Speaking: Frequently Asked Questions
After nearly a decade of professionally speaking at events, we often hear the same questions from event organizers and speaking bureaus. To help make life easier, we have compiled some of the most commonly asked questions below along with responses from Rohit. A few of the responses are even available on video.
To check availability or discuss having Rohit come to your event, email Renee Strom at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at +1 612 281 4517 and we will get back to you very quickly (usually within an hour or two)!
Q: What makes Rohit different from other speakers?
Two things make me different. The first is that I always share non-obvious, non-cliche, and actionable ideas. I don’t use canned presentations and always heavily tailor my talk for specific audiences. The second benefit is that I REALLY partner with an event team to make their event successful. Everything from helping secure partners to getting more people to register. At the event itself, I am always approachable off stage and make a point to be part of an event (instead of running to and from the airport). When I commit to an event, I am invested in doing everything I can to help make it successful financially and editorially, and always seek out innovative ways to deliver more value for an audience.
Q: How customized will Rohit’s talk really be?
As you might expect, I do have some prepared stories that I reuse. Honestly, that’s better for everyone – since most event planners don’t want completely untried material. Also, if there is a particular element of a talk that I already did which you watched online and loved – let me know! That way I can make sure to include that in my talk for your audience as well. My aim is always to pair stories which have been tested to resonate with a live audience together with new original content. How much exactly is customized? I’d say most of my presentations have about 20% new and original content tailored specifically for an audience. Of course, we all know that 36% of all statistics are completely made up anyway …
Q: How do I know he understands my audience and industry?
Thanks to the past 15 years working in consulting groups and agencies, I have had some experience in almost every industry you can imagine. Last year, in the span of a month, I presented keynotes to the global marketing team of a large Vodka brand, a large group of industry association executives, 3000+ customers of a large enterprise software company, and the sales team of a national financial services brand. In between, I participated in two keynote panels – one on increasing collaboration between CIOs and CMOs, and another on how to support and foster more women leaders in business. The point is, I have never been focused on a single industry. As a result, the perspective I bring to your event is based on some industry knowledge of your space, combined with the ability to make relevant parallels to other industries and bring an informed outside perspective to your event.
Q: What is it really like to work with Rohit?
I’m glad you asked! Here’s a short video testimonial from one leader of an Association who was kind enough to go on video and share her thoughts about working with me after we completed multiple events together.
Q: Is the pen really mightier than the sword?
While scholars have debated this question for many years – as an English major in college I have always believed in the power of writing to change culture. Swords don’t inspire people. Unless of course they are written into stories where they are pulled out of stones by kings.
Q: I know it’s not legal (or nice) to ask, but what is Rohit’s nationality and accent?
Don’t worry, I’m not offended! The short answer is – my accent is what one event planner described as “Global American.” In other words, I was born in India but moved to America when I was very young. Then after graduating I moved to Australia for five years. As a result, I definitely have an American accent, but I tend to speak more clearly (and slower!) than most American speakers and more than once have been rated as the #1 speaker at global conferences because of my ability to use more international English, avoid hard to understand slang, and handle the complexity of live translation.
Q: What if I need a 36 minute talk EXACTLY?
Ok, chances are you probably don’t. But no matter how long of a time slot you have open – that time is precious and there is nothing worse than a speaker who kills the flow of your schedule by going over time. Unless your schedule is open ended – you can expect I will stick exactly to my time on stage and keep your event running smoothly.
Q: How often does Rohit speak at events?
In a typical year – I will usually deliver between 30 and 40 talks (between 3-4 per month). This is on the lower end for professional speakers – and the reason is because I prefer to balance my speaking with my publishing, teaching and consulting work. I speak at events I have a passion for – but will sometimes refuse a speaking opportunity or refer a fellow speaker if it’s not the best fit. Most of all, I do not speak so often that I’m likely to get burn out or force myself to resort to delivering canned uncustomized talks.
Q: How much does it cost to book Rohit?
