When you offer the right lineup of business conference speakers, people will travel far and wide to attend your event. Finding and securing premium speakers enhances your reputation as an event organiser, and lends credibility to your conference. That said, knowing where to find a speaker for an event, and getting them involved, isn’t always easy.
Securing speakers takes time and patience. You need to build a relationship with candidates and persuade them to commit. Luckily, there are steps you and your team can follow to lay the groundwork for successful outreach and make sure you get the results you want.
Step 1: Solidify your ask before reaching out to candidates
So, how do you find a good speaker for an event? Before you and your team jump straight in, establish your value proposition. Clarifying what your conference will deliver and the experiences it offers attendees helps potential speakers recognise the benefits of their involvement. Then you can start drawing up your conference speaker checklist.
Ask yourself these questions before contacting speakers
- Why should someone speak at your conference? For instance, is this the perfect opportunity for your speaker to share ideas with their peers, or will they have access to a hard-to-reach group such as senior decision-makers?
- What do speakers stand to gain from taking time out of their busy schedules and lending credibility to your event? Benefits could include gaining more recognition in their field or progressing their career. You need to demonstrate how this is a win-win situation.
Provide speakers for your business event with all the facts
- What are the themes of the conference and the topics you would like your candidate to cover?
- Where is your conference