Don’t Let Your Clients Suffer From Post Terrible Speaker Disorder


Getting outrageous demands from a client?

Your client may be suffering from Post Terrible Speaker Disorder!

Symptoms include:

  • Unreasonable demands to review your material.
  • Uncomfortable interest in your wardrobe.
  • Limits on your use of stories about other clients.
  • Utter fear of your selling products.

Periodically a speaker colleague will lament about a client’s unreasonable demands. It always reminds me of an experience that almost forced me to cancel an engagement. The client requested to review and edit my speech script, PowerPoint® slides, and approve my wardrobe. I was also asked not to share my website, mention any materials I might have for sale, or any marketing information whatsoever. Initially, I was offended. I’m a professional speaker. This is what I DO. How dare she?

But wait, why in the world would she act like this in the first place?

“Did you have a bad experience with a speaker?”

What followed my question was 15 minutes of venting about last year’s speaker. Yep, sure enough Post Terrible Speaker Disorder! That terrible speaker had arrived in shorts and flip flops, the client assumed the speaker would change prior to the event.  Not so; the speaker took the stage during a high-end women’s wellness luncheon in flip flops! The client was horrified as the speaker flipped through PowerPoint® slides saying, “Oh, that doesn’t belong here!” The speaker then told wildly improper stories, and sold from the platform. This terrible speaker ruined this client for the rest of us.

No, the terrible speaker was not a member of the National Speakers Association, had she been, the client would have the opportunity to file an ethics violation with the association. This is just one of the reasons it makes sense to hire an NSA member. Once a client experiences a terrible speaker, it is difficult to trust the next speaker (or next several speakers). As true professional speakers, it is our job to smooth the way for the speakers who follow us, and do our best to serve our clients no matter how challenging.

So, how do you serve a client suffering from Post Terrible Speaker Disorder?

Get on their side: Yes, the demands are annoying, but try to see it from the client’s perspective. Their reputation, and perhaps job, is riding on this event. Your job, is to make them look good. Make sure your client feels your commitment.

Give in a little: You don’t have to give in to every demand, but give where you can. Give an outline of your program points. Make a slide show of your PowerPoint. Hold a Google+ Hangout and talk face-to-face about wardrobe issues or the culture of the audience and organization.

Give a guarantee: Feel confident about your ability to perform, and you should, why not offer to return the fee if you don’t live up to your promise?

Eliz Greene

Eliz Greene

Women's Wellness Speaker at Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative
Eliz Greene works with busy people to improve heart health so they can work well, feel better, and stress less.
Eliz Greene
Eliz Greene
Eliz Greene
Eliz Greene

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