Speaking Of Speakers

by Cara Gieringer  on Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 12:00 am  

Sims also suggested hiring a speaker or public figure with appropriately marketable credentials. For example, in order to garner more visibility at future meetings and trade shows, the Little Rock Convention and Visitors’ Bureau may enlist the help of someone like well-known author and professional speaker Paul Vitale. By promoting the occasion as a chance for attendees and exhibitors to meet an established author and receive personally autographed copies of his books, (“Sell with Confidence” and “Are You Puzzled By the Puzzle of Life?”), the CVB’s trade show booth instantly becomes an opportune place to engage with prospective customers and industry partners between sessions.

Nicole Hunnicutt, copywriter at Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods, works on multiple projects for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and routinely attends the annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism. She recommends variety if an event is going to feature a multi-speaker slate.

“For instance, this year’s conference was held at Southland Park in West Memphis; it was my first trip to the historic greyhound racetrack,” she said. “My favorite speakers from this year’s conference couldn’t have been any more different: Dave Carroll, a quirky Canadian singer-songwriter, who presented United Breaks Guitars, a discussion about how his protest song-turned-viral video [viewed millions of times on YouTube] became an eye-opening example of how social media has changed the culture of customer service.”

Keynote speaker, straight-shooting U.S. Army Gen. (retired) Russell Honoré, had a different approach tailored to his subject.

“A straight-shooting retired Army general who served as commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, [the general] spoke about preparedness in the face of natural disasters,” Hunnicutt said, adding it was a subject “you wouldn’t necessarily think about at a tourism conference, but it makes sense after witnessing tragedies like Katrina and like the BP oil spill and how long it takes for communities to recover and rebuild. When you consider Arkansas’ location, especially our position on the New Madrid fault, it’s important for us to equip ourselves with knowledge and resources.”



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