Category Archives: Best Practices for Conferences

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Best Practices no. 124- Advice from a Guy Who Works with Conference Celebs

Last time I talked about using celebs to boost attendance at conferences, so this week I thought I’d talk with a guy who works WITH the celebs. Just don’t call him an Agent (you’ll see why later).

Here’s Rikki at a convention with actor Brian O’Halloran from Clerks.

I met Rikki Adams a few years back at X-Con, a pop culture convention in Myrtle Beach SC. As we were both there for a number of years, we got to know each other pretty well. You might also remember X-Con was also mentioned in a previous interview with Robin Roberts, the founder of X-Con.

Rikki quickly progressed in the convention scene from a volunteer to a fulltime job. As a matter of fact, he’s booked almost every single weekend this year working conventions. As he works professionally year-round in the industry, he has a lot to offer. To avoid inundating you with a monstrous e-mail, I’ll break his interview down into several segments.

For now, I’ll let him tell you about his best experiences working conventions. Here’s Rikki-

It was definitely XCON. I considered it a mid-sized CON.  The volunteers were local and we all knew each other as friends. Being friends helped because it made us care about the big picture, which was to ensure everyone had a good time, including the clients.

Everyone was assigned duties based on their strengths.  There were also a lot of activities just for the volunteers and awards given out at the end for those that went above and beyond. I remember one year the award went to the guy that volunteered to clean up the vomit in the bouncy house. He actually volunteered to clean it up. Another nice thing  about XCON was the after dinner. There were two. One for the clients and one for the volunteers. It was nice touch.

I enjoy the bigger cons, but I tend to lean towards a smaller ones because they’re more intimate.

I can’t really say there has been a “worst experience” as a volunteer.  I was just happy to be there. The only time it gets bad is when there is someone in charge, and they do not know what they are doing.
At XCON we would meet throughout the year before the show and discuss our assignments. By the time the show starts, we all know what is expected and are able to handle the unexpected.  And if we couldn’t, we knew who to contact for guidance.

You don’t see this a big cons. There are so many people involved and sometimes it would take an hour just to find the right person to talk to.

After working two shows as a volunteer I was officially signed on with ZSC entertainment.  I would be called as an agent or handler…but I am neither.  We are assistants to the agent. Handlers are volunteers that get assigned to assist us.  I am OK with being called a handler, but it does offend others within this group.

When someone’s intros me as an agent, I correct them because the agent is the boss and has a lot more responsibilities than I. I would never want my boss to think that I was trying to pretend I was her. So as long as I am not referred to as an agent, I am OK.

We’ll hear more of Rikki’s story in future newsletters. He has a lot of advice for vendors, speakers, and promoters.

Until then, I’ll leave you with this, Brian O’Halloran cutting off Rikki’s ponytail at X-Con to give you an idea of the steps Rikki goes through to keep his clients and the audience happy.

Thanks for tuning in,
Dr. Redbeard, a speaker who has no hair for Brian to chop off

For information on booking me as a speaker, click HERE.

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This message was written by a team of geeks, nerds, gamers, and Dr. David Powers. You can always find us at www.callsignredbeard.com. Thanks for reading!

In the words of Starship Troopers, “Would you like to know more?”

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Be the Easiest _________ to Work With

Here’s a short tip I learned from my friend Kent Julian over at Live It Forward. He said-

Be the easiest speaker around to work with.

It makes sense as a speaker. If I’m the easiest speaker in the world to work with, conferences are more likely to bring me back, have me do more, and tell others about me.

It makes sense for conference planners and vendors as well. If you’re the easiest person in your field to work with, it will repay you. Word will get around.

We’ve all encountered the dark side of this industry:

  • Speakers that are nothing more than overpaid divas
  • Vendors that don’t show up
  • Conferences that don’t pay invoices

I don’t want to be that person, and I’m sure you don’t either. No matter which side of the fence you’re on- vendor, planner, or speaker- make sure you’re easy to work with, forgiving of trivial issues, and gracious in everything you do.

Thanks,
Dr. Redbeard, one of the easiest speakers in the world to work with

PS- My buddy Kent Julian is not just a friend. He’s an accomplished speaker who has done more to push my business along than anyone else. He teaches speakers how to be better. You can find him at Live It Forward.

Here’s me and Kent together. As you can see, we have the same hairstylist.


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Conference Best Practices- Possibly the Best Vendor You’ll Ever Meet

The most recent best practices newsletter covered the point-of-view of a conference organizer. This time I’d like to give you the POV of a vendor. This interview will cover all bases from best practices as a vendor to how conference organizers can create an all star experience for their vendors.

Hector Miray is the founder of Faith & Fandom, and he normally presents at pop culture conventions. I’ve known him for years as a friend, through his books, and as a fellow vendor. He’s one of the best vendors I know, because he’s not in it only to sell things. His goal is always to enjoy and experience at the conventions and get to know people. Succinctly put, he shows up to a convention to serve the attendees.

Imagine the experience for everyone if more vendors did this!

Hector leading a church service at a comic book convention.

For now, here’s Hector, in his words.

Best Experiences-

“The best experiences I’ve had as a vendor are the ones where the conference makes me feel like I’m valued. Whether it’s promoting me and my material on their website and Facebook in advance, things like nice table markers or banners with my business name on it, or providing food and drinks. A break area has always been nice as well. Ones that take the time to make sure that’s my panels are at decent time slots and that my booth isn’t in like a dust closet somewhere.”

