Event Speakers: How to find, choose, prepare, and leverage them for your event
Find out the best strategies you can follow to find event speakers, choose the right ones, prepare them and leverage them for successful virtual and hybrid events.
Event speakers can make or break your event. Boring speakers can ruin the occasion, making your audience drift away and leave the event with a poor impression.
Contrastingly, great speakers can make the event memorable, making a mark on attendees’ minds and boosting the event’s reputation.
For organizers, it can be a daunting task to find speakers. Where should we start? What channels should we use? Knowing speakers are so decisive to the event’s success, how do we choose the right ones?
Then, there is the matter of preparing them. Even the best event speakers won’t perform if they aren’t familiar with your audience, their needs, and objectives.
And, speakers’ overall impact should not be limited to speaking on the day. They can certainly prove a powerful asset to leverage, but how should event organizers do so?
To tackle some of these burning questions, we outline here some of the best practices and tips that will help you find speakers, pick the right ones for your event, prepare them, and leverage them to your advantage.
- How to find event speakers
- How to choose event speakers
- How to prepare event speakers
- How to leverage event speakers
How to find event speakers
At the very first stage of finding speakers, keep in mind your mission and objectives. Who is your target audience? Why would that target audience want to attend the event?
That event’s overarching mission will inform the topics you cover, which will, in turn, inform your search for speakers that are experts in that field.
And, the nature of your event will influence the style of your speakers, whether that’s an educational or rather motivational speaker.
At a second stage, when it comes to the search for speakers, networking proves vital.
Social media platforms can be extremely valuable for that, so be proactive and keep your eyes open for opportunities.
Indeed, many professional speakers are active on LinkedIn and promote their speaker roles at different events. So make the most of that, browsing the site extensively. Once you land on a specific speaker, make sure to thoroughly review their work profile, experience, and past events.
Additionally, you can utilize online communities to network and find speakers that industry peers have worked with and recommend. For instance, EventLand is a global community of supportive event profs where you can get referrals to speakers for your next event.
In a similar line, the recent burst of Clubhouse onto the scene can help you find talented speakers. The app is easy to use, so you can drop into industry-relevant discussions and keep your ears open to assess the speaker’s skills.
How to choose the right speakers
After doing initial research into speakers and shortlisting the best ones, make sure to do your homework. Delve into the content they are creating, review their business values and objectives, and watch some of their recent events.
Remember, your event speakers are the public face of your organization. So, integrate your core business and cultural values when you look for them. For example, to ensure diversity and inclusion in your events, the speakers’ lineup should be diverse and balanced.
When you start doing the outreach, set up a meeting to discuss and understand if and how speakers’ objectives and expertise fit into your overall event narrative and their specific session or panel.
In that approach, always take your event audience lens. Most probably, your attendees don’t want to be sold by your speakers. Ask for the valuable insights, experiences, tips, & tricks the speaker can bring to the table.
Alongside that, consider looking for unique speaker traits or personalities that set speakers apart. In the events that you have attended recently, what speakers caught your attention? How did they interact with the audience and communicate their ideas?
Whether that’s a fun presentation style or incredible storytelling, look for uncommon skills to draw the audience’s attention and interest.
How to prepare event speakers
From the moment you chose your speakers, start preparing them for the event day. As we mentioned, even before picking your speakers, you should familiarize them with the overarching narrative of the event.
That event mission should be consistently communicated and repeated, so it’s front and center in their minds.
Going into specifics, send a clear outline to speakers on how much time they have to speak, the sessions coming before and after, and the allocated time for Q&As with the audience.
Crucially, set up dry runs where you introduce all the different speakers and hosts. Also, outline a detailed script, send it to all speakers, and go over it together so no stone is left unturned.
Rehearsals are essential in virtual events, as they allow producers to evaluate the speaker’s camera, microphone, lighting, and internet connection. As a result, they can flag potential issues and address them before it’s too late.
And, rehearsals allow speakers and organizers to get a better sense of the timings. Consequently, they can reduce the number of questions, slides, or videos accordingly.
How to leverage event speakers to drive attendance
Event speakers have their own audience and can be one of the most powerful assets for marketers to deliver well-attended and successful events.
But the event organizer – speaker relationship is not one-sided. Both parties should treat it as a win-win since most speakers also want to prop up their brands and boost their awareness.
Event speakers as ambassadors
On the one hand, aim to convert your speakers into your ambassadors. Above all, it’s about making it easy to promote your event.
For instance, consider creating a speaker pack and providing marketing collateral. This can include copy for social media posts, specific hashtags to follow, and images tailored to each event speaker.
Otherwise, you can design an event promotional image including the full event schedule and send it to all speakers. By promoting all the event sessions and lineup, each speaker will drive awareness for their session but also for the event brand and drive attendance for the entire occasion.
Importantly, measure and analyze how effective your speakers are in increasing attendance. A UTM tracking link is a great tool to do so, as you can generate one for each guest speaker and track exactly how many attendees they bring to the event.
Alternatively, working as an added incentive to strengthen your brand reputation and encourage the event promotion, you can send speakers swag bags including merchandising items such as t-shirts, mugs, pens, etc.
Event speakers in your marketing
On the other hand, speakers should also be central in your marketing communications.
At the least, feature your speakers prominently on your event website, including their bios and social media profiles.
Moreover, feature them on your social media, with posts highlighting each speaker and covering their experience and the value they bring to the event.
In addition, tap into the power of video for your marketing efforts, asking speakers to record a pre-event video calling for registration.
Finally, as a matter of best practice, make sure a person in your event team acts as a liaison. He or she should communicate with speakers throughout the planning process, building strong relationships and being responsive to specific needs at any time. That way, speakers will be committed to the event promotion and contribute to a successful event.
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