Selecting speakers for events takes time and lots of research.
Not only do you need to select someone that will help meet your event goals, you need to select someone that will engage well with your attendees.
Before reaching out to potential speakers, spend some time thinking about your audience and who they would like to see at your event. You also need to think clearly about themes and topics ahead of time, so you know what you are asking for when you start reaching out.
Once your speaker is confirmed, there are a number of things you can do to ensure everyone has a positive experience, including your attendees!
Lay down the requirements
Be clear from the very beginning. Explain who will be attending and why, the theme for the event and what experience you are hoping the speaker will deliver. Discuss the topic of conversation and which direction you hope to steer the audience. What do you want them to gain form this experience and how is their participation relevant to your event?
Sometimes speakers are confirmed months in advance. It is important to check-in regularly for any updates on the progress of their presentation and to answer any questions they may have. However, it is equally important not to interfere with the content of their presentation. After all, they are the experts in their field and you invited them to participate for this very reason.
Make sure you share logistical details with your speakers as well. If your event venue is hard to locate, be sure to provide some instructions and a map if necessary. This will help ensure they arrive on time. It is also important to share details about room layouts and tech; will there be a stage with lighting? Is there a lectern and screen? What type of mics will be available? Will there be time for a rehearsal? Is there a green room? Will chairs be arranged theater style? Classroom style? Providing answers to all these questions will help your speaker prepare accordingly.
If your speakers are preparing presentations, provide them with the necessary specifications and formats for the projector screens and equipment that will be used onsite at the event. If possible, request the final presentations ahead of time so that they can be tested accordingly. It will also be helpful to have a dedicated technician available for the duration of your event to help troubleshoot any last minute glitches.
Marketing and promotions
Request bios and headshots of your speakers and share your communications plan with them. If their details will be posted on your event website, let them know and ensure they are okay with it. Furthermore, if you are incorporating social media in your promotional strategy, encourage your speakers to post, repost, like and share details about the event within their own networks. Make it easy though – send them pre-prepared posts with all the relevant hashtags and graphics appropriate for the platforms you will be using.
Travel and accommodation
For out of town guests, select hotels that are nearby or walking distance from your event venue. You want to make things as easy as possible for your speaker, but you also want to ensure your speaker arrives at the scheduled time and location promptly.
Think things through properly. When your speaker arrives at the venue, where do they go? Who do they ask for? Communicate all these details in advance and ensure everyone is well prepped on their designated roles. Assign liaisons to meet speakers upon arrival, show them to any green rooms, backstage access and tech teams etc. Provide speakers with a complete agenda and their onsite point-of-contact, well in advance and always include a cell number so they can communicate any last minute delays.
And there you have it! Nail these few things and your speakers will not only thank you, they will probably want to work with you again at future events!
Ruby Sohi is founder and lead event planner at Royal Blue Events Management. She has extensive experience in event production and marketing. Actively involved in the community, she volunteers for the Sikh Foundation of Canada and Women of Influence. She is also a board member for the American Marketing Association (Toronto) serving as VP of Programming & Events. Ruby has delivered events across Canada and is passionate about enhancing the industry and empowering women. Read her full bio here.