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Anthony Trombetta

A conversation with Anthony Trombetta

Anthony TrombettaA conversation about hiring professional speakers with Anthony Trombetta, Director of Sales, ISSA, The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association.

Interviewed by Ed Rigsbee, CSP, CAE.

 

ER: For how long have you been hiring professional speakers for the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA)?

AT: About 9 years ago I took over as ISSA’s Director of Education and that is when I started. Two years ago I was promoted to Director of Sales and the education department remained under my umbrella. Currently, my Director of Education and I work together on speaker selection.

ER: I understand that ISSA hires only one keynoter for your annual educational meeting?

AT: Yes, we generally want a household name for our keynoter. We select celebrities and political figures. We want our attendees to have a memorable experience. We also hope that by having a highly recognizable keynoter, they will help draw attendance to our meeting. Recent keynoters have included Jim Collins and Rudy Giuliani.

ER: May I ask the fee range for your keynoters?

AT: Sure, the fees for our keynoter start around $50,000 and climb to $100,000.

ER: For you’re your general sessions, how many do you offer and please share with me the fee range?

AT: Every year we put on about 20 to 25 general session programs, using 15 to 20 speakers. The fees for professional speakers range from $2,500 to $7,000. For a non-professional speaker we offer a stipend of about $500. Most speakers only present one session but about 20% present twice at our meeting.

ER: How do you go about selecting your general session speakers?

AT: I belong to a number of industry groups including NAW & AEA. At these meetings the topic of speakers is always on the agenda. I get recommendations from other association Executive Directors, I am fortunate to see a number of speakers present live, and we work with speaker bureaus. When none of these avenues yield the right speaker for a topic, we go to the Internet and search.

ER: How do you like working with bureaus?

AT: When they provide really good service, I enjoy working with bureaus. We ask a little bit more of our speakers than do many other organizations. We request three articles and a video session of about half an hour outside the meeting room. The bureau folks that help us facilitate that really do offer good service.

ER: Tell me about your own professional speaker searches.

AT: We will use the typical search engines, visit bureau sites and the like. When we visit a speaker’s web site; first we want video immediately available, second we are looking for content such as program titles and descriptions, and third we look for recommendations from past clients. I’ll overlook a less pretty and easily navigation able web site if I see in the speaker’s video that they are good and engage their audience.

ER: What kinds of general session presentations wow your attendees?

AT: Since ISSA moved from being only a distributor, to an industry organization, our meeting stakeholders are much more diverse. Attending are distributors, manufacturers, contractors, agents/reps, and end users. Therefore, we offer a mix of motivational, inspirational, interactive, and high-content general sessions.

ER: If a professional speaker or one of their staff wanted to initiate building a relationship with ISSA, how would they start?

AT: The first step would be to email a short note with a link to their video. I look at the video, and if I believe there might be a fit, I’ll bookmark archive the link and go back to it in December when we start our speaker selection process.

ER: Anthony, what is it that professional speakers do that simply drive you crazy?

AT: At the pre-hire stage, sometimes speakers will spend 30-40 minutes going over the content of their program. In my mind they are already hired and I just need the two-minute overview. Then at the meeting; I’d like things to go seamlessly. When speakers do not respect our process and system and want things like their room to be moved closer to the expo, want extra chairs brought in when the room is already over-capacity, or handouts distributed a certain way, it makes my life and the lives of my staff difficult.

ER: Why do you use professional speakers?

AT: For the quality of their programs; you get what you pay for.

ER: What topics do you see emerging where there is a need for more speakers?

AT: We are in an environmental age and there are very few recognizable names beyond Al Gore specializing in this area; sustainability and green topics will be more in demand in the future.

ER: What changes have you notice in the profession of speaking over the last decade?

AT: More professional speakers are willing to truly customize their programs for my meeting. Jim Pancero is an excellent example. I can have a two-minute talk with Jim about what kind of a program I need and he gets it. I have no worries; he will show up with just what I want.

ER: Does the Certified Speaking Professional accreditation have any meaning for you?

AT: Yes it does, especially when searching and finding a speaker that I do not know. If their video proves that they are good and they have the CSP logo on their Website, it puts them higher in my level of consideration.

ER: Anthony, thanks so much for your time and insight

Macfadden Protech

A conversation about hiring professional speakers with Linda Keith

Macfadden ProtechA conversation about hiring professional speakers with Linda Keith, CMP, Vice President,
Meetings & Conferences, Macfadden Protech, producers of Pizza Expo® Tradeshows and Conferences and Pizza Today™ Magazine from Louisville, KY, Interviewed by Ed Rigsbee, CSP, CAE.

