Less Is More

Gail Davis, 17 May 2016

In 1995, while working on the other side of events as a meeting planner, I was in Maui with Rob Schneider.  He was so funny and I was looking for every opportunity to use him at EDS for our general session, awards night, recap video, anywhere he would fit.  Then he looked at me and shared something he learned on Saturday Night Live, “less is more.” He explained to me it is always better to leave the audience wanting more.

This advice has been valuable to me over the years in coaching speakers and clients for the maximum impact.  I recently found another great application for his lesson.  This month my company turned 17 years old.  In the beginning, I monitored the number of speakers in our database.  I was constantly updating the website to say GDA Speakers works with over 500, 1,000, 2,000 speakers.  Somewhere along the way that number got to 5,000.  That is when I remembered less is more.

There was no way my team knew everything about 5,000 speakers.  It is impossible.  As a team we went through a laborious exercise of categorizing our speakers.  While the process was time consuming, the goal was very simple.  We now have three categories:

High Priority:  This is a speaker who has GDA booking history and they have received positive feedback from our clients.  We know these speakers and GDA can deliver the highest quality experience.

Radar:  This is a speaker our clients or trusted industry partners have recommended.  In many instances we have met these speakers or they have visited our office but we have not had the opportunity to book them.  We know the quality of their presentation and we are prepared to deliver a great experience.

Low Priority:  All others. We do not recommend or book these speakers.

Simple, yet a critical move as GDA continues to grow.  We have realized you can’t be all things to all people.  It is important to vet and curate the list of speakers as we add to our team.  In conjunction with this exercise, we have also invested in an all new automated system.  We encourage our high priority and radar speakers to update their information in real time in our speaker portal.  This way our clients are getting the latest and greatest information.

This concept has also carried over into how we do proposals.  We make the absolute best speaker recommendations to compliment the goal of the event.  We know our clients are busy and we do not want to ever overwhelm.  It is always easier to widen the net. 


It is freeing to no longer brag about a big number but instead to confidently know that less is more.