In the world of event planning, finding the right speakers to bring your event to life is a creative endeavor that holds the power to shape its success. This blog article serves as a practical compass, guiding you through the process of identifying, inviting, and collaborating with speakers, offering an indispensable toolkit for curating remarkable events through impactful speaker engagement.
Find your Speakers
Once you have your event topic formulated, it’s time to find the speakers who will bring it to life. While this can often feel like a tall order, it’s one of the most creative parts of the event prep process. Your role is a bit like being a conductor, ensuring a balance of diverse perspectives and backgrounds. If you're feeling unsure of where to start, here are some approaches I’ve used in the past.
Source from your community
Chances are your community is already chock-full of people with rich backgrounds and experiences. Tools like Talkbase allow you to segment members so it’s easy to find the perfect community member for your event. When onboarding new members, I often ask the ways they want to get more involved and include a speaker option. Talkbase allows you to tag people with these distinctions so you always have a go-to list on hand. You can also look to other communities like Badassery that specifically connect you with event speakers.
Sleuth the internet… smartly
Utilize the power of LinkedIn. Search by industry and job title or search keywords to see who is actively posting about your topic. I also suggest searching upcoming book releases. Those authors are often looking for creative ways to get exposure!
Know your ask
Now that you know who you want to invite, it’s important to have your request clearly articulated. Things to consider outlining upfront:
- Decide if you’ll be offering a speaker fee/honorarium
- Time commitment (pre, post and during the event)
- If it will be recorded and shared afterwards
- Any accessibility support you can offer
Invite your speakers
You’re now ready to make your ask! This might take the form of a casual DM over social media or a more formal email invitation. A tool like Talkbase allows you to send invitations directly through the platform, so you can collect bios and headshots that will pull automatically in the event registration feature.
If your speakers will be showing a presentation or have tech requirements, make the ask for materials at this time (and test them prior!).
Create a source of truth for your speakers
As soon as a speaker confirms, I add them to a Google scheduler so they have the date and time slot held in their calendar. I include a 15-minute buffer prior for a quick tech check and regroup to confirm things like name pronunciations, etc. I also include any key details in the scheduler like the Zoom link and a basic agenda.
I then work on a document I call the speaker Source of Truth, one of my most important steps. In it, I clearly outline key logistical details, an agenda, and a list of potential guiding questions that the moderator might use as a jumping-off point. The key is to make things as clear and straightforward as possible for your speakers! Here’s an example from the most recent event I ran on August 15.
I make the Google Doc editable by all and encourage the speakers to collaboratively add any notes to help shape the conversation. Depending on the event, sometimes I additionally organize a pre-conversation with all the speakers to align on focus and conversation questions. It can be tricky though to align schedules and this approach sometimes takes away from the freshness of the conversation on the actual day.
A week out, I connect all the speakers via email and include the Source of Truth document. In this email, I additionally encourage the speakers to share about the event with their networks!
Keep the relationships going
Directly after the event, I send a thank you email to all the speakers and confirm any necessary follow up details. Try to personalize these emails as much as possible by including a positive quote from an attendee or a particular point the speaker made that really resonated with you. I also include an event recording in the follow up, so they can include it on their personal website, LinkedIn, etc. I end by calling out any future areas of collaboration!
Your Speaker Planning Checklist
- Find your speakers
- Craft your speaker ask
- Send your invitations
- Add your speakers to a scheduler
- Build a Source of Truth speaker doc
- Communicate clearly with your speakers prior
- Send a thank you!
August 21, 2023
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