This is where most speakers usually will tell you that “it varies.” It does for me too – but that’s not particularly useful for you so I’d rather just be transparent about it. My typical speaking rate for US based keynote speaking is $25,000 USD. On occasion, I will speak at a discounted rate sometimes depending on the event location (if I happen to be in the area already), the audiences, or if you have something other than money to offer and we can come to an agreement that works for both of us. If you’re in doubt about whether you can make the budget work, I encourage you to get in touch and let me know what you’re working with. It never hurts to try!
Q: Why is it so expensive?
If the rates seem high to you – I can just share that they are fairly standard in the industry for someone with the type of background and experience that I have. And I can guarantee that when I participate in an event, I aim to earn every dollar of my fee by working hard to customise my talk, be part of your event, create content and materials for audiences after the event and generally be super easy to work with.
Q: Why is it so cheap?
If you are a professional event organizer used to booking speakers of a certain type, this rate may seem lower than what other speakers with a similar history seem to charge. The reason for that is simple – my intention is to increase these rates over time. For the time being, though, I am more interested in keeping my rates lower and participating in more higher quality events.
Q: Does Rohit work with Speakers Bureaus or Agencies?
All the time! Get in touch and we can discuss your event further and how Rohit can put together a customized approach, talk description and other materials for you to share with your client. Don’t worry, he can always turn these around VERY fast – no matter how crazy your deadline happens to be.
Q: How big, exactly, is Rohit’s ego?
I’m glad you asked! Speakers naturally have larger than normal egos, otherwise they wouldn’t thrive on the time they spend on stage. So, yes, I do have an ego — but it is not fragile or demanding. I never expect anyone to treat me like royalty and I always take the time to listen and learn from the people interact with. And above all else, I aim to remain down to earth, approachable, and live up to a fact my business card promises … that I am indeed a nice guy.
Q: My audience has never heard of him – isn’t that bad news?
Not necessarily! At many of the larger 4000+ person events I speak at, I may not have the same name recognition as a business celebrity like Malcolm Gladwell or one of the judges from the Shark Tank, but I am regularly brought on at huge events as a second or third keynote speaker that can deliver an unexpected point of view for an audience. Not to put too much of a spin on it, but if your audience isn’t familiar with me – I can deliver in a much bigger way for you because you’re the one who “discovered” me.
Q: What will Rohit never, ever do in a million years?
I pride myself on being flexible, but there are a few things you can expect me to never do. The first is that I’ll never use bullet points or prescripted templates for my talks. I can use a customized cover, but my presentations are highly visual and don’t work on other templates. The second thing I’ll never do is sell or promote any of my books or other efforts from the stage. No one likes that.
Q: What if I need something other than a 1 hour keynote?
Unlike other speakers, I don’t always need all the attention to be on me. I have been moderating keynote panels with celebrity speakers and MCing entire events. For both roles, I understand the combination of providing a dynamic and high energy voice to an event while also being able to stand back and let others take the spotlight. Increasingly, I have been using this skill to provide more value to events beyond just delivering a talk on stage.
Q: What are Rohit’s travel requirements?
I live in the Washington DC area and travel from either DCA or IAD airports. For any events in locations further than 3 hours by flight, I typically request direct business class flights. For shorter than 2 hours, I request direct flights – however economy class tickets are typically fine. Let’s be honest … if a flight is less than 2 hours, then business class doesn’t really matter! For international event planners, I am a dual citizen of the United States and Australia.
Q: We don’t pay our speakers – most of them do it for the networking. Does Rohit do that too?
I completely appreciate that model of event – but the truth is I have been doing less and less of these. The main reason is because speakers who focus on this type of event aim to use their time on stage to drive their own business opportunities. I know this because it’s what I used to do when I had a day job working at a large agency. My only goal now is to make sure your audience gets the most value … and not generating leads for myself. For that reason, with a rare exception, I typically don’t participate in events that are networking only.
Q: We are a nonprofit or educational institution – can we get a discount?
I would love to try and make something work and do support nonprofit groups as often as I can with mentoring or presentation at their events. Two causes in particular that I believe in and frequently support are helping to mentor and support more women in business, and encouraging more young people to be entrepreneurs or choose careers in business and marketing. If your event or audience fits either of those categories – you have a better than average chance that I may be able to make something work. Just get in touch and I’ll be happy to see what I can do to support your efforts.