Speakers are the main attraction at any event. They’re central to bringing the day or several-day session together and can contribute massively to the content of your marketing materials. Choosing the right speaker for your business or charity event can be a real challenge, as there’s so much to think about. To simplify this process, we’ve put together this how-to guide.
Before you go about finding the right speaker for your event, you’ll need to outline some goals. Ask yourself these following questions to figure out exactly what it is you want from both your speaker and your event:
The type of event you hold and the way in which you market it will determine the sorts of people you attract. Think about what it is you want to achieve and don’t deviate. If you want an event to be authentic, it must have integrity – don’t simply invite people to get bums on seats but rather focus on enticing those that will truly benefit from your material, or have powerful knowledge to provide.
It is all very well holding an event to bring likeminded people together but you can’t just book a room, invite some guests, reserve a speaker and expect everything to fall into place. You need to entertain and meet expectations. Make sure you’ve prepared the day from start to finish and try not to deviate on the day. Event management is a job in itself, but the main thing is to have a clear focus for where the day will go and what topics should be covered.
Business Networking Events take all different forms, so you’ll need to decide upon whether or not you’ll have a theme. Think about ways you can encourage the sort of atmosphere you desire and ensure that your invitations and other marketing materials portray this too, preparing attendees for what they can expect. You’ll also want to communicate this to the speaker(s) you chose as part of the brief or ‘mandate’.
Stepping on toes is never cool, so it is always a good idea to check out what your competitors are doing and make sure that you aren’t about to try and double-book or steal a speaker. It’s also important to gauge what you are up against so you know what is required to make a real impact in the industry you’re in.
Even if you haven’t run an event before, you must have been to one. Pull on your previous experiences to see if there’s anything you can do or include that you may have missed. Give yourself an opportunity to think like your target audience. What would impress you at a business event? What made the last one you attended so good (or bad)? The more questions you ask the more prepared you will be for all outcomes.
You may know exactly what you want in a speaker but are having trouble finding the right fit. Here are a few tips to put you on the right path:
If you are marketing yourself well on a whole, publicising your want for specific speakers for your event via Social Media may just be enough to get them to come to you. And if they don’t, it’s likely the others will be more than happy to recommend. Get the conversation started – talk to your co-workers, make a few calls, send a couple of emails and update your status… before long you should be spoiled for choice.
We use technology to communicate but we also use it to research. There are so many useful resources online for you to utilise and therefore finding a pre-approved speaker for your networking event couldn’t be easier. Tools such as eSpeakers and the NSA hold a huge catalogue-style directory of star speakers which is great if you know what or who you are looking for but admittedly, can be overwhelming. This is why we advise heading over to Social Media for suggestions first, and then cross-referencing them to ensure you make a well-informed decision.
We’ll let you into a little secret: event managers often book several speakers not necessarily because they have the budget to, but because they have experience in last-minute letdowns. Professional speakers are human, and like any individual, they get ill and sometimes find themselves in impossible circumstances. Like most things, it’s always best to have a backup plan in case it all goes Pete tong!
Once you have a speaker in mind and know how to reach them, it can be tempting to get in touch right away. However, for the sake of everyone’s time and patience, it is a clever move to consider these three factors before approaching the speaker you’d like to hire for your event:
You have a vision and now you need to relay this. Think about how you will showcase your plans in a way that is informative but not overly complex. No one will get on-board with you if they can’t visualise what it is you are trying to achieve.
And they’re also likely to want to know what’s in it for them. How many business owners am I likely to meet? Will my name be used on the invites and if so, can my website be include too? These are the questions you’ll want to answer before they are ever asked.
Put as much effort into inviting your guest speaker as you would your actual guests. Let them know, way ahead of time, when and where the event will be held and what you’re prepared to pay for the service. Provide a map and some gallery images of the location so they can familiarise themselves with the environment without having to do a dummy run or turn up super early. If you can, offer to arrange their travel and lunch arrangements. At this stage, it is all about making it as professional and as clear as possible to avoid any possible confusion (trust us, more can go wrong than you’d initially suspect).
No matter how many times you’ve done it, standing up in front of a crowd of people to share your knowledge takes courage. Speakers need to know who will be attending, when they are due on stage, what they need to bring and how exactly they will setup on the day. Run through it all – from microphones and projectors to intermittence breaks and private conference rooms. Be approachable so they feel like they can contact you with any queries they may have. The more relaxed your speaker is, the better their performance will be.
Speakers can add a huge amount of value to your event. They have the ability to attract attendees (and sometimes even audiences who’ll follow along online) and do a brilliant job of setting the tone for the event.
Have you got an upcoming event? If the answer if yes and you’ve found this article helpful, feel free to let us know by sharing it with your friends and followers or tweeting your thoughts to @ShropsConf!