By Karen Jones
Outstanding speakers—those that deliver practical tips, motivate, and inspire—are the cornerstone of a successful event.
A “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” philosophy is fine for some occasions, but for Realtor® association conventions, it’s all about bringing it back home.
A winning formula for your conference will deliver the speakers and topics that will help members excel in today’s changing marketplace. “Number one is the speaker,” says Priscilla Toth, director of professional development at the New York State Association of Realtors®. The group’s annual event, the Triple Play Realtor® Convention and Trade Expo, covers the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and is scheduled for Dec. 5–7, 2006 (www.realtorstripleplay .com). Of prime concern to her attendees, says Toth, are speakers who can help them make—and keep—more money. She says programs that fit this bill lately are first and foremost fun but also demonstrate ways for Realtors® to expand their market while improving their image in the community.
Next on the “must have” list for a successful session is a speaker who provides solid, usable content. Theory has its place, but attendees want practical advice to take back to the office. Jim Pugliese, of Jim Pugliese Seminars, for example, is booked every year for the Triple Play event. Why? Because he attracts standing-room-only crowds by giving 100 tips that attendees can walk away with and use tomorrow, as Toth puts it. Other programs in Triple Play’s schedule include: “Empowering Your Agents in a Changing Market” from Buddy West, “Double Your Profits Without Doubling Your Work Load” from Terri Murphy, and “Hot Scripts and Strategies for 2007” from Bernice Ross.
Meanwhile, the Triple Play keynote remains inspirational with motivational speaker Ronan Tynan sharing his “Hitting Life’s High Notes: Living Life to the Fullest.” At age twenty, Tynan had both legs amputated after he was in a car accident. Undeterred, he became a doctor as well as a gold medal winner in the Paralympics. He also sang at Ronald Reagan’s funeral at Nancy Reagan’s request.
Betty Thomas, director of expositions and special events at the California Association of Realtors®, says keynotes and speakers must balance motivation with good, practical advice. This year at the association’s October convention, Terry Watson, a popular national speaker, discussed “Top Ten Technology Mistakes that 99 percent of Agents Make,” while Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist for CAR, presented her 2007 CAR Housing Market Forecast. Also scheduled was Jan Hargrave, frequent television commentator and an expert on nonverbal communication.
Communication, nonverbal and otherwise, is a hot topic this year, according to Thomas. “For a long time a lot of brokers had little need to communicate with buyers. Most buyers are now very savvy and on the Internet. We now know that communication and understanding what our buyers want are very important to all real estate professionals.”
It should come as no surprise that technology remains a hot topic at association events. Be it successful online lead generation, marketing, or solicitation, reaching ultimate productivity is about mining today’s myriad technology options. This year CAR devoted a whole day just to technology. The association’s general session is “Futurecast: Visionaries Discuss Technology in a Shifting Market” and features Brad Inman, chairman and CEO of TurnHere Inc.; Lloyd Frink, co-founder and president of Zillow.com; and Allan Dalton, president of REALTOR.com.
Small Budget Tips
It’s not just the big associations that can attract top talent on the speaker circuit. Smaller organizations are encouraged to network with other associations to see if they can share expenses. “By all means, partner,” encourages Toth. “We provide our local boards across the state with an educational resource directory where we give them names and contact information along with topics that speakers present.”
Sharing expenses is a very practical approach to event planning, confirms Karel Murray, a national speaker specializing in real estate-specific programs. “Everyone benefits from partnering,” Murray says. “If I speak at only one location, it is still three days’ travel—one to arrive, one to do the event, and one day back. It’s actually cheaper for me to be in one location for a week.” If you’re an association that cannot find a real estate partner to help share expenses to hire a motivational speaker, all is not lost. Try contacting the local chamber of commerce, school boards, and even hospitals to see what events are being planned in your area.
No one can hope to implement every great idea culled from a convention, but they don’t need to, says Steve Reese, director of professional development and marketing for the Oklahoma Association of Realtors®. “One thing I learned as a Realtor®, people will sit for an all-day course and maybe not do everything presented there and maybe not end up as a million-dollar-a-month producer, but they will get one, two, three great ideas out of those classes to take their career in another direction.”
Need a Great Speaker?
To find a qualified instructor for your new GRI course or a motivational speaker for your next association convention, check out the new speaker recommendation area in the Realtor® Association Resource Exchange (RARE) online at REALTOR.org. Realtor® association executives and their staffs have uploaded the names and contact information for their favorite speakers and instructors. Upload the information about your favorites to share with your fellow AEs.
The names listed in the RARE database are those recommended by your peers—speakers cannot enter their own names. Contact the recommending AE for details on the speaker’s or instructor’s performance. Over time, as more associations upload the names of their favorite speakers, finding talented professionals to instruct, motivate, and inspire your members will be a snap.
To access the database, click here.