A guide to working with event speakers

Most people attend events for one of two reasons: the speakers & the networking. Your guest speakers are often the most memorable aspect of your event, so it’s really important to secure great speakers that fit with your event and then do your utmost to take care of them every step of the way.

Attracting the right event speakers to your event is not easy, especially if you don’t have a huge budget. But it can be done; it takes time, planning, preparation and patience!

Securing great speakers – do your research

Your speakers can make or break your event, so make sure you do everything within your power to secure good ones. Before you start researching speakers, make a list of your speaker “nice to haves” and “need to haves” in priority order. Once you’ve got your criteria in place for the ideal speaker you can start researching. Use online channels such as Google, Slideshare, Twitter and Linkedin to find relevant industry experts who fit the bill. It’s a good idea to target people with strong social media followings.

Securing great speakers – To pay or not to pay?

Excellent speakers usually expect to be paid; especially if you are set to make money from your event by charging event delegates. Try to secure a budget which will allow you to pay your speakers a reasonable fee; or at least ensure you are able to cover their expenses such as travel, food and accommodation.

Having said that, great speaking opportunities can be really important to speakers. It’s a two way street, and if you’ve done your research well enough and carefully set out your ask or proposition, you might just be able to secure yourself a bargain.

Working with your speakers – It’s all in the brief

Once you’ve secured a great speaker for your next event, you’ll need to brief them thoroughly. Your speaker will at the very least require a really comprehensive written brief which gives them a clear picture of the topic and a keen insight into the audience and their needs and expectations.

A great event manager will work together with each of their speakers individually in order to get a good understanding of them and their needs, while helping them to develop great insight into yours.

It’s a question of working with speakers as individuals. But don’t overdo it! Be very wary of checking slides to ensure they are on-brief and micro-managing your speakers. If your research was carried out effectively at the start, your proposition carefully laid out and your briefing comprehensive, you should be able to leave your speaker get on and do the rest!