Holy Mackerel! What’s the Best Speaker Gift Ever?

By Laura Bergells on

Recently, I received a can of mackerel as a gift. It wasn’t a speaker gift. It was, however, an unusual gift.

It was also an unusually thoughtful gift. How so?

A week earlier, I told an off-topic story. I heard an interview on NPR that fish at the bottom of the food chain — sardines, anchovies, herring, mackerel — are nutritious and better environmental choices than salmon and tuna.

However, most Americans haven’t developed a taste for these “lower food chain” fish. I mentioned that the NPR interview gave me the inspiration to try to develop a palate for these fish:

  • Herring, I already like.
  • Anchovies, they’re OK to cook with occasionally.
  • Sardines, meh. I had a sardine bake last week. It was OK, not great.

As for mackerel, I’ve been warned against it repeatedly. I’ve never tried it.

Holy Mackerel Speaker Gifts

That was the gist of my off-hand story. A week later, I received the can of mackerel as a gift, with the challenge to try it. I love a challenge, so I’m going to do it. I’m going to eat that can of mackerel.

More than anything, I love that someone was listening to my offhand comment, and took the time to respond with a thoughtful — albeit unusual — gift.

This made me think of business and speaker gifts I’ve given and received over the years. I once gave a man a smoked salmon as a speaker gift — long story, drug dogs at the airport went insane, security guards drawing weapons — but in the end, it all worked out. The guy’s secretary probably loved the story of temporary airport incarceration more than the actual salmon. But ever since, I’ve been leery of giving the gift of fish. It’s an act of crazy bravado.

However, you’ve really got a challenge when you give a speaker gift. How can you top an unusual, personalized gift like a can of mackerel or a story of incarceration?

The Best Speaker Gift Ever! One of the keys of giving a truly thoughtful gift is to listen to your speaker. If you’re hiring someone to speak at your event or for your organization, read their blog. Follow them on FaceBook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Watch for that offhand comment — it may be about a mackerel, a passion for falconry, adventures in beekeeping — who knows? Once you know a little bit more about your speaker, you can find something more personal that the leftover SWAG that’s been gathering dust in your office.

It may not be the actual gift that’s treasured — but the story behind the gift. Give the gift of listening and storytelling. Those are the best gifts any speaker can receive.

That, and cash.

PS — What are the oddest — and best — speaker gifts you’ve ever given or received? (And if you have any good recipes for canned mackerel, I’d love to read them…thanks!)