The speakers at your conference or event hold the power to make or break the big day. All of your hard work will be for nothing if your guests are left underwhelmed, or worse disappointed, by the quality of your content and its delivery. So make sure you give the decision of which speakers to book the attention it deserves by taking note of the following considerations.
No doubt the objective for your conference has been central to its conception, so hopefully summing up your aims for your event should be a simple task. Keep these to bullet points and list them in order of priority. They need to remain central to the discussion when debating any potential speaker.
What personality traits would you like your speakers to have? What background and qualifications? How do you want your speakers to make our delegates feel? Create an imaginary perfect speaker so you have something to aim for.
Setting a budget early on is really important so that you don’t end up disappointed with your options. If you know what you have to spend you can set realistic limits.
Get stuck in to some detailed research of possible contenders. Investigate similar events and see which speakers went down particularly well. Ask your potential delegates if there’s anyone they really want to hear from. Get engrossed in industry press to find out which experts are being asked to provide opinions on the current hot topics. Essentially, you need to become an expert in the experts. Your research should also involve watching videos or even better, seeing any short-listed possible candidates speak live.
When you approach your preferred choice, make sure you have a conversation with them (not their agent or representative) about what it is you’re trying to achieve. This will give you a sense of whether or not they are the right fit. If appropriate, ask to be kept in the loop as they prepare their material for the event to make sure it’s meeting the bullet points you made in your list of aims.
You don’t need to directly challenge a speaker on whether or not they are simply in it for the money or self-promotion, but keep this in mind throughout your correspondence. If they have a product or service to plug, make sure you are clear on how you feel about this. You need someone speaking at your conference who is focussed on your goal, not theirs.
Do your own research as far as references are concerned. It won’t take much detective work to find the organisers of other events your speakers have worked at and by contacting them, you can find out how well they were received and whether or not they were good to work with.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you know what you’re going to be getting for your money. Try to get confirmation that your speaker will put in some time pre- and post-event to help promote it and to hang around afterwards answering questions on the day and even continue the debates on social media in the weeks that follow.
Once you’ve made your choice, ensure you get a suitable contract signed as soon as possible so everyone knows where they stand.
If you need any help organising your upcoming conference or meeting, the team at W12 Conferences is at hand to help with as much of the planning as you need. Give our Events Team a call on +44 (0)20 3313 1609.