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What’s one of meeting planners’ biggest fears? A frowning audience – or worse. They need speakers who energize their audience.

They love speakers who motivate attendees to practice what they learn and eagerly share their successes with each other all year long – and at the next conference.

In this wobbly economy any organization needs their people to be performing well and sharing with each other.

As a speaker, here’s one way to partner with the meeting planner to get more audience members actively involved in adopting your ideas, telling others and buying more from you.

Evoke the Similarity Effect

Use it when hired to speak – as a reason to bring you back for a return engagement. It benefits meeting planners in several ways. Attendees become higher-performing because they actually put your tips into practice, motivate each other to improve and to rave about the conference.

First, here are the three steps of involvement, evoking the Similarity Effect

  1. Attendees are more likely to believe a recommendation when people who are similar to them made it. Being in the same organization and/or audience evokes that feeling.
  2. They are even more inclined to believe it when they know the people who made the recommendation.
  3. People are most likely to act on a recommendation when the people they know refer to problems or opportunities that are familiar and important to them.

The side benefit is people feel more familiar and closer to each other after exchanging helpful recommendations. When such sharing happens in a group, the group becomes more close-knit and eager to help each other and to collaborate. That’s a bunch of good news for any meeting planner.

When a meeting planner hires me to speak I suggest, for a return engagement, these steps and benefits for making both my sessions more interactive and meaningful. I speak on connective conversation and collaboration but this approach can work for any speaker or topic.

When I speak to the group the first time I invite attendees to write to me about a successful way they use one of my methods, saying I will, with input from the organization, pick three lucky people to share their success with their colleagues the next year.

As well I will give a free eBook to everyone who emails me about how they were successful, using a tip.

Two months before the next year’s conference I meet by phone with the conference committee to choose the three finalists. Then I contact those three individuals, invite them to speak and review with them what they would like to say.

At the beginning of my return engagement session I will open by saying, “It’s so good to be back and to seemany familiar faces. Now you love to hear news-you-can-use from each other while you’re here at the conference, right?

Then please listen closely to three of your peers here in the audience who successfully adopted one of the methods they heard me suggest when I spoke to you last year.”

“After they speak you get to vote for your favorite example by circling that person’s name on the form that you found on your seat. Then pass it to the aisle where volunteers will collect them. Votes will be counted by volunteers while I’m speaking.

“That winner will receive a $400 package of my products plus a gift from our sponsor, an exhibitor here at the conference – (I say the name of the firm.) The runners up will get a $200 package of my products and a gift from our sponsor.”

Everyone here in the audience who, within three days, sends an email to (name of meeting planner) with a tip from this talk – and the way they will put it to use – will get a gift eBook of all the submissions sent to me from last year’s attendees – and oh are they good. Congratulations to these contributors! This eBook gift is underwritten by another generous partner – (name of sponsoring exhibitor).”

The three presenters are prepared, standing back stage, so they can quickly walk over to the floor mike on the stage near me.

With this set up, the three who will speak in front of their peers are motivated to be their articulate best.  When they are done speaking I ask for applause in appreciation of their success and use the last tip as the segue into my keynote.

When I am done presenting, the meeting planner comes up on the stage to thank me and to then announce the winner. All three come up to accept their gifts from me that the meeting planner gives to them. They are invited to get the sponsor’s gift at their tradeshow booth.

Then the meeting planner announces that we have one more gift for the audience. At the upcoming break to visit the tradeshow floor, attendees who drop by the booth of the sponsor of this contest will get a special gift, a booklet with tips from the speaker, Kare and from the sponsor.

Shared Benefits From Evoking the Similarity Effect

By presenting to their peers about their successful experience the three individuals gained bragging rights for themselves in front of their colleagues, reinforced my visibility and credibility with the audience – and motivated more of those colleagues to hire me and/or buy products from my web site.

By providing a layered set of ways for attendees to learn from each other and from me the meeting planner generated more value for her meeting.  The meeting planner can charge the exhibitor for the opportunity to be a named sponsor with a reason to pull attendees to their booth and to be visible for a longer time with their company name on the gifts from them and from the speaker.

How Similarity Can Spark Credible Testimonials

•  The more actions one observes in support of someone or something the more credible and compelling the effect.

• If someone hears something from someone who is similar to them the more quickly and deeply they believe it and act on that belief.  This effect is stronger if they witness the testimonial in the company of their peers.

• The more actions people takes on behalf of a belief the more deeply they believe it and the more prone they are to tell others.

Even if you are not speaking to a group you can gain customer-attracting benefits by evoking the Similarity Effect.

Benefit from evoking the Similarity Effect by providing multiple ways that your happy customers get recognized and rewarded for telling you and others about why they like your products or services. Each time they share their view they become more deeply believing and articulate fans – thus increasing their desire to tell others about you and your organization.

For more ideas about how to make conferences and other meetings more involving and memorable visit these experts:

Association Jam

Principle Innovation


Ben Martin

Social Fish

Velvet Chainsaw’s Mid-Course Corrections

National Speakers Association


moving from me to we


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