Speaker dilemma: Canned v. customized

I was chatting the other day with someone who does a lot of speaking work and who recently gave a presentation at a meeting industry association conference. I mentioned the canned speeches the "thought leaders" at ASAE and The Center's conference did, and how they were swarmed afterward (the ones I saw, anyway), with planners interested in hiring them for their own meetings.

He brought up a point that I hadn't thought about before. While we always say we want speakers to customize their presentations to our audiences, the very act of doing that may put them at a disadvantage. For example, this guy said he customized 90 percent of his session to be specific to meeting planners' issues. But, because meeting planning isn't his area of expertise, he felt he was shortchanging himself, especially compared to other speakers who barely tweaked their canned speeches. "I lose the opportunity to really showcase my stuff by customizing it totally," he said.

Which makes me wonder if this holds true outside the meeting planning industry meetings. Do speakers risk losing something when they customize? Do audiences gain more than they lose? I still think customization is vital, but this was a different point of view that hadn't occurred to me before.

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