Thursday, June 22, 2017

Speaking of Speakers: Tips to Manage Keynote Speakers - Smart Meetings Magazine

Our very own Amy Crocker was featured in an article in Smart Meetings Magazine - check it out!

Speaking of Speakers: Tips to Manage Keynote Speakers


Managers of professional keynoters offer tips on working with clients

A few recent trends are converging in a way that’s making it tougher to find, book and prepare keynote and general-session speakers for an effective performance at a meeting.

According to Amy Crocker, a partner at speaker-management firm Standard Ovation in Overland Park, Kansas, many planners are contacting her just four to six weeks ahead of a meeting to secure a presenter who will have a featured slot in the program.

Yvon Douran, owner of Keynote Resource in Santa Barbara, California, finds that many planners are using YouTube as a primary tool for vetting potential speakers for their events, but glossing over other relevant factors such as the speaker’s specific business background.

Then there is the rising demand for shorter speeches with more audience interaction built in at the end of the presentation—or even in the middle of it, which is tough for many professional keynoters who have a tight, well-honed presentation.

“The TED Talks that we all see online are driving preferences,” Crocker says. “In the past few years I’ve seen requests go from 60 to 90 minutes down to just 30 to 45 minutes. Smart speakers realize they have to adapt somewhat, but a lot of them have developed a brand through their content and style and don’t want to come off of that too much.”

Condensing the Message
Douran says many speakers simply can’t get their full message across in less than 45 minutes because they have so much expertise in their topic.

“An inspirational speaker could probably come down from 60 to 45 minutes, especially if they have a PowerPoint or video package they could trim,” she says.

A business-focused speaker who customizes parts of the speech for a particular audience could focus on just the three or four most important points that come from the preprogram questionnaire Douran sends to the planner.

For speakers who customize, though, that questionnaire should not be the only education they receive about the group. A phone call with the planner and key meeting stakeholders is of significant benefit as well—but with lead times being so short for many meetings, the planner must be proactive in making that happen.

“The speaker wants to hear who the audience is in terms of demographic and job function, the goals and objectives of the entire meeting, and the specific challenges and pain points that should be addressed,” Crocker says. “We also want to know the topics or even the phrases that should not come up in the presentation.”

On the other hand, Douran finds that planners who come to her with flexibility in their preferences can get the type of content they want even with short lead times.

“Every group wants to feel like the speaker knows their specific business, but planners often come to us asking for one type of speaker and then go for someone else we suggest, based on other events our speaker did that had similar objectives,” she says.

In a common scenario, groups that say they want a pure business speaker end up booking a more entertaining personality with a message that’s relevant to some aspect of the group’s business.

“A lot of speakers are not customizing their content much, but many times they don’t have to in order to hit the mark for the client,” Douran adds.

But to make this work, planners must understand the full business background of the speaker.

“Because of the way speakers can promote themselves on the internet, I’d take a closer look at the profile—if they use a lot of buzzwords but don’t talk much about specific business concepts or processes, I’d be wary about using them for something other than a motivational objective,” Douran says.

Logistical Considerations
To work around many planners’ shorter lead times, Crocker often asks for a flat fee for her speakers’ travel expenses and makes the travel plans herself.

“Our speakers aren’t booking their flights the same week they sign the contract to do an event,” she notes. “Speakers usually can’t lock into flights six weeks out because they don’t know which city they will be coming from. So we offer cost certainty to the client through a flat fee (usually about $1,500), and if we have to book flights one week out, then that higher cost is on the speaker.”

As for coordination with audiovisual technicians, Douran sends each speaker’s technical-requirement sheet to the client right after signing the contract. Sometimes, though, a speaker wants to be directly in touch with the audiovisual person who is working the session to make sure certain technical things will be taken care of, she says.

Most planners want the speaker’s presentation slides and other materials in their possession at least a week ahead of the event, but this is more difficult for speakers who customize their presentation significantly.

“Some of our people actually get onsite the day before to speak to a few attendees and add things to their presentation—not big changes but adding some relevant specifics,” Crocker says. “When an audience sees that the speaker made that kind of effort, they perk up and are more inclined to really listen.”

In such cases, an almost-final version can be sent to the planner a week out, and be used as a backup onsite in case the speaker’s latest version does not work properly in presession testing.

“Both parties should get everything out in the open as far out as possible,” Crocker says. “The speaker will be flexible to a point, but they have spent time building their brand and expertise, so you can’t expect too much change from what you have seen them do for other groups. Tell us what you need from the session, but then let the speaker take that information and do what they do best.”

