Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to know how to move your story forward by finding, booking and coaching people - from customer to CEO - to best represent you, your company, or your non-profit. Here are three scenarios you may one day find yourself in:
Scenario #1: You are in charge of setting up a luncheon for employees. You have to have the Corporate Division Manager or maybe the largest donor to your non-profit speak. You just assume they can pull it off just because of who they are.
Scenario #2: You are going to finally ad video to your website. Your employees will be featured. Uh-oh, it looks like some are willing, some aren’t. Some have great things to say, but aren’t the top producers.
Scenario #3: You need a video featuring testimonials about your company or non-profit. There are so many possibilities. You have narrowed it down to the customers you want but you really don’t know how get them to actually go on camera.
All three of the problems presented in these scenarios come down to one important thing: How do you book the best talker for your project? Let me define ‘best talker’ for you. This isn’t the guy (or gal) who blathers on incessantly about whatever is on his mind. This is the person who can articulate your message in a concise and compelling way that moves your story forward. This is the person or people who are coached to provide specific information to weave the layers of your story.
There is a saying in television, “There is no such thing as spontaneous television.” The best shows, the ones that keep viewers glued, are the ones that have been produced to make you see the drama unfold as if it were natural. It’s not. Don’t think for a second that despite Oprah or Ellen or Letterman looking surprised, that there wasn’t someone behind the scenes orchestrating every one of those ‘aha’ moments.
You may have never booked a guest for anything, ever. Most likely, you are not trying to land a celebrity or nationally known spokesperson. If you are, I’ll touch on that later. What you are more likely faced with is booking from a ready-made pool of candidates ~ clients, bosses, donors, etc. I want to walk you through how to manage those people to get the most out of what you have to work with.
Let’s break it down based on the scenarios I presented at the top of this post.
Lesson #1. Sometimes you get stuck with people and you have to make it work. Your boss, someone very important to the company, the largest donor, etc. may not be the most dynamic speaker. Or, be very uncomfortable in front of a crowd. Or, they may be too comfortable and have delivered the same schtick a hundred times.
Own it. Take control by knowing exactly what points you want delivered. No one will stay insulted because you told him/her what you want delivered if what he/she delivers is a crowd pleaser. Own the show.
I have been, at times, intimidated by a host or MC who has years of experience doing the job. One time I hired someone who delivered a spot on show for me at an auction that raised a lot of money. I hired the same person for a different client and instead of being very specific about what I wanted, I let him ‘do his thing.’ Big mistake. Some of the same jokes, totally different group, ended with a much less successful evening.
Listen, no one wants to look stupid in front of a crowd. But they won’t give you the power to direct them if you are intimidated by them. Know your material, know your audience, know what has to be delivered. Expect it. Demand it. Own it.
Lesson #2: Video makes an impression. Just because you are a hot- shot salesperson for the company, that may or may not translate favorably on camera. The company jokester may not make the best choice represent the company on camera. Base your decision on who can deliver on camera, not in the break room.
Own it. If you are responsible for delivering your companies message in a video, you must base your on-camera decisions on who can best articulate the company’s story. Own the message.
Look at the company pool of potential on camera speakers. Who most clearly represents your clients? Who comes across as the warmest and most genuine? One thing is almost always true: When you take the ‘live’ audience away from the class clown, and his audience becomes a camera, your video is destined for disaster. Not everyone can perform on cue. You don’t need that person. You need the one who can tell a compelling story of why your company is the best and I why need you. Or why your non-profit is so deserving, and I need to write a check. Booking the right people for your video, is not a popularity contest.
Lesson #3: It’s not true that everyone wants his/her 15 minutes of fame. But it is true that you can schmooze just about anyone to go on camera.
Own it. Know exactly what you want delivered in the video. Key in on not only who has a powerful story, but also who can drive the emotion of that story. Own the content.
Here’s the trick to getting anyone to go on camera. Friend them. Not in a Facebook way. Make sure they know that you’ve got their back. You are not going to put them in an embarrassing situation. You are going to hold their hand through the entire experience. If they trust you, they will go on camera.
Stick to your standards. Only accept the people for your project that represent the ‘face’ of your company or non-profit that you want to share. Choose them based on how they benefitted from what you do and how you do it. But, more importantly, choose them based on how well they can tell your story. Then coach them to get what you want from them.
So, are you wondering: “What does she know about booking the best talkers? What makes her think she is an authority on this?”
Well... besides producing and writing, I’ve made a career out of booking guests. In fact, I have a former boss who often calls me ‘The Happy Booker.’ Here’s a couple of the reasons why:
-When he needed to find a little boy who had been shot by his father and relocated to Florida for a Moyer Foundation TV special, he called me. I found that boy, booked him, and got him back to Seattle.
-When he needed nearly 20 guests with a variety of expertise on the subject of Small Business for a Microsoft 2-day web show. He called me and I filled every slot with some of the hottest new voices on the subject. It was so successful we turned around and did it again six months later - with a whole new slate of amazing talkers.
I am fearless. These are just two examples of the literally hundreds, probably 1000s, of guests I have booked for TV shows, marketing videos, panel discussions, lecturers, MCs, and just about every other format you can think of.
Let’s be honest. When you’ve done this for as long as I have, you definitely develop a sixth sense for a good guest. You also instinctively know when to cut the conversation and move on to the next potential candidate.
If you don’t have the time to deal with booking, or if it puts you in an uncomfortable position to choose co-workers or clients, or if you need someone who can land the ‘big fish,’ I am your best choice to make that happen.
In my world, when you finally land that ‘ringer,’ it’s called ‘the get.’ And I am very good at ‘the get.’