and leave them excited to return.
Grow the Event
No matter what kind of event you are putting on, there are sure to be people who are on the fence with regard to whether or not they should attend. Some of your target market will sign up immediately, knowing that the event is important for their career or business – regardless of the presence of a keynote speaker. But what about the rest? If you want to put on a hugely successful event, you’ll need something to take those people from ‘maybes’ into attendees.
The great thing about using this strategy is you can also please the people who were going to attend the event anyway. In other words, you’ll grow your numbers thanks to the speaker you bring in, and you’ll also provide a better experience for those who were already planning to attend. It’s a win-win and a big boost for the future of your event.
The Power of a Name
This last point is particularly important for events which are relatively new and still trying to carve out a place in the market. Bringing in a notable keynote speaker is a great way to confer credibility on the event as a whole. When those in an industry, such as healthcare, find out that a particular motivational speaker is going to be at the event, everything about the event is raised to a higher level.
Of course, it should go without saying that perhaps the most important part of picking a speaker is finding someone who is relevant in your industry and has something to add to the event as a whole. Bringing in a big name is not good enough if that person is present only for name recognition – they need to have a message which is on topic, valuable, and interesting to everyone in your audience. Once you find the right speaker, making the decision to hire that individual will be a no-brainer.