Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Seminar Dog

Am giving yet another seminar this afternoon despite my swearing off seminars forever as my teeth cannot take the constant grinding and are starting to show considerable wear and tear. It was a combination of the last minute request, an attractive attendee list and a former acquaintance on the telephone pleading for help. God. Now I'm in full panic mode, plus I went to sleep last night with wet hair with the consequences we now see in the mirror.

One of the other speakers at today's seminar has started a Speaker's Guild, which really is more like a Speaker's Union since its main purpose is to improve the conditions of a speaker's appointment. For one thing, each attendee pays anything from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to attend each seminar. Do they know, I wonder, that not a single cent of this goes to any of the speakers? Depending on the length of the seminar, anything from 70 - 90% of the proceeds go to the organisers, whom no one ever sees because they just book the venue, send out flyers, collect the cash and send some young lady to go babysit the seminar itself. At one seminar in particular, the organisers made S$50,000 in pure profit, after deducting the venue costs. Each speaker received a complimentary name card holder.

Does the audience also know, I wonder, that the speakers don't know who they are? Not through lack of asking. It's like asking the organiser to give us the keys to their safe or something. Who are the attendees, I ask. Sorry. We can't tell you. Yes, I've bitched about this before but it still pisses me off.

Finally, there is the issue of equipment failure. If the microphone fails or the slides don't work properly, it's the speaker that's going to look like a complete eejit while the organiser's babysitter sits quietly in the audience hoping for a miracle. Unless, of course, they're not actually in the audience - they're outside reading a book.

14 Comments:

At 11:57 AM, Anonymous dilettanteP said...

So speakers often get lured by an impressive attendee list and inevitably "volunteer" themselves...

ie. meaning to say the organisers would invite people to appeal to speakers whom the organisers then utilise as free labour to help them generate income?

How very interesting!!! Perhaps we should all become seminar organisers!!! ;)

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger HairyDonut said...

Yes, that's exactly how it works. And I haven't even started about the "second level" seminar organisers who require the speakers themselves to pay for the privilege of speaking. So they get paid by the audience and the speakers too.

As an indication of how lucrative the business is, lots of seminar babysitters leave after a few months and set up their own conference/ event organising companies. All they need really is a thumb drive with the speakers contacts and attendee contacts.

 
At 1:54 PM, Anonymous dilettanteP said...

Hmm, I should then be very good at this business of seminar organising in financial services since I get access to a database of potential speakers and attendees in that space day in day out!!! ;)

 
At 3:04 PM, Blogger HairyDonut said...

It would be very interesting to see what happens if you do. If you need topics, you simply need to look at other seminar organisers' websites and copy those off. They copy each other anyway, and even sign up the same speakers.

The key to success is a nicely designed flyer, good stationery and a staff member who can process payments and send out mailers.

 
At 5:18 PM, Anonymous dilettantep said...

Hmm, thanks for the tip. It seems like yours truly is completely capable of designing nice flyers and taking payments. Looks like I am quite ready to take off in that business...;)

Ok, look forward to your blogging of the "second level" seminar organisers and how to bait loser speakers who would pay organisers to speak...:)

 
At 6:30 PM, Blogger HairyDonut said...

Ah... try Terrapinn and Euromoney.

www.terrapinn.com

Look under "Why Sponsor".

This was the first conference organiser where even the mineral water bottles were branded by them, not to mention the neck tags and placecards. I haven't seen a sponsor who put the branding on the cheesecake that we eat during the lunch break, but it's probably a question of time.

 
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