What’s your risk quotient when you plan the customer-driven agenda  for your Customer Advisory Board meeting?  Two customer advisory board members and three colleagues suggest external speakers that would spark your meeting content and resonate with both members and sponsoring company executives alike.

One of the reasons that outside speakers are alluring is the promise of adding insight and depth to an important issue.  When a speaker is a luminary in his/her field, members perceive added value to their Customer Advisory Council experience.  For speakers and authors, purchase their books and have signed copies at your members’ seats.  Members value meeting the speaker in a select, small group setting with access to the speaker for their own Q&A – it is a unique experience that the customer advisory council afforded.

Yet Customer Advisory Board program managers tell us that adding an external speaker can be like Forrest Gump’s  “box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.”  Invariably, speakers are bi-modal – they either rock or they seriously disappoint.

Let’s consider 3 checklist items for speaker selection to make it a less risky agenda addition.

Relevancy and Vibrancy

  • Ensure the topic, information or expertise applies to all members in the room.  And, it’s important for the speaker to be as engaging as he or she is knowledgeable – maybe more important
  • Ask for or Google your way to a video so that you can make your own call on how well the speaker will connect with your audience

Clear Direction

  • Be aware that almost any speaker will have no problem filling whatever timeframe you give them.  And, likely they can do it non-stop without ever taking a breath.
  • Harness their energy and ideas by framing 3 questions that you want interactively addressed with your audience.  They may have more ideas, but the rule of 3 works best – it’s a writing principle that suggests that “things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things”.

Make It Interactive

  • The “no talking heads” rule applies to speakers too.  Ask for slides, speech, props or any other artifacts in advance to gauge how well the speaker is heeding your guidelines to head off issues – for example, 100 slides for 30 minutes is a clear problem, no matter how snazzy the builds and how fast they talk.
  • On site, introduce the speaker to the room and the customer advisory board facilitator – and instill the concept of expert Customer Advisory Council facilitation techniques you routinely use to ensure interaction.  Work out the cues for handoffs and segues.

Your Customer Advisory Board members are spending time and effort to provide guidance for your business.  Don’t shy away from the opportunity to add depth to your advisory board or customer advisory council meeting – just check out that box of chocolates in advance!

Attending to the detail steps to ensure the speaker is on point enables a return on the investment for all.


Share This