Each speaker you select for your event can make a massive difference to its attractiveness to attendees. However, this doesn’t mean you have to spend thousands of pounds for a high profile celebrity.

Finding someone who really connects with your audience, be it a blogger, author, inspiring entrepreneur, community leader or local hero, can be all it takes to put bums on seats as people really want to hear what they have to say.

But if those people are not professional speakers registered with a speakers’ agency, how do you go about finding those with interesting stories to tell?

Follow these six steps to finding great speakers for your event…

Related: Why top speakers say yes (and no) to speaking at your event

  1. Ask your attendees who they’d most like to hear from

One of the easiest ways to find speakers that float your attendees’ boats is to ask them! Send a short survey to previous attendees (you can do this easily through Eventbrite’s integration with SurveyMonkey) asking them for suggestions.

Explain that you run the event for the benefit of the attendees and therefore you want them to play a role in shaping the content. Incentivise them with a free front row seat if their suggested speaker is selected – and maybe the chance for a meet and greet. However, do make it clear your budget won’t stretch to big names and that you’re looking for innovative suggestions.

You can also mine your social media followers for suggestions – there may be people they’re following on Twitter, for example, that they’d love to hear speak.

Related: 8 Ways to confirm great speakers for your next event

  1. Look for upcoming book releases

Authors with books pending publication or recently published will be eager for promotional opportunities so they make good candidates to approach. You also get a clear idea of their areas of expertise and topics they could potentially speak on from the theme and content of their new book.

A good way to research book releases is using Amazon’s filtered search. Here you can enter keywords and/or select a subject and then enter a publication date. If, for example, you select books published after February 2017, it will return a list of all relevant books available for pre-order.

Once you’ve found a book/author you like the look of, you can click on the author’s name to see their previously published works, while the publisher details are also displayed, helping you to track down a contact email.

Many authors have their own websites, so a quick Google search can offer a direct link to approach them by. If they don’t have a website, you can also search for them on Twitter or Facebook and reach out to them there.

Related: How to work with your speakers for increased event awareness

  1. Look for people active on professional forums

Those who position themselves as spokespeople for their industry are likely to be receptive to invitations to speak, so go online and listen to what they’re saying.

You can find them commenting on industry news, guest blogging, playing an active role in LinkedIn Groups, joining Twitter conversations and responding to questions relating to their field of expertise on sites like Quora and Reddit.

There are sites for specific industry sectors too, like Inbound, where users can pose questions to expert marketers or GrowthHackers, where real business people offer advice.

If you can identify engaged individuals, with relevant expertise, reach out and offer them another platform to speak about the things they’re passionate about.

Related: An easier way to manage your event speakers

  1. Research popular blogs

Blogs with an active and engaged audience demonstrate that the author has something to say that people are interested in listening to.

To find blogs on topics relevant to your industry/event use a reputable blog directory like EatonWeb. EatonWeb is human-edited and rates the blogs on its directory against three metrics – overall, strength, and momentum.

As well as being able to find blogs handily sorted into categories, you will also be able to judge their quality based on their ratings. To further scrutinise their performance, use SimilarWeb to see site traffic, bounce rate, visit duration, traffic sources and much more.

Another way to put great blogs on your radar is to check out those that have been nominated for or have won a UK Blog Award – Eventbrite’s own Brite Blog was named Event Blog of the Year in 2016, so the judges are clearly discerning!

Related: 10 Things the speaker wants you to keep in mind

  1. Use your LinkedIn contacts

LinkedIn can be a goldmine of professional information. Post an update to your network looking for recommendations for speakers, experts or bloggers and you might be surprised by the response – people love to help, especially if you’re asking for their opinion.

Even if your LinkedIn network of contacts isn’t that large, your post can reach an extended audience. That’s because when a user comments on, likes or shares your post, his or her contacts will be able to see that activity in their feeds.

You can also check your feed for contacts who have published articles to LinkedIn’s Pulse publishing platform (or shared those written by others). It’s a good way to discover people’s areas of expertise and the hot topics in your industry.

Related: 14 Creative ideas for thank you gifts for speakers

  1. Search YouTube

While top vloggers (video bloggers) can command thousands of pounds in appearance fees, there are countless others who haven’t reached superstar status, but still have an audience.

Search for any topics you’re keen to feature at your event, and see who’s talking about them. For example, searching ‘How to market a book’ returns a whole host of people who could be just right for speaking at your writers’ conference.

You can narrow your search by filtering by number of views, helping you identify the most popular content. You can contact the person who uploaded the video by clicking on their username, selecting ‘About’ and then ‘Send message’ in the right hand corner.

Related: Event email invitation template for speakers

Conclusion

You don’t need a big name keynote to attract interest in your event, just speakers who are credible and have something of value to share with your audience.

Sometimes lesser-known individuals, who are successful none-the-less, can actually prove more interesting and relatable. Use the above methods to seek them out and give them a platform.

Then once you’ve found the perfect speaker for your event, make sure you get them to say ‘yes’ with a perfectly crafted email invitation template, which we’ve put together for you here.

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