department, where logic might place it, given the important learning function of many meetings.
Final decisions for professional speakers are most frequently made by the head of the organization
(25.8 percent) or a board or volunteer committee (20.2 percent). The vice president or director of
meetings (15.3 percent) or of education or professional development (13.5 percent) rank next. Staff committees play decision maker just 8.6 percent of the time.
Of the relatively large slice of “other” decision makers (16.6 percent), many of the open-ended responses reveal a combined approach (e.g., selection is done by staff and a volunteer committee) or a varied approach (the decision maker changes depending on the particular meeting).
Keep in mind that while we asked about final decisions, availability and pricing information is often collected by a lower-level staff person, who can’t sign anyone up—but can scratch names off the list.
Organizations with annual budgets over $5 million tend to make speaker decisions by staff, especially by meetings staff, rather than putting it in the hands of volunteers or board members. Those organizations use board or volunteer committees only 12.5 percent versus 25.6 percent of organizations with budgets of $5 million or less and rely on the head of meetings 23.6 percent of the time compared to just 10.0 percent of the time for organizations with the lower budgets.
Not surprisingly, smaller organizations are more likely to rely on the top dog for decisions—those reporting the CEO or executive director makes the final call have an average staff size of 54.9, which is marked less than organizations reporting reliance on staff committees (356.3 staff), board or volunteer committees (263.7 staff), and the head of education or professional development (169.2 staff).
Organizations that use evaluations and assessments to measure learning at their meetings are more likely to give meetings people the hiring authority than those that don’t: 27.1 versus 11.9 percent.
A larger education staff does not mean the organization is more likely to rely on that group for final decisions. The median number of individuals spending more than half their time working in education or professional development for organizations saying the vice president or director of education or professional development makes the call on professional speakers is just 2.0, compared that to the 3.0 median education staff for all respondents.
written by Jeff Cobb, Jeff Hurt, Dave Lutz, and Celisa Steele
published by Tagoras and Velvet Chainsaw Consulting