ER: For how many years have you been hiring speakers?

LK: About 38 years; first in the tobacco industry, then in healthcare and for quite a few years now—the pizza industry. We produce one to three shows a year and at our big event, the International Pizza Expo, we have about 6,000 attendees yearly.

ER: How many speakers do you hire each year for the International Pizza Expo?

LK: I hire about 30 speakers to fill about 50 seminars.

ER: Do you work with speaker bureaus?

LK: I used to but have not used a speaker bureau for about eight years.

ER: How do you feel about speakers selling from the platform?

LK: Keep it pure! We have a firm policy that seminars are to be educational, and not for selling. As a matter of fact, some of our exhibitors have requested to conduct educational seminars but if I allow one, then I’d have to allow them all. The same goes for content experts, share just your expertise. Otherwise rent a booth. I had a situation a few years ago where it was stated on three or four evaluations that the session was mostly about the speaker selling their product—I haven’t invited that speaker back.

ER: Does the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation hold a meaning for you in selecting speakers?

LK: Yes, because I have earned my Certified Meeting Professional designation.

ER: How many CSPs did you hire for your last International Pizza Expo?

LK: CSP does not trump expertise; however two of the 30 speakers were CSPs.

ER: What role does the Internet play in your search for speakers? Do you do online research to find experts in a given field?

LK: Generally I rely on speakers submitting proposals rather than searching the Internet for specific content speakers. I do use the Internet to learn about speakers that have contacted me through mailed proposal, email introduction, and over the telephone.
ER: Many speakers author an electronic newsletter, do you actually like to receive these newsletters from speakers or are they a pain?

LK: I do enjoy receiving speaker newsletters and try to read as many of them as time permits.

ER: How do you determine who you want to take a closer look at? What’s the best way past the clutter and into the final four?

LK: Things are important top me.

  1. Convince me that your seminar, workshop or keynote is relevant to the pizza industry.
  2. Assure me that you will customize and be relevant, especially for pizza restaurateurs.
  3. I have to fill quite a large number of educational slots, can I afford you? It would be helpful if speakers posted their fees on their Web Sites so I could more easily determine if I could afford them.

ER: What do you typically pay a professional speaker for a 90 minute session?

LK: Three to four thousand dollars per session. I try to have a speaker deliver more than one presentation at the International Pizza Expo and generally negotiate with them for a discount on additional sessions. Generally seven thousand for multiple presentations by a single speaker is more attractive and cost effective; fewer speakers mean fewer hotel rooms and airline tickets.

ER: In selecting speakers, what percentage of familiar speakers as compared to new speakers do you choose?

LK: Since the International Pizza Expo experiences approximately 40% first time attendees each year, I try to add one or two new professional speakers into the mix for each expo. A new speaker might be one that we’ve never used or possibly one that we had used several years past.
ER: Is there an honorarium fee level below which you don’t even consider speakers, believing they must not be any good if their fee is that low?

LK: No, I don’t consider any fee too low. As a matter of fact, I use a large number of pizza industry executives because of their expertise. I pay their expenses and provide them with a modest honorarium to reimburse them for their time.
ER: Which is more important to you in your decision making; Web Site content and streaming video or direct personal contact with the prospective speaker candidate?

LK: I prefer direct contact first because I feel that I can learn more about the speaker by talking with them verses watching a video of their work. If the speaker is of interest to me following our talk, I’ll then ask them to send me a DVD. I prefer receiving a DVD over watching their footage via the Internet because much of what I have viewed via the Internet is still a bit jumpy.
ER: Given the fast changing audiences to whom we speak; how do you rate the following in order of importance, considering first that the speaker is rated excellent as a partner to meeting producers (original content, new ideas, audience involvement and interaction, entertainment, presentation skills, contrarianism, humor, political correctness, and fee)?
LK: First I want the speaker to be specific to the pizza industry, and then:

  1. Audience involvement
  2. New ideas
  3. Presentation skills
  4. humor
  5. Fee

ER: Generally speaking, in your opinion what should paid professional speakers better understand about you?

LK: I do not want to be overwhelmed with a box of books, DVDs, and your other promotional materials because there simply is not enough time to go through everyone’s unsolicited materials. I simply want to know if you can deliver your material specifically customized to the needs of the pizza industry and if I can afford you. Let’s talk, but first please turn off your ego. I don’t need you to repeatedly tell me how good you are but would rather hear about what you’ve already done and who you have served.

ER: Linda, thanks so much for your time and insight.