Friday, March 23, 2018

Why being an Event Organiser is a tough job.

I didn't realise just how tough the Event Industry was until doing research into the typical experience Event Organisers and Meeting Planners go through when engaging speakers.

When I asked the question, 'Have you ever had a bad speaker?', I was stunned to hear the response: 'No.  I only work with good speakers.  I've been doing this for 15 years and I've never had a bad speaker apart from 2 years ago'.

Confused by the double statement, I engaged a little further and the conversation went something like this:

Me: 'How do you normally search for speakers?'
EO: 'I first go through my little black book where I keep the names of all the good speakers I've used'
Me: 'So that will be all the speakers you've used over the 15 years?'
EO: 'That's correct...'
Me: 'And...  the speaker you considered to be bad isn't in your book?'
EO: 'That's correct...'
ME: 'So basically you have everyone's name in your little black book who you've worked with apart from the one that you had two years ago',
EO: 'No.  Not everyone gets in,  only the good speakers do...'


This is what psychologists call, 'cognitive dissonance' - it's a state of mind when a person is experiencing two conflicting thoughts at the same time, each struggling to be recognised and dealt with.

In this case, she had two things going on in the brain - a definition wrangling match over the terms, 'Good and Bad' speaker.  And then admitting if she had had a bad speaker or not.

Afterall, in this industry who's going to hire an Event Organiser if they admit to hiring bad speakers?

With this in mind, half of her statements start to make a little more sense....

But, it still doesn't account for the last statement because if she doesn't put in her little black book 'bad' and then says she only puts in the 'good', it implies that there must be another group of speakers who she's identified but unwilling to openly acknowledge as either good or bad.  In a polite way, the lack of a name for this category says it all as this is the 'nameless' category - those speakers who were 'mediocre, boring, forgetful, uninteresting, dull, samey, nothing new etc'.

Now things begin to make sense:  You can't admit to having bad speakers because no one hires an Organiser who hires bad speakers. 

So what happens when there is a bad speaker? Here's the kicker: it seems if the speaker messed up, it's somehow always ends up being the organiser's fault as they are not able to admit the speaker they hired was bad!  This attitude  perpetuates the cognitive dissonance many organisers experience at some point in their career which results in self blame rather than apportioning it back to the true source - the speaker was bad on that day. 

So I started playing around with the opening question to see if if something else was going on...

Results were reviling.

When I asked; 'Have you ever had a bad speaker?', I usually got the response: 'No'.  

But  if rephrased the question to: 'Have you ever had bad experiences working with speakers?' that's when I got a quizzical look and after a brief pause, 'Oh you mean like: them being late, or not turning up, or not sending their slides ahead, or or or or'. Suddenly the floodgates opened with war stories of the experiences they'd had.

Therefore there is a transference almost acceptance that bad experience is not the signs of a bad speaker and that it's this bad experience that is somehow always the fault of the event organiser because they must have failed to have done something even when it was beyond their control!
Cindy-Michelle Waterfield

So here's my question to you: Why keep quiet and accept a Speaker's unprofessional conduct when your client wouldn't accept you doing this to them and neither would you accept it if your supplier did this to you?  My next question: What are you going to do about it from now on?

Co-Founder of

Other Posts of Interest:

‘It’s the Celebrity speaker here, can you get me some of the White stuff?’

What would you do?  I’m not going to beat around the bush.  Without you even realising it, your event organiser has probably just saved...

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