Selecting the right speaker for your conference event is a big deal. It can be the difference between an amazing experience for delegates or a, “huh yeah, it was okay” kind of interaction with your business and brand.

That’s why understanding how to approach potential speakers for your event is a must and can help ensure you nail down a top name that will have attendees flocking and leave them enthusing about your event, long after it has ended.

So, where to start? First things first create a wish list…

Creating A Wish List

Before you embark upon finding the right personality to speak at your conference, it is important to identify what you want them to achieve from speaking at your event. Do you want them to share expertise and insight, to motivate and inspire or to simply be a source of entertainment? Maybe you want all of the above. Defining what they need to deliver will help you to segment the type of character(s) you are looking for. Once this is narrowed down you can compile a list of suitable options to pursue. And just like that, you’re off on your speaker outreach journey…

Sharing Your Vision

Now you and your team have a firm idea of what kind of personality is required, you need to ensure that when you make your approach, you are clear and strong about the purpose and the value proposition of your event. Remember, it is unlikely that a great speaker is sitting by the phone or their laptop waiting for a request to come through. They are out doing what they do best and will want to ensure that the time that they commit to your event, will build upon their own reputation and credibility: this is where creating a briefing document comes in very handy.

Putting together a briefing doc will help you confidently put forward a summary of your event and build a case as to why you think the speaker you are addressing, is a good fit and aligns with your conference objectives and goals. You should also look to include information surrounding the:

  • Theme of your conference

  • Dates and Times

  • Location

  • The subject matter and topics you would most like them to draw upon. Suggest where there may be links between the speaker’s experiences/ knowledge and the overarching points you will be trying to promote throughout the conference.

  • Identify who your audience will be. This is an effective way to illustrate further connections between the speaker’s content and why it would suit the attending audience.

  • Duration – Be clear from the offset how long you would like the speaker to be in attendance for: do you need them for a presentation slot only, or do you want them for breakout sessions too, perhaps you would like them to also be part of a meet and greet style session with attendees?

  • Budget – it’s important to know what budget you have available for your speaker at the start of the outreach process, to manage expectations on who your event can afford.

Go Get ‘Em

Armed and ready with all the necessary details, it’s time to go out to the speaker(s) you want at your event. It’s worth pointing out, that this part of the process can be a bit of a waiting game. Like we mentioned before, the people you want are probably the people that other businesses want to speak at their events and conferences too, and therefore if they aren’t managed by an agency, it could take a little longer for them to come back to you. This is where patience and persistence are required.

What do you do if the speaker doesn’t come back to your request, even after some gentle follow ups? One word: contingency. Don’t put all your time and effort into just one speaker. Having a selection of speakers to reach out to is a strategic way of ensuring that you’ll secure a booking. If you don’t have other options, then you could be putting your conference at risk and losing out on the opportunity of hosting a fantastic guest speaker.

Even if a speaker comes back to you and says, ‘no’, don’t be disheartened; there’re lots of variables that may affect a speaker’s decision not to talk at your conference. It could even be as simple as your conference date clashing with a prior booking. Again, combat this eventuality and any others that may arise by having more than one speaker on your radar.

Managing Expectations

Yes! You’ve got their interest and the speaker you’ve approached wants to be part of your conference event – great news. What’s next?

At this point, you can go into more detail in relation to what your expectations of the speaker are. A call or a face-to-face meeting can be a proactive way to start building a relationship and conveying your ideas, whilst simultaneously understanding what the speaker’s needs are too.

This is also the time where, if it hasn’t already, the cost aspect must be discussed. On the basis of both parties’ expectations of one another, what is the final cost going to be? If the price is way out of budget, then this is likely to be the end of the road, unless a deal can be negotiated. Don’t bury your head in the sand, cover costs early on to avoid disappointment.

“Failing to Prepare is Preparing to…” Well, You Know how It Goes…

It is a saying that is annoyingly true though. Once your speaker is booked that’s not the process done and dusted. Oh no. There’s still plenty to do to ensure a seamless performance on conference day.

In the lead up to your conference clearly identify deadlines for any material or information that needs to be provided by the speaker or the speakers agency, such as:

  • Presentation deck

  • Biography

  • Headshot

  • Social handles

  • Company logo

  • Dietary requirements (if you’re supplying food)

  • Special AV requirements: Aim to get this information as early on as possible in order to work in requests with your event AV team.

  • Logistical arrangements: Establish when your speaker will be arriving and leaving, who will be accompanying them onsite, and ask what form of transport they be using; each of these details will influence your event schedule.

Scheduling a pre-event call or multiple calls is a good way to keep your speaker in the loop, and to give them the opportunity to get to know your business, brand, vision and values even better. It also gives both of you the chance to reconfirm details and to talk through any concerns or issues ahead of time so there are no last-minute panics. 

Do all you can to keep in regular contact with your speaker during the run up to your event. Give them a clear event agenda and provide a personal itinerary; include the essential information as well as other ‘nice to have’ details, which they may find useful and which may help to reduce any nervousness or anxiety on their part. Build trust and confidence wherever you can, as it will go a long way in forming a strong rapport.

Leverage The Relationship

The end of the conference does not necessarily signal the end of your business partnership with your speaker. There are various mutually beneficial ways in which you could utilise your relationship. But how?

  • Discuss the possibility of your speaker granting permission to circulate their presentation material, or another piece of exclusive content that would both benefit delegates and help to promote the speaker and build upon their own following.

  • Collect post-event feedback and share positive testimonials with your speaker.

  • Why not do some specific social analysis and present back on engagement levels.

A debrief call or meeting, with the above information weaved in, could help identify further opportunities for you to partner up again the future. Ultimately, once you’ve established a solid relationship, do all you can to leverage it.

Finding an amazing speaker is not necessarily the quickest or easiest of processes but, do it right and your event will reap the benefits.

As a specialist event management agency, In2Events are experienced in finding and securing speakers for your live event. Tell us what you want, let us consult on who we think would best suit the bill and with an agreed shortlist we will take care of the rest. Talk to us today on: 02392 320 581 or email: