It seems a lot of folks want something for nothing. After a recent garden lecture, I offered my booklet for sale, cheap! No one bought one. But I was duped into giving one away.
While I was packing all my stuff, I asked folks one last time if they wanted a copy of my book, I heard a faint “yes, I want one.” So, I autographed and signed the book, but when I asked for the money, she held her palm up in the “high five” position, and that was what she paid. What could I do? Nothing, I had already wrote her name on it, To: and I wasn’t about to beg her for the money in front of everyone there. It’s not that I’m bothered by not selling any books, it’s the fact that some folks are so stingy that they always want something for nothing.
A couple of weeks ago I attended a conference on native plants and sustainability. I’m sure we’re all familiar with native plants, but what about that last one? It’s a word I hear over and over again and as a garden communicator you’d think I’d know the exact meaning. Well, I don’t, and I’m not the least bit happy about it. I was expecting to get a better understanding of what it meant, unfortunately that didn’t happen and at the end of the day I left the conference unfulfilled. I suppose I could’ve asked those in the know (there were many hortheads in attendance) but I didn’t have enough time for hobnobbing afterwards.
I was also disappointed by the lack of material handouts and other info that should’ve been standard giveaways. I paid good money to attend and thought there should have been a little something more substantial to take home besides a folder and a couple of brochures. I’m a garden speaker, and when I give lectures I usually have two or three handouts with pertinent information about the topic I’m discussing. Folks at lectures want something to take home that lets them know it was worth their time (and money) to attend. I don’t think it’s too much to ask of a garden speaker to have at least a little something for folks, and by “a little something” I don’t mean a skimpy folder with hardly anything in it.
Of course there will be variances on the amount of money that garden speakers can afford to spend on things to give away at lectures. Newbies like me who’re just getting established can’t afford much, but I make sure I have plenty of handouts, and maybe a houseplant or two as a door prize. I’m not one to brag about my capabilities as a speaker but the reactions and feedback I’ve received tell me I’m doing something right.
Here are five things for speakers to give away at lectures that I think folks would enjoy.
Question and answer time – folks have questions that need answers, if you don’t hear many folks asking questions don’t assume they don’t have anything to say.
Handouts – but don’t overdo it, just what’s needed to give an overview of what you discussed.
Free plants – a couple of houseplants if your talk is during the off-season, and the sky’s the limit in-season.
Door prizes – check with your local nursery for any quid pro quo opportunities!
Books – if you haven’t published one to sell at lectures, find several you have lying around under your desk that you don’t read and give them away.
Be invigorating, enticing, and engage your listeners when you give lectures. Don’t read your notes word for word, and PLEASE don’t read your Power Point slides word for word either. I’m sure we’ve all been to lectures where the speaker is so boring you wish you’d never sat down. It’s not that difficult to walk and talk at the same time, move around!