As a virtual assistant it’s very likely you’ll work for one-man shows, like a coach, author, or speaker where the person themselves is the main element of the product. Professional speakers are a unique breed and it helps to have an understanding of their world going in. Here are the ways to align yourself with their needs from the get-go.
Be sensitive to their ego. Speakers, unlike other business owners, are the product. It’s their life experience, their expertise that people are buying. No matter how much a typical business owner loves their business, when they are producing something, it is usually outside of their self, unless it’s a speaker. For a speaker, they are the product. Always be aware when giving any feedback, or talking about their products, programs or services,that this isn’t just their baby, it is them.
Understand the money. We all know what speakers do, but where do they do it? Who actually pays for that athlete/survivor/success to tell his or her story? Associations, seminars, businesses and more. Every interest or profession you can think of has an association, conference, corporate training or other continuing education event. Often, speakers pretty much belong to a speaker’s bureau which only asks for a percentage of every gig booked, (even if they did not negotiate or sell that particular gig) and a portion of their soul. Maybe not that far, but it feels that way to the speaker. If you can put together marketing, make the calls, essentially get the gigs, you are a game changer for your speaker and a great asset. Remember, these groups are trying to provide value for their members, and your speaker doesn’t have to stay within their niche, for example, a crisis management expert can speak for The Mystery Writers Association. Hit up those groups with why your speaker is going to wow their audience and you’ll be gold to them and your client.
Understand their needs. The most important issue a speaker faces: being ready and able to take the stage on time. A huge part of this is the audio/visual set up at their venue. Do they have their presentation on a flash drive? Will the venue have a projector and computer that is compatible, up and running before the conference starts? Does your speaker use slides from the 70s? Then the venue must have a slide viewer. Even if you can’t be there keeping track of this, just reminding the speaker, or speaking with the venue ahead of time is invaluable.
Know what to ask. After every event your speaker is probably unaware of the wealth they are taking with them. Usually associations get feedback from audience members, and usually someone has taken pictures. All of these things are essential to ask for because they are so useful in marketing the speaker going forward. You are either using these resources, or cataloging it. In any case, making the client aware of the things they need to bring back from an event is great for them.
Offer further services. There is so much you can do for a speaker client. Be sure they know all the ways you can help. They may have never even thought of a service, let alone hiring for it. Such things might include transcribing their presentations, calendar management, follow up with audience members or the group, payments that need to be made, payments that need to be received, general PR, or my favorite, having an ‘essentials care package’ you send ahead to every venue for them. A back up A/V cable, throat lozenge, details on their clients, and even candy. Anything that will make their day smoother.
Knowing a little bit about the world a speaker lives in will give you more than just a skill set you can sell, but an edge on being the best for them, so they can be the best for their clients.
Have you worked with a speaker? How did they differ from other clients? Comment below with your experience or questions. They’ll be a profitable client with a little work and creativity!