I just got back from a great week at the International Meeting Planners World Education Congress in Atlantic City where I spoke on the topic of innovation. The Speaker Sponsor concept was presented to over 2000 meeting planners as an alternative way to hire good speakers when they have a low budget or no budget.

The theme of the conference was reinvention and was held in Atlantic City, a town that has been going through a reinvention of its own. The planners of the event did a great job putting it together and sticking with the theme.

Keynote speaker Sekou Andrews reinvented the concept of a typical speaker by marrying corporate inspirational speaking with spoken word poetry. His Shakespearian/hip hop style wowed the crowd. It stood out to me because it was so unique and different from a typical speech. In a world full of speakers who all have the same style and topics, Sekou taught me that there is more than one way to present as a speaker. He literally created his own niche.

Speaker Sponsor presented the last day in the thought leaders theater. My topic was “Speaker Sponsorship: How to Get a Top Speaker on a Low Budget”. A problem I heard from many meeting planners during the week was about budget cuts and trying to find a good speaker when they really don’t have the money in the budget to pay a top speaker’s fees.

Sponsorship is a great way to get that speaker without having to break the bank. Sponsorship of a speaker means the sponsor pays the difference between the low fee and the speaker’s actual fee, or helps the speaker get paid when there isn’t a budget at all. Then meeting planners were given several ways to work with the speakers and their sponsors to make it a win-win for everyone.

But the most unique speaker sponsorship I’ve seen came from the event MC, Dena Blizzard, who did a fantastic job of keeping the show moving and interesting. During her lunch presentation, she literally had 2 sponsor’s signs taped to her butt. This was brilliant as it was broadcast on 4 giant screens across the ballroom.

One of the tricks to sponsorship is to get the audience to remember the brand that is sponsoring. Typical signage in the room is still a good way to promote a sponsor, but it’s not as memorable as Dena’s butt sponsorship. I still vividly remember both sponsors, and think positively about them because I am sure they both have a good sense of humor. Since there was nowhere on the stage to put a sign, she used her imagination and her “assets” to create memorable branding.

Speaker Sponsor is working hard to provide more of these opportunities for members in the future.

As a speaker, there are numerous ways to get paid to speak, and sponsorship is one that is clearly in your hands.

Thanks to our own sponsors, Tropicana and McCormick & Schmick’s for their sponsorship of Speaker Sponsor at the MPI World Education Congress!