Professional speaker and conference regular Douglas Kruger shares some simple tips for a better event:

Perhaps it's a nationwide roadshow with a budget that could draw Oprah. Perhaps you're just meeting under a tree in the middle of the bush, where you've provided a bottle of Oros and set out ten chairs in case anyone pitches. No matter how big or small your event may be, there are a few simple things you must do in order to ensure that it looks professional. 

After some 15 years in the speaking industry, I've come to believe that the perception of professionalism surrounding your event has very little to do with the food served or the number of stars on the hotel's ratings, and everything to do with a few very basic fundamentals. This year, I've already spoken at a number of events at which the organisers let themselves down in silly ways. 

Here are 5 seriously simple, but absolutely non-negotiable things to remember whenever you host an event: 

1. Before the event, call your presenters and ask them what they will need. Nine times out of ten, speakers will need a projector and a screen, at the very least. Some will not be able to present if you've forgotten to organise the projector. If you have more than 50 people in a room, chances are that you are going to need microphones and amplification too. In that case, check with the speakers whether they prefer handheld mikes or lapels

2. On the day, someone needs to be at the door, greeting people who arrive and showing them where to go. When your guest speaker has to do this, because no one appears to be in charge, the tone drops ten notches in professionalism (and your speaker judges the heck out of you) 

3. Someone must call the meeting to order and set the scene. It's really simple, but it must be done: "Ladies and gentleman, thank you for attending. We are here today in order to..." Without this scene-setter, your guest speaker feels like a complete banana walking to the front of the room and attempting to justify their presence to the baffled assemblage. The speaker effectively starts on a back-peddling note 

4. Someone must introduce the guest speaker, and they must do it as if they actually know who the person is and what they are about to present on (from my side as a speaker, I've fallen afoul of this oversight so many times that I now travel with a printed introduction, which I hand to MC's). The absolute bare minimum you can get away with is this: 'Our next speaker's name is Douglas Kruger. Douglas will be presenting this morning on innovation. Please help me to welcome Douglas Kruger.' I'm not kidding when I say that I've had days when I would have been grateful for even this much 

5. Someone should thank the speaker after their presentation. If you have a little Toastmasters training, you might know to reiterate one or two ideas from the presentation as part of your summation and thanks. If you don't want to go that far, that's fine. But to end the event with the speaker saying 'Thank you,' and then have the audience look around wondering if there's anything else, or whether they are supposed to leave now, looks very amateur. I know, because I've lived through such excruciating moments. Recently.  

There are many more things you can do to elevate the tone at your event, but they're largely frosting on top. These 5 things are not negotiable. Even if you are meeting under a cloth covering in the middle of the bush, where your speaker and eight guests sit on plastic chairs, if you get these 5 points right, you've probably hosted a successful and professionally run event. By contrast, you can book out the Sandton Convention Centre and provide 5-star catering; but miss the mark on these five, and you've truly struck out.


Douglas Kruger is a professional keynote speaker at conferences around the world. He specialises in disruptive innovation and expert-positioning, helping brands to become more memorable than their competitors’. See him in action, or sign up for his motivational newsletter, at Book him to present for your leadership team: email