conference speakers - Event ExpertsHave you ever been to a conferenc or event where the speaker has come on to rapturous applause and then killed everyone off within the space of about five minutes? Or perhaps you’ve been listening to someone speak and trying not to fall asleep, or think about what to get for dinner on the way home?

If the answer to the above questions (and others like them) is yes then the chances are you aren’t listening to the right speaker. And if you’re the one booking speakers for events, you need to have a good long look at this.

There are some amazing, inspiring speakers out there, and speakers at conferences like TED and exposure on social media platforms has meant that the bar has been raised considerably in terms of expectation at events. People expect good speakers.

But we know you have a budget to work to, and the best speakers can cost a bomb. We know this, honestly. So how can you make sure you get the best speaker for your event?

Make sure that your speaker’s background matches the theme of your event. Are they the right age group? Do they have relevant experience? Can your audience relate to the content? If they’re not matched properly, you’ll lose your crowd. The right fit doesn’t need to cost the earth – you just need to choose wisely.

If you want a good speaker, often they’ll choose whether or not to speak depending on the strength, quality and reputation of the event. It doesn’t matter how much money you have to throw at this – simply paying for an awesome speaker will not ensure your event is a success – and equally may mean that you are turned down anyway.

I spoke to someone the other day who said they’d put a really cool event together with amazing speakers, but then only half a dozen people came – either from the native company or external – purely because there was no marketing in place. No email info, no invites, no publicity or social campaign. Don’t just expect to book a great name and expect people to beat a path to your door.

Why have you got a speaker? Is it just to educate and inform, or entertain, or inspire? Be really clear about what you want from this and you will realise better results. Brief your speaker before the event, well before, not five minutes before they go on. And engage with them to help them understand what the outcome should be. This is a real biggie.

We totally understand that sometimes the CEO is the speaker, or someone like that. And you can’t always influence how that goes. You don’t go to the boss and tell them what to say. But there are ways to improve this experience. Negotiate on the best time to speak for example. If your speaker wants to ‘say a few words’ at an evening event, definitely make sure guests have had a drinks reception and probably the first course before you schedule that, or nobody will really be listening. Equally, the end of the event isn’t great. Make sure your speaker knows the time limit, and if possible, work with them on the speech content, to brainstorm content and drive the best results.

As well as making sure your speaker is well-briefed and understands the end objective, make sure they’re comfortable and supported at the time of delivery. Does the mic work – is it the type of mic the speaker prefers? Are they going to pace up and down or stand at a lectern? Is there water to drink? How about the PA and visual feed – can everyone see and hear properly? There’s nothing worse than having the speaker need to say, “Can you hear me OK at the back?” for example – that’s just amateur hour stuff.

Can your delegates live Tweet about the event – and have you encouraged your speaker to engage too? Do followers and delegates know who the speaker is and why they’re relevant? Do they know where they can find out about what they do? Have you linked up your lines of communication through booking, delivery and post-event? Are you filming the talk so you can share afterward, or beam it live feed to those who can’t attend. Think about more than just the moment and think about how people can connect to the speaker, and the speech.

If you’re booking outside your knowledge group, check out your potential speaker. Have they got showreel, can you go and see them talk somewhere else? Don’t just rely on someone’s recommendation
Conference delegate management - Event Experts
OK so maybe contrary to #8, but… ask around. Have your potential attendees got someone in mind they’d really like to hear? Has someone you know been to an event and heard an amazing speaker? Maybe it’s something you could share on social media to get votes on. Ask your audience.

As with anyone you work with, you’ll get a way better result if you show respect and support. Briefing your speaker well is only the tip of the iceberg – have you made sure that they’re happy? Is their travel and accommodation up to scratch? Do they feel valued and well-supported? Happy speakers will deliver a better result. Not exactly rocket science.

Planning an event this year and thinking about a speaker? Hopefully the above is helpful. We have tons of really amazing speakers on our books, and plenty of good advice and guidance to offer. Can we help? Just ask the Event Experts

10 ways to get the best speakers for your events, and the best results
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