Event planners need inspiration, too.
It is a difficult, stressful and ginormous job planning out a conference that will educate, entertain, or inspire. So where do you get your inspiration before creating your vision and mapping out your spreadsheet?
Sometimes the best inspiration is inspiration from the tried and true. The greats who have lived before us. The ones who never attended a modern day conference but who would’ve moved your attendees to standing ovations as your keynote, if they had spoken.
So today, enjoy the words of some master orators. Don’t hurry through them. Savor each sentence, each thought.
1. Abraham Lincoln
Imagine Lincoln as your keynote. In his book Washington in Lincoln’s Time, Noah Brooks wrote that Lincoln’s second “…inaugural address was received in most profound silence. Every word was clear and audible as the ringing and somewhat shrill tones of Lincoln's voice sounded over the vast concourse.” Given on March 4, 1865, here are some of those words:
"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
Words that are moving, logical and piercing. Lincoln would be a keynote speaker your attendees would be talking about far beyond the event.
2. Helen Keller
Her speeches are full of wisdom and compassion, traits that were born in her through her difficult journey to communicate. Helen spoke, and a translator who understood would speak out her words. The following words came at the dedication of the AFB Cornerstone, delivered before the American Foundation for the Blind at New York, New York on December 5, 1934. Her words:
"A warm sense of satisfaction sweeps over me as we lay within this corner-stone the record of what has been done for the blind in the past. Thrilled by a spirit of adventure I look forward to yet more splendid achievements in the future.
"The field of activity before us is ever widening; the surprises are so varied, and the subject suggests so many unseen forces at work, on is kept wondering what will happen next.
"From the beacon that shall rise upon this Corner-stone of Beginnings, kindled by Mr. M.C. Migel's noble generosity, will radiate beams of light which will penetrate every corner of Dark-land. Myriad-eyed Manhattan will pass this House of the Blind night and morning, desiring things they lack --- wealth, beauty, power, whatnot, and sometimes they will ask themselves, "Would I give my coat and take theirs?" I know the answer, and I pray that they may thank God for the blessing of their sight, and remember that the kinest (sic) way to aid the blind is not to pity them, but to be a Friend to them."
As a keynote speaker at a modern conference, Helen Keller would illicit profound awe and appreciation of a speaker who lives the words they deliver.
3. Teddy Roosevelt
Jacob Riis, a journalist in Roosevelt’s day wrote that whenever there was applause Roosevelt “often raises his hand with a warning gesture to stop it.” Thus, there was never much applause during his speeches, and it forced people to actually listen to Theodore instead of mindlessly clapping along with everyone else.
So if he was your keynote, he probably wouldn’t tolerate the cheers but he would deserve them none the less. The Man in the Arena is a famous excerpt of President Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Hopefully, these words of great speakers will have lit a flame of inspiration in you as you begin your next conference’s planning. Words can change the world. Make sure your conference planning begins with the inspiration that powerful can create.