Speakers: Getting the Right People for your Event

Here’s how to assemble a team of speakers that will generate buzz and expand your event’s reach (and deliver some kick-ass content!)

Speakers, experts, teachers, coaches, panelists...whatever you call the people delivering your sessions, they make a big impact on your event’s success, long before their sessions even start.

The right people will help you attract attendees - and sponsors! - and they’re central to your attendee experience.

Your speaker strategy is a crucial component of a successful virtual event. In this post you’ll find everything you need to get the line-up of your dreams: how to find the right people and manage them successfully.

Find your Dream Team with Speaker Personas

Speakers do a LOT more than just speak at your event.

Recruiting speakers is hard work, and it’s important to get it right. It’s not just a question of who can deliver the content you need. You also want to consider:

→ who will create a buzz around your event -- boosting your event’s profile

→ who can bring in an engaged audience  -- making THEIR audience YOUR audience

→ who will generate attendee enthusiasm -- converting attendees into promoters

→ and, if your speakers fit together -- giving you a complete, balanced event

This is where your speaker persona comes in. In a nutshell, you’re asking yourself:

What kind of people does your event need?

Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say you’re planning to run an event on “How to avoid the most common mistakes as a first-time female author"

Speaker Persona #1 might be a prominent female author -- someone who has name recognition and would be a draw for your audience.

Speaker Persona #2 might be a female author who has just published her first book  - someone who has recent life-experience of the audience’s problem.

Speaker Persona #3 might be someone who works in the publishing industry, has experience with working with emerging women writers, and can offer a different perspective on what makes someone successful.

In this example, you can see that you might have multiple speakers in each persona group -- you could build out sessions to offer specific insights about different genres, for example.

Or, you might vary session formats: a panel discussion, a proposal writing masterclass, a keynote, or networking sessions for authors working in different genres.

With your speaker personas created, you’ll find it a simple process to sketch out the shape and subject of your sessions. And -- you’ll have a clear vision for what your audience will take away from each session.

When you’ve mapped out your speaker personas and you’re itching to get going with your recruitment - why not start with our Speaker Directory? With 1000+ skilled, passionate speakers, your perfect match may be only a few clicks away!

Managing Your Speakers

Illustration of woman standing infront of presentation

You’ve got your speaker persona down, and you’ve identified your ideal speakers. But reaching out to someone for the first time isn’t always easy. Not to worry -- we’ve prepared a checklist to help you master communications with speakers!

When You Invite a Speaker

When you ask someone to speak at your event, you’re not just asking them for their time - you’re also asking them to lend their name, their knowledge, and their audience to your event. Here are a couple of ways to get off to a great start:

  • give a short, detailed description of your event: tell them what your aims are, and who the event is for.
  • make it clear that you’ve done your research: tell them why you think they’re a great fit for your event. Be specific about why you’re asking them specifically, and why your audience will benefit from their perspective.
  • remember that they’re busy people! Clear, thoughtful communication makes it clear that you respect their time.
Once You’ve Booked Them: Clear Asks
  • Be clear about what you want. What exactly do you need them to do? How many sessions? On what topics? What kind of format? The more precise you can be, the easier it will be for them to deliver the kind of session you’re imagining.
  • Don’t use complicated language.  Avoid emailing things like “It would be great if you could update your details…”  Just ask politely, and be direct. “Please could you update your details?”  
  • If you need a speaker to do a series of things, be clear about that too. Use bullet points and lists rather than long paragraphs.
Managing Speakers: Best Practice

Make things as easy as possible for your speakers - this will keep things running smoothly for you, and will give your speakers the best experience of working with you. Here’s what we suggest:

  • Anticipate what your speakers need: this could be a coupon to give out, or if they have a podcast, you could suggest coming on as a guest to promote your event. Be open to their suggestions on how to best spread the word to their audience!
  • Don’t assume anything. Even if you’re offering a generous commission, this doesn’t mean your speakers will be posting about your event all day long - speakers have day jobs too! Have a direct conversation about mutual expectations.
  • Make tasks easy to make the most of their (and your!) limited bandwidth.
  • Provide copy for them to use for social media posts and emails.  Even if they don’t end up using it, you’re still providing an invaluable reference point for them to build on!
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