How to win over any event planner

Updated to Business, Speaking on January 23, 2023.

As a professional speaker you will work with event planners. In this post I’m going to save you some nightmares, disasters, and faux pas. Pay attention, Grasshopper, this will help get you referrals and make you money.

First, an “event planner” is anyone in charge of the event. In my case, 30% of my speaking bookings come through speaker bureaus – they’re not the event planner. Of my direct bookings (the other 70%), I might be in contact with the CEO, Executive Director of the association, VP and Human Resources, whoever – they might not be the event planner either.

The event planner is in charge of the agenda and will evaluate you. And there’s three types.

  1. There’s the private person who was brave enough to book the hotel and bring in speakers. They definitely hold the cheque book.
  2. There’s the corporate, not-for-profit, or government employee (or sometimes volunteers for not-for-profit’s) person who put their hand up and now they’re in charge.
  3. And, finally, there’s the professional event planner who was hired by the “client”.

Each one has different bosses, but all have the same basic needs and I separate those needs into before the event, during the event and after the event:


Depending on the size of the event, there could be all sorts of deliverables requested before the event, like copy of handouts, speaker’s bio, A/V needs. Pay close attention to those needs – you don’t want to be the speaker they’re chasing down for travel plans one week before the event.


Number one rule in speaking: keep your promises, no matter how small. If you say you’ll meet the planner at 6:45 in the lobby to tour the banquet hall, be there at 6:40 waiting for them. If you promise to finish at 10:30 for the break, finish at 10:28. Period.

Number two rule in speaking: event planners (bless their hearts) don’t really care what you talk about – they’re way too distracted with finding the next speaker who is on a conference call 20 minutes before they go on stage. They also don’t consider you a big deal on the agenda – lunch probably cost more than you. But they do care that delegates and their boss are thrilled that you are on stage.


Sure, you caught your flight and now have your next event to think about, but the event planner doesn’t. They’re fretting away over paying bills, dealing with lost luggage, and debriefing the event. Shortly after the event is the time to check in with the speaker’s bureau (if there was one involved) to let them know how it went and pass on any leads you’ve generated. And to touch base with the event planner with a small thank you and gift.