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CEOs bombarded by speaking requests.

If CEOs didn't have businesses to run, they could keep quite busy simply accommodating all of the speaking invitations they receive annually. According to a survey by global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, chief executive officers receive an average of 3.4 speaking requests per week, or 175 per year.

Such a wealth of requests requires CEOs to make choices about which forums provide the biggest return for time spent. However, survey results show most companies have no rigorous measure for determining conference ROI. That's surprising, says the public relations firm, given that "forwarding the business" was cited as a leading criteria for choosing executive conferences.

"Companies are searching for answers on which conferences provide the most value in return for their time and effort," says Carol Ballock, co-author of Burson-Marsteller's first Most Valued Conferences Survey. "Given the tightness of schedules for most CEOs and C-suite executives, it's vital to know where they will deliver the most value for their company, the brand and key stakeholders when spending their time at a conference."

Among the venues identified by survey respondents as the most valuable for CEOs were the World Economic Forum; the Business Round-table, a CEO-only membership organization; and the Detroit Economic Club.

The survey, conducted during the first quarter of 2005, queried some 100 corporate communications officers, 70% of whom say they are responsible for choosing CEO and C-level conferences.

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