The media scambles over themselves during 17 days to get "their story." Between the medal count and crafted storylines some newly minted Olympic speakers supercede their 14 mintues of fame. For months after the Olympic Games event planners make assumptions about bringing in an Olympic speaker. Here are the five most common assumptions that can hurt your future corporate event. The five selction mistakes for your
#1. Big Names Draw Attendees. FALSE. This number one assumption is everywhere. Assuming a gold medal Olympian speaker will draw attendees has proven to be false. In a recent study commissioned by the National Speakers Association - there is little correlation between big names and attendee draw. Solution: Invest in great speakers (who don't have to be celebrities) then use video clips plus personal video invitations to drive interest. You will also get bigger numbers next year with a proven speaker this year.
#2 Celebrity Olympic Speakers Can Recreate the Experience. RARELY TRUE. It's tempting to name names but it's really not the Olympic speaker's fault. It's the planners who assume the story they remember from the Olympic games can create the same expereince at the event. Hire a newly famous gold medalist and you will normally get a speech that is underwhelming. There are exceptions - those are the exceptional Olympian presenters who are still speaking today (and even then there are painful exceptions). Solution: Hire an Olympic speaker who can recreate an Olympic experience.
#3. The Interview Format Works Best. SERIOUSLY? Sure, it's better than leaving an unexperienced Olympic speaker out on stage, alone, fumbling with what to say. But these planners have forgotten the number one rule in event planning - the experience is paramount! You've spent tens of thousands of dollars to ultimately watch an Olympic speaker sit in a chair and talk about themselves. Mildly interesting is not the goal of any event planner. Solution: Hire an Olympic speaker who engages the audience eye to eye. Look for an Olympian who is a professional at connecting compelling content to powerful story telling.
#4. His/Her Olympic Story Will Be Great To Hear. NOPE. Let's recap other Olympic speaker bombs in the past. "I did this. This happened to me. I did that. It was hard work. I didn't give up. I won. You can too." Solution: Hire an Olympic speaker who uses "YOU LANGUAGE." Instead of saying what happened to them, the Olympian presenter should draw people into the story as if it is happening to the audience.
#5. A Gold Medal Means He/She is Good At Everything. This is a pervasive assumption. From experience, I can tell you for a fact, when someone finds out you were and Olympian on the golf course they automatically think you are a great golfer. I'm not. The same can be said for table tennis, canoing, climbing, diving board tricks, waterskiing, cooking... you name it. Your Olympic speaker needs to be previewed before you hire them. Solution: My mom used to say, "When you assume you make an ass of you and me." Don't assume anything about the Olympian's speaking ability. Preview and vet their ability and content. If the content is not innovative or counter intuitive it will be between boring and forgettable at best with your audience.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I did not win in the Olympic Games. But, this turned out to be a HUGE advantage as an Olympic speaker. Why? There were no calls for someone who placed 15th in the Olympics. For years I had to hone my craft at speaking. Multiple speaking awards later (including the Council of Peers Award of Excellence from the National Speakers Association - names include Ronald Reagan, Og Mandino and Zig Ziglar), an opening keynote at MDRT (the Carnagie Hall of speaking) and 17 years of speaking professionally around the world the results can be viewed on this video. If your newly crowned Gold medalist speaker can do this. Hire them. If they can't, hire someone who can.
An Olympic gold medalist is an automatic Olympic speaker. Yet they rarely have the chops to be a naturally good speaker. With the phone ringing all the time, it doesn't seem to matter they don't speak well. They have little motivation to improve. Motivational speaking isn't their only concern. The five assumptions above are alive and well with far too many meeting professionals.
Enjoy the Olympic Games in London. Then, leave your assumptions in the file cabinet.
Hire and Olympic speaker who can light your people up with wisdom, wit and insight.