Worst Experiences-

“The worst experiences I’ve had as a vendor usually come when I put my time and money and promotion into a show, and it seems I put more work into building the show than the person who actually runs it. I’ve been in shows where there are more vendors than attendees. I’ve been in shows that I’ve attended for three or four years and never met the person running the show, and that when I try to establish communication I am abandoned.

Beyond running a show poorly, the worst show experience I’ve had as a vender was paying $80 for a table for a show that was cancelled and then the conference organizers disappeared with everyone’s money and have since vanished from the face of the Earth.”

Advice-

  • Don’t be angry when someone else is doing the same thing you’re doing. You having the idea doesn’t mean you’re the only one that had it.
  • Being a unique voice, material, and product definitely helps you stand out, but your personality and the way you treat the people that come by your booth also makes a huge difference.
  • Consistency is also a big deal. When someone sees you one time at a show they may not speak or stop in, but they might remember you the next time they come through.
  • Showing up repeatedly makes a big difference.
  • Never treat a small crowd like they’re less value than a big crowd.
  • If you have a speaking engagement at a show it helps when the showrunner promotes it, but you need to expect that you should be responsible for your own promotion for your speaking time. If that means adding additional flyers, banners or signage to draw people’s attention to your event, take that responsibility.
  • Give people something they can leave with to remind them of what you spoke on and encourage them to tell the convention how much they appreciated you.
  • If you are planning a conference do it at least a year in advance, with intermediate goals and checkpoints of promotion and contact you need to take place ramping up momentum to your conference.

Final Words-

“If I was starting over from scratch I would have tried to develop a bigger team for what I do. I also would have started out bigger and faster. My first year I did maybe three or four events. The last couple of years I’ve been doing 28 a year.  I can’t gauge events based on monetary or merchandise. I gauge them based on exposure and responses.”

All excellent advice from Hector.

One thing I’ve really noticed that sets him apart from a lot of vendors are frequent posts on social media during a conference that promote the con as much as his booth. Because he shows up to serve, he also gets a lot of people posting on their own feeds about him and his books and panels.

I hope you enjoyed this short interview. For more of Hector, you can find him on Instagram and Facebook. His books are all available on Amazon.

Thanks,
Dr. Redbeard

Here’s Hector and I after recording a podcast on a crowded playground.


This message was written by a team of geeks, nerds, gamers, and Dr. David Powers. You can always find us at www.callsignredbeard.com. Thanks for reading!

In the words of Starship Troopers, “Would you like to know more?”

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How to Convince Employers to Send People to Your Conferences

I wish I had come up with this myself, but I cannot claim credit for it.

The team over at the Social Media Marketing World came up with a great resource to send to potential attendees. It is just a sample letter and instructions that folks can pass on to their employers asking permission to attend the conference and possibly get it paid for by the company.

And it is incredibly effective!

I would highly recommend you take advantage of this. Craft a version of the letter and use it for your own conferences. I already do this to grab a few more attendees at my own keynote and training events.

You can find the letter by clicking HERE or on the screenshot above.

If for some reason the link is no longer active, e-mail me and I will send you a copy of the letter I use.

The goal here is to be the one conference or event that makes employers say, “If our people only attend one event, it has to be that one.”

Thanks!

Dr. Redbeard


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Welcome to Best Practices for Conferences and Vendors

Welcome to a new series for conference planning, conference vendors, and all things related!

I bet some of you get all weird with conferences, with post it notes and mindmaps all over your living room wall. That’s okay, though, because I do that working on my keynotes. In the biz we just call it storyboarding and planning.

Before we go any further, I’d like to tell you what this series is all about and introduce myself better.

#1- This series is all about helping you create and manage rock star level conferences. I promise to do that by sharing my own lessons and experiences as I attend and speak at conferences, including excellent, bad, and even horrible ones.

#2- I do not run conferences and am not a meeting planner. What you’ll be getting from me is unfiltered information from an outside point-of-view. In other words, the stuff you may not hear otherwise.

#3- I am a keynote speaker and trainer. I attend conferences and events all over the world in various industries. Not only that, when organizers bring me in, I enjoy serving at the conferences and attending them as well. You might hear me do a keynote one hour and find me attending a breakout session as a student the next.

#4- Other attendees open up to me and tell me a lot that they do not say on evaluation cards. Maybe it is my Santa Claus-like appearance or my counseling credentials that does it, but people hunt me down between sessions to hang out. Every now and then I even talk one into going mountain climbing nearby.

#5- I’m known for offering added sessions during conferences that I don’t charge for. I love hosting meet-ups in the lobby or a nearby eatery. I have even been known to lead Sunday church services or dinner party tattoo contests.

I hope you enjoy the series, but more than that, I hope your conferences and booths become legendary in your industry.

If you came across this post and want the series delivered to your inbox each time a new one comes out, click HERE.

Dr.David Powers, who is sometimes known as Dr. Redbeard by attendees

PS- If you do get crazy with the post it notes and planning, here’s some inexpensive ones I found on Amazon. Not that I bought them at all. Well, maybe I did (a couple of times).

Post-It Notes (off brand)


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