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sam Richter Inducted Into the Minnesota Speakers Hall of Fame


June 15, 2017 -- Minnetonka, MN-based and St. Louis Park native, Sam Richter, C.S.P. (, was last night inducted by the National Speakers Association into the Minnesota Speaker Hall of Fame. Sam is only the 28th person ever inducted into the Hall of Fame and joins some of the world's most distinguished professional speakers and Minnesota icons (find the list at

Sam is considered one of the world's leading experts on sales intelligence and digital reputation management, and through his in-person motivational keynote presentations and online university, annually helps hundreds of leading companies and tens-of-thousands of persons around the globe grow their businesses by creating strong and relevant relationships.

In addition to speaking, Sam is a best-selling author and his book won Sales book of the Year. He has developed a number of technologies including the world’s top news search engine, YouGotTheNews, and the Blog search engine, YouGotBlogs. He is a partner at Contata Solutions, a big-data/machine learning firm that produces sales, marketing, and business intelligence software. Sam was named one of the Top 25 Most Influential Sales Leaders and he is a past Finalist for Inc. Magazine's Entrepreneur of the Year.

Sam is a graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Journalism, where he also played varsity football and was a two-time Scholastic All-American. He serves on the Board of Directors for Minneapolis-based Brandpoint and Argos Risk, he is a long-time judge of the Minnesota Cup business plan competition, and he volunteers his time as a mentor to many Twin Cities business leaders and University of Minnesota student athletes.    

You can learn more about Sam at or via Wikipedia at

Contact Standard Ovation!
Charlotte Raybourn, Standard Ovation, LLC
(913) 498-9774

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Standard Ovation Receives 2017 Best of Overland Park Award

Press Release


Standard Ovation Receives 2017 Best of Overland Park Award

Overland Park Award Program Honors the Achievement

OVERLAND PARK June 1, 2017 -- Standard Ovation has been selected for the 2017 Best of Overland Park Award in the Event Planning category by the Overland Park Award Program.

Each year, the Overland Park Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Overland Park area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2017 Overland Park Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Overland Park Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Overland Park Award Program

The Overland Park Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Overland Park area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Overland Park Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community's contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Overland Park Award Program

Overland Park Award Program


Thursday, May 25, 2017

We did it again! Winner of the "Management Agency Of The Year - USA"

Dear Sarah Whitten,

Once again many congratulations on winning the following award in our 2017 Business Excellence Awards

Management Agency Of The Year - USA

Dr. Gary Bradt: "Leading Others Starts With Managing Yourself" - Forbes Magazine, May 25, 2017


Leading Others Starts With Managing Yourself

Gary Bradt, Adapting-to and Leading Organizational Change

If you can’t manage yourself, you don’t have a prayer of effectively leading anyone else.
For instance, let’s say it’s been a stressful week, and a day at the beach sounds like the perfect solution. Only on the day you planned to go, it rains. How will you react? Will your mood darken along with the skies, and ruin the rest of your day (and everyone else’s)? Or will you quickly let go of disappointment, and suggest alternative activities for your group?
It’s a small but revealing choice. Followers are watching, and will take their cue from you. And the unexpected rain, like any unexpected or unwanted change, will dictate your experience negatively - if you let it.
Self-management is the ability to quickly scan a range of potential responses to any situation, then choosing the one that leads to preferable outcomes. It means being aware of your automatic, hair-trigger emotional response – your autopilot – and overriding it when necessary.
For example, if your autopilot response at work is to search for solutions whenever problems arise, great. But, if your autopilot response often leads to a drawn-out process of fault-finding and blame, it may be time to override.
The same principle applies at home. For example, if your one-time star student suddenly begins to struggle, does your automatic response help kick them into gear? Or does their downward slide continue, despite your best efforts? If it’s the latter, you may want to change your approach, before you once again try to change them.
Self-management requires self-reflection. It is the ability to ask "Is my response to surprising change or difficult problems obtaining the results I want?" If so, great. But if not, self-management means having the humility, and sometimes the courage, to change course.
Self-management is an acquired skill for some, and one that everyone can polish. Here are some tips for developing your self-management acumen you may find helpful:
• Think of it like the Internet of Things. Today, practically every machine and device we use daily is loaded with sensors that monitor and control their output and effectiveness. If continuous feedback can help keep a self-driving car on track, for example, perhaps continuous feedback can do the same for you too.
• Don’t rely on self-assessment alone. Often, others will feel the negative effects of your automatic behavior before you do. So, when someone offers feedback, take it. Accepting feedback doesn’t mean you must act on it. But it can provide valuable clues that your autopilot response has you off course, relative to your intent.
• Pay attention to patterns. If one person shares a piece of negative feedback, it’s a data point. If more than one shares similar feedback, it may suggest a pattern. And negative patterns may mean a change of behavior is indicated.
• Announce your intentions. If you decide to work on changing your automatic responses, let people know what you are doing, and why. For example, if you discover a pattern of overvaluing your opinion to the detriment of others, announce "I’m going to work on listening more and speaking less," lest followers wonder why you’ve suddenly gone mute.
• Ask for ongoing feedback. When changing your behavior, ask a few trusted advisors for ongoing feedback. Let them know the behavior you intend to change, and ask for immediate feedback when they catch you doing it right; and, when they catch you sliding backward. And, when they provide feedback, thank them.
• Be gentle with yourself. Almost everyone struggles occasionally with automatic responses that oppose their intent. When you recognize a negative pattern in your behavior, take heart, for now you can address it. Beating oneself up rarely helps anyone move forward.
Bottom line: Self-management means choosing your behavior to get the results you want. It is a skill that can be cultivated and improved. Learning to monitor and regulate your own behavior can be the first step to becoming a more consistent and effective leader for others.

Dr. Gary Bradt is a thought-leader who speaks on the topic of adapting and leading change to leadership and executive teams. For more information on Dr. Bradt's keynote programs and how he can help your organization, contact his management company, Standard Ovation




KANSAS CITY, May 2017The International Association of Speakers Bureau (IASB) has elected Charlotte Raybourn, Partner at Standard Ovation and current board member, as the incoming President-Elect for the 2018-2019 term. IASB is a 501c6 nonprofit trade membership organization of speakers bureaus, lecture agencies and speaker management companies located around the world. Founded in 1986, IASB provides leadership to the bureau industry through education, resources and partnerships with organizations that support the meetings and events industry. Raybourn has demonstrated a high-involvement and strong knowledge-base of the professional speaking industry. This elected position validates Raybourn’s hard work and involvement within the association, as well as her devotion to her company and the industry.

Raybourn is one of the founders of Standard Ovation, a professional speaker management agency, for over five years. Raybourn has been an active member in IASB since joining in 2012. She’s sat on the board since 2015. Her dedication to the code of ethics stated in IASB’s bylaws, and for her involvement in educating the market on industry trends, are just a couple of recognitions Raybourn has proven herself in order to receive this honor.

For the past 30 years, IASB has consistently had tenured and industry-experts take the lead of their association, and Raybourn is no different. Her role as President will continue that legacy and commitment which its’ members pride themselves on since the association was formed.

For more information about IASB, visit their website:
To contact Charlotte Raybourn, visit her webpage:

Charlotte Raybourn began her career in Los Angeles at Wilkinson House Much Public Relations, a boutique publicity firm specializing in entertainment publicity. While working on the client list that included actors Alicia Silverstone, Lisa Kudrow, Josie Bissett, Rob Estes, Tiffani Amber Thiessen and Michael Richards, Charlotte developed an eye for emerging talent. It is at WHM that Charlotte gleaned the bulk of her PR experience.

Charlotte also worked on the Emmy Award-winning television show Frasier as well as the production arm of the feature films The Aviator, Be Cool, The Holiday, 300, Pink Panther, Good Night and Good Luck, Charlie Wilsons War, Marley and Me, Indiana Jones, My Sisters Keeper, It’s Complicated, and Inception. She was part of the Academy Award-winning team from The Aviator and the BAFTA Award-winning and Art Director’s Award-winning team from Inception.

In 2010, Charlotte joined the speaker bureau business where she successfully brokered deals between celebrity/keynote speakers and clients. Combining her tenacious work style of booking speakers with her passion for personal branding, Charlotte is excited about bringing all of this experience to Standard Ovation. She is an active member of the International Association of Speakers Bureaus Board of Governors.
Charlotte graduated with a Bachelors Degree from San Diego State University in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Advertising and minor in Business. In her free time, Charlotte enjoys teaching yoga, playing the guitar, and traveling.

Standard Ovation is a professional speaker management agency for a very select group of some of the most sought-after keynote speakers, experts and thought-leaders within the industry. Our roster shares what we believe are the core attributes of a remarkable speaker. Our goal is to make sure every event a speech is delivered has the same remarkable characteristic as the message they deliver and value they add for every client. It’s our standard.  

Sarah Whitten
Partner, Standard Ovation, LLC
. . .



Friday, December 30, 2016


by Don Yaeger
In the final moments of the championship match, our head coach, and ESPN analyst, Jay Williams reveals to our team the final play of the game – DREAM! (Photo courtesy of Don Yaeger)
In a couple of days some of us will make New Year’s Resolutions and some of us will share them with others as a way to hold ourselves accountable.

But have you ever been challenged to share your dreams?  Earlier this year I spent a grueling week on the basketball court, learning about teamwork and dreams at “K Academy” which advertises itself as “America’s number one college basketball fantasy camp.”

Laugh all you want at the idea of a motley group of middle aged men of varying degrees of basketball experience grinding it out in full court games.  Playing on the famed court inside Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium under the watchful eye of the legendary Coach Mike Krzyzewski with his former players as coaches is certainly above our athletic abilities.

But Coach K and his players offered valuable lessons... which extend well off the hardwood.
My team struggled at the start of the camp, winning only one of our five “regular season” games.  That meant that of the eight teams who would play in the final day’s tournament, we were seeded seventh.  The night before, we had a team dinner and, truth be told, many of us had low expectations for our prospects the next day.  Our coach was ESPN analyst Jay Williams who won a NCAA title with Duke in 2001 and was the national college player of the year in 2002.  During our dinner, Williams shared a powerful story.

At the start of William’s sophomore year, after a practice, Coach K brought the players into the locker room to talk about the power of dreams.

“What would this life be without dreams?” Coach K asked Williams and his teammates.  “Dreams don’t have to relate to basketball but one of the things I want to focus on is what are your dreams?  I want your teammates to get a chance to know who you are.”
Mike Krzyzewski and Jay Williams. (Photo courtesy of Craig Jones/Getty Images)
Coach K pushed his players to share what their dreams were as he drew the team together.  Williams and his teammates were suddenly in the uncomfortable position of having to share their dreams, but Coach K encouraged them by reminding the players it would allow them to better know each other.

“That was one thing that stuck with me,” Williams told my team.  “Let’s find out who all of us are individually so we can find out who we are as a team, taking the time to get to know your teammates”

Williams looked back at the dream he shared, a vision he had held onto since childhood.

“I stood up before all those guys,” Williams recalled.  “My dream was something I’ve thought about since I was a little boy, something I used to do in the backyard when I played.  I wanted to hold the ball in my hands and throw it as high as possible as time dwindled off the clock in the national championship game.  That’s what I wanted to do.  I know it sounded cheesy, I know it sounded corny, but that’s what I always dreamed of doing.”

By sharing that dream, Williams was in the rare position of helping make it come true.  Fast forward four-plus months, Duke was in the national championship game against Arizona.  The Blue Devils led Arizona 82-72 in the final moments of the game.  As the clock ticked down, point guard Chris Duhon, who was dribbling out the clock, looked over to Williams and tossed him the ball so his teammate could live his dream.

“If you watch the tape, Chris Duhon has the ball up top,” Williams said as he looked back at the final moments of the game.  “I’m starting to become frantic since we’re about to win the national championship. In that moment, Chris Duhon, who is like a brother to me, waves me over.  I was like, ‘What? Why?’ He waves me over again and I move towards him as time dwindles down.

“He hands me the ball and I was baffled.  ‘What do you want me to do with this?’ I asked,” Williams continued.  “He just put his thumb towards the ceiling and said; ‘Throw it up.’  It was such a beautiful, amazing moment in my life.  Here we are about to achieve this monumental thing we had been working all year for and Chris Duhon, my teammate, my brother, took that moment to make me realize what my dream was and to help me fulfill it.”

Williams got a little emotional as he told us that story.  Then he asked what our dreams were for the tournament the next day.  It was nearly as uncomfortable as his description of the Duke locker room conversation with Coach K, but one by one, my teammates stood to share a dream.  One teammate, probably our oldest player, said he “just wanted to do something, anything, to contribute to the team.”  One of my teammates had been going to the camp for 13 years and never won the championship.  He said his dream was to win it on Sunday despite our poor record.  Another teammate said his dream was to stand next to that 13-year veteran when the team cut down the nets.  My dream was to contribute to the team’s success by setting a hard pick.  (If you’ve ever played with me, no explanation needed!)

Our head coach at K Academy, and former Duke Blue Devil,  Jay Williams. (Mark VonHolden/ AP Images for Discovery Communications) 

We all had different dreams but that dinner proved to be the glue which made the next day special. The guy who wanted to “contribute” dove for a loose ball, leading to an easy basket.  The rest of us went nuts yelling for him. I set my hard pick (erroneously called a foul, but I’m not bitter) and my teammates shouted encouragement.  After sharing what we dreamt about, the next day we rallied together, winning games and advancing through the tournament.  With a comfortable lead in the final minutes of the championship game, Williams, who had been drawing up plays for us all day, called a timeout and wrote a single word on his clipboard: “Dream!”

Too often we don’t share our dreams with our teammates: what we hope to accomplish in our careers, what we want in our personal lives.  Of course there’s a risk in sharing dreams.  We open ourselves up and make ourselves vulnerable.  But, unless we share our dreams, we can’t help each other achieve them, the way Duhon handed the ball to Williams at the end of the national championship game.

“At Duke, we treated each other like we were all family and that spoke volumes about the culture of winning,” Williams told me.  “Whether it be in business or sports or your own family, those are the types of moments you hope to create.  That’s winning.”

Instead of sharing a New Year’s Resolution, share a dream.  What’s yours?  Who was your Chris Duhon who let you live it?  Who was your Jay Williams who told you how important it is to share your dreams?  I’d love to hear you story... and I’ll hold you accountable in 2017!

Don Yaeger is a motivational speaker and New York Times best-selling author.