Things I Despise About Speaker Marketing Videos


You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.”

In the case of the majority of speaker marketing videos, it’s true!

According to research by VCC and Tagoras, meeting professionals consider the speaker marketing video the most important sales tool available. More than a book, social media presence, blog or one sheet.

Note: this post is about meeting professionals using speaker marketing videos to hire that speaker. Not videos used to market the conference or event.

Get The Popcorn, It’s Speaker Video Friday

In one of my previous jobs, I used to receive 30-60 speaker marketing videos and proposals a week. Yeah, there were a lot.

At one point, I stopped taking cold calls from professional speakers because it became so overwhelming and annoying. It was just too much. There were too many people vying for a few coveted spots at our ten events.

Once every two to three months, my team would gather for Speaker Video Friday. We would spend the entire day watching as many videos as possible…as quickly as possible.

We would stop for lunch and talk about the worst videos we’d seen. We even made fun of them. Then we’d come back and have popcorn while we watched the remainder of videos.

How long did we spend watching each video? Max, three minutes. Then we’d do thumbs up or thumbs down vote.

We had it down to an art and could tell very quickly whether we thought the professional speaker would resonate with our audiences. Typically we could tell within 30 seconds whether the speaker had the delivery style that we wanted. We were not as concerned with content at this time.

We rarely, if ever, watched the entire video. We were thrilled when the video had a “table of contents” so we could jump to where we wanted in the video.

Once we were finished, we dumped all the videos in the trash.

Every once and a while a speaker would captivate us and we would watch as much of their presentation as we could. That was rare though and happened less than a dozen times during my seven years on that job.

Did poor lighting or audio annoy us? Rarely. We weren’t looking for professionalism. We were looking for authenticity.

Speaker Video Fails

Here’s a list of the things that we hated about speaker marketing videos.

1. The In-Your-Face-Here’s-Why-You-Need-Me-Speaker

It’s like the bad used car sales advertisements. Every ten seconds a new “Wham, Bam, Thank You Ma’am” reason to hire this speaker popped on the screen. It was nothing but a poorly edited fast paced pitch of how this speaker would make your audience swoon.

Our response? Not a fat chance! Listen, we hear your theme song, “Desperado.”

2. The Direct Fireside Chat

Reminiscent of the Presidential fireside chats, the speaker would look directly into the camera and launch into one of her presentations followed by why we should hire her. It came across flat, insincere and like a bad sales push.

Our response? You must fail a lot if you are afraid to show us a real presentation in front of an audience.

3. The Podium Evangelical Yell

I don’t like it when a preacher yells at me at church, why would I like it when you yell at me in a presentation? When a speaker works him or herself into an emotional frenzy, there’s a deeper issue at hand. And you showcased this in your marketing video?

I’m not sure why speakers think that raising their voice provides emphasis and gets heard. It actually does the opposite and makes us question if you are sane.

Our response? Trash it!

4. The Faux Speaker Pose, Smile And Point

Also known as let me cross my arms, turn my head and look at you in the camera pose. YUCK!

Are we watching a national dog show? Stand, smile and point.

Really? Come on. Show us who you really are when you are on stage and off. We don’t want to see your stage persona, as if you are acting. We want to see transparency, authenticity and the real you. If your presentation includes a character, that’s different.

Our response? If you act like that on stage, do you act like that in real life? We’re assuming you do because that’s what you showcased. Pass!

5. The Who’s Who That’s Hired Me List

When the video highlights a laundry list of who’s hired you in the past, we dump you. If you lead with your hired list as a way to show credibility, we automatically dislike you. Save the list for the end of the video, if at all.

Oh and by the way, we are calling two or three of your references to see if they would hire you again. If the answer is no, you’re out.

Our response? Leading with references says you must be really proud of yourself. We’re not!

6. The Slick, Jazzy, Infomercial That Actually Feels Slimy

These videos are slick and professional. They show just the right clips….when the speaker makes the audience laugh, when the audience stands and applauds, when the audience is sitting mesmerized by the speaker’s words and more. It’s nothing but a poorly done trailer of the high points of the speaker’s presentations.

Our response? Where’s the beef? Why all the editing? Why can’t we see a real presentation? Not a spliced and diced edited version to show off your buzz words and audience’s reactions. Must be all you got. Dump it.

If you hire professional speakers, what turns you off in their marketing videos? What do you normally look for in the speaker marketing video?

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  1. Oh boy talk about a can of worms!

    Thanks for sharing the conversation we all say we would like to be the fly on the wall to hear.

    Now, for these styles, it seems to me that a speaker just cannot win here. Let’s look at what we have to work with:

    **Less than 3 min
    **Don’t lead with your best stuff
    **Show it all, but we will not watch more than 3 min
    **Make an impact but do not use your best stuff to make it

    You know I am gonna ask, who are the top three videos you liked and let us see their work 😉

    Can you say this will be a segment on #Speakchat-good!

    1. Jeff Hurt says:


      Think of your marketing video as the next best thing to a potential client being there live. If I am going to consider you as a speaker, I want to see you live in action first. If I can’t get to a presentation, then I want to see you in action in a video. All of the other stuff is clutter to me.

      Here’s what I saw that I liked the best. Speakers that gave me a Table of Contents (TOC) at the beginning of their video with links where I could jump to sections that mattered to me. What we wanted to see most and foremost was the speaker in action, in front of a live audience. We wanted video of both the speaker and the audience so we could see their reactions. If the TOC listed a live presentation, we jumped to that part and ignored the rest. It’s fine if the video included a list of past clients, a personal message from the speaker, etc., as long as we knew how to get to what matter. It’s when there is no TOC and you expect me to wade through your ads to get to the real stuff. Those that didn’t provide a TOC, we would fast forward until we got to a recording of a live presentation.

      I’ll look for a couple of recent speaker videos that I think do it well to share.

      Update: Here are a couple of video clips that worked for us.
      Amanda Gore – she is one of the few that we watched the entire video.
      Tim Gard – his website provides multiple video clips that show both him and the audience in action.

  2. Doug says:

    While I realize what I’m about to say sounds ridiculous, hiring professional speakers never seems to work out that well much of the stuff we’ve worked on.

    While they are certainly polished and entertaining, industry experts with speaker training work far, far better. Usually it’s a CEO or an engineer with people skills.

    Anyone else have this issue?

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      I see things differently.

      I’ve hired thousands of professional speakers that were experts and had far better presentation delivery skills than our industry speakers. Frankly, most of the CEOs and engineers that I’ve heard were some of the worst speakers around and should never have been presenting at all. Just because you’re an expert does not make you an expert at presenting.

      Here’s my experience:
      People with great content and poor presentation skills fail!
      People with poor content and great presentation skills succeed.
      People with both great content and great presentation skills are the home runs for sure.

      Don’t know who’s hiring the speakers you see but if they are held accountable for poor and great speakers alike, they’ll change what they’re doing to make sure all their speakers are great. BTW, for seven years, my salary was based on the average score of all professional and industry speakers that I secured.

  3. Great post, we have learned from more and more of our customers that this is a growing problem. What is amazing is organically speakers from the events we work with have been cutting clips from their presentations and using them to get invitations to new events.

    It is always great when someone uses a product in a way you did not originally intend. Do people really send you DVDs?

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      No, people no longer send me DVDs. That’s way outdated. Just goes to show how fast the times change. What’s unfortunate is how many speakers still don’t put up a video clip of their presentations. When they don’t, it sends a message that they don’t want to show how bad they are, especially in this day when online video clips abound.

      Thanks for reading and commenting too.

  4. Jeff

    Great examples. Now in fairness the two topics you were drawn to had high volumes of humor in them. Amanda had your endorphins rolling and that is not something we all specialize in and Tim the same. So I suspect you were high on humor 😉

    Great points to have a table of contents, yet why would I post a video that long. It has been told to everyone that is the bane of arrogance to post a long video. So indeed we would pick out clips that allows you to see highlights of us. Not because we only want you to see us as perfect, but mainly because many times video footage is either too far away to be helpful, does not allow you to see us if we are working the room, and we are having to record our own presentations because either the event did not budget to record or the colleague or friend we asked to use our camera did not do a bang up job.

    Yes, it would be optimal for us to hire professionals. That is not always possible when we are speaking at for example Blogworld in LA ( I spent days trying to get someone to video my presentation there to no avail).

    Then when you do get a camera set up, it is recording you not the audience.

    I bring all this up for your readers to be thinking about how can they get good video of them speaking using the guidelines you outlined.

    Is it optimal for you to hire a professional videographer, sure. Is that in everyone’ budget while they are building their speaking business, ummmm nope.

    Now, one point I would like to bring up here since we are discussing speaker’s video is how many speakers I have heard would happily pay someone for a video of their speaking when they were at an event. As event planners, since many of you are asking us to speak at reduced fees, travel expenses only and sometimes covering our own costs, imagine the good will you would generate by having a videographer there to record the presentations.

    You could make this a digital ticket and generate a new stream of revenue. You could sell to your speakers ( that you paid them a speaking fee) a reduced rate so they can get a good video and the word would get out from those speakers, helping you get more speakers for your next event.

    Heck, you could even get a company to sponsor that piece and ask each speaker to write a blog post about the sponsor and give them an even bigger blast of PR.

    How is that for ideas Jeff?

  5. […] editing to chop up their vids. Here is Jeff’s take and he has got some really awesome points. Things I Despise About Speaker Marketing VideosVirtual MeetingsYes Victoria, you sometimes need to have a virtual meeting, if event planners would […]

  6. Thanks for the tips. As a speaker without a video, I love knowing more about what will earn a nod and what will earn a delete.

    Funny thing, though. Most of my work comes from word of mouth, and only one time has someone asked me for a video. Like I said, I don’t really have one yet, but I do have a little low-budget testimonial video that I can share.

    Learning, learning…

  7. Dave Wheeler says:

    I just came across this blog post (Jan.2013) while I was doing research for a new site I am developing and you make some great points in this article (which I will definitely put to use).

    I would love to find out if you had any suggestions for me as I develop a Speaker Review site called

    [full disclosure: My other site is where I help speakers market themselves more effectively… and luckily most of the demo videos we have made for clients already incorporate most, if not all, of your suggestions.]

    Looking forward to reading the rest of your blog !

    Dave Wheeler

    P.S. As a speaker myself, your suggestions are priceless. Few event planners have the time to give individual speakers feedback on their demo videos and I will certainly pass these ideas on to my speaker friends! Thanks again !

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