An important part of a conference organizer’s job responsibilities is hiring or recommending speakers for the events they manage. Whether it’s a keynote address, workshop, breakout session or other forum, selecting speakers who match best with the profile and needs of the audience is a critical task. Here are some helpful tips.
- Before putting out a call for speakers, conference planners should have a full understanding of the desired outcomes and communicate them clearly to prospective speakers.
- Think twice about inviting nonprofessional speakers to participate in your conference. “You get what you pay for” is very apropos when it comes to speakers. Trying to save money by bringing in subject experts for free can backfire. Just because they know their stuff doesn’t mean they can convey the message in an impactful, compelling way, supported by impressive visuals.
Many amateur speakers will put an audience to sleep with a talk replete with filler words delivered in a monotone, with boring slides that are hard to read and a poorly designed speech that rambles on and on without a clear storyline.
- Check references. There is no better way to find out whether a speaker is the right fit for your group than by asking peers who have booked that speaker within the past year. Like many things, what’s advertised on the speaker’s website isn’t always what you get. Hearing from someone who has hired that speaker recently will allow you to determine whether the speaker is a good match for your organization.
- Be sure to give the speaker as much background information on your organization, its purpose, and the goals of the session as possible. That way, the speaker can customize his or her content accordingly, resulting in a much more engaging and relevant presentation.
- Schedule at least one conference call with the speaker before the event to review all details and to be sure both the message and logistics are accurate.
Read more about speakers in Michael J. Lyons’ story, “Keynote Care and Maintenance: Top Presenters Describe How Planners Can Help Speakers Deliver for Attendees,” in the July issue of Smart Meetings, which can be accessed here.