Thursday, July 30, 2015

Coming & Going: Some Speaker Etiquette


I’m so sorry the spacing is funky in the post. I’ve worked and worked to fix it, and now I’m all about just getting it out to you.

I’m baaaaaaccccckkkkk! :)

Speaker friends, thank you for extending me grace during the most crazy, busy time of my life. The last two months have been a whirlwind, and I’m looking back with awe and relief. Between the release of Breaking Up with Perfect, She Speaks, and preparing to launch my two young men to college, I’ve experienced joy, panic, and every shade of emotion in between.

I’ve got a long list of new clients from She Speaks, and I’m ready to dive back into coaching. Here’s the truth. I love, love, love to speak, but I love coaching even more. It’s such a pleasure to settle back into my place here with you.

I’m going to get us started again with a question I received from one of you over the summer. (Don’t forget, if you have a question you’d like answered, either email it to me directly at or leave it in the Request Information form. I can’t answer questions individually, but I love to answer them for the benefit of the whole group right here on the blog.)

What ARE the “rules” of etiquette when it comes to leaving an event?  Who do I need to “hunt down”?  Say?  Do? (As I type this, I suspect that “goodbye” time would be a lovely time for me to hand key women thank you notes … but that would mean planning ahead to take stationery, setting aside time to write, etc. But that WOULD give me something in my hands to actually give them and a purpose for good-bye.)
My friend who wrote this question had inadvertently left an event planner feeling like she didn’t have closure on the event when my friend left a retreat without saying good-bye. I know for sure my friend’s heart was in the right place, but it was a difficult situation since my speaker-friend was very sick and the attendees were all spread out in discussion groups.
Sometimes circumstances complicate how we handle things at events, but in general the answer to this question lies in the principles of deep relationship. As a speaker, you may not feel deeply connected to the event planners and attendees of an event, but remember that they probably feel much more connected to you. They’ve read your blogs. They mat follow you on social networks, and they’ve listened to your stories at the event. They feel like they really KNOW you, and they actually do if you’ve been vulnerable. I know I often underestimate the level of connectedness since I don’t know as much about them, but I’m learning to be more perceptive and treat it as a true honor.
Speakers should treat event planners and attendees like they would treat a close friend as well as with professional courtesy. Here are a few practical tips:
When you arrive…
  • Make sure to leave time for error (I showed up at the wrong church across town one time!), and arrive early. Event planners are spinning a lot of plates, so we don’t want them to have to worry about the arrival of their speaker.
  • Introduce yourself to everyone you meet as you come in, and ask to be directed to the event planner to greet her first thing. Just knowing you’re there will set her at ease.
  • If you have a resource table, build in time for set-up while still leaving time to pray with the team before attendees arrive.
  • If you have extra time after setting up, make sure to pitch in and help the planning team. We’re there to serve, not to be served.
  • I always give the advice to start your message with a bang. That means you cut out all the thank yous and compliments to the planning team from the stage. Make sure you say all those things from the start before you take the stage. They’re still important even though they shouldn’t be in your message.
  • Greet attendees and introduce yourself as they come in. You’ll engage them and ensure some friendly faces in the audience for yourself!

When you leave…

  • It’s just about impossible to say good-bye to everyone you need to talk to before you leave since teams are starting to break down and clean up. However, make sure to find the event planner and your main contact for the event. Most times both rolls are held by the planner, but occasionally I’ve had a person assigned to me for an event. (I love when that happens! So helpful.)
  • I LOVE my friend’s idea about handing the planner a thank you as you leave. I mail a hand-written thank you after the event unless they preempt my note with an email. In that case, I’ve decided it’s ok to reply by email with my thank you. Having it ready at the event would be terrific.

I’m so glad my precious friend sent in this question. It’s made me think through how I’ll handle things in the future. Planning ahead seems like the key since our speaker hearts intend to serve and care for our audiences. Having systems in place for ourselves will help us when the circumstances are confusing.

Do you have some tips about coming and going? I’d love to hear them! I’d also love to hear if anything exciting has happened in your speaking ministry in the last few months. I’ve missed you!

Note: I’m sure many of you have already heard all about Breaking Up with Perfect through my personal blog, but if you’ve missed it, here’s a chance to get a little taste with five days of FREE spin-off thoughts from the book. Click on the graphic below to register for “Five Days to Himperfection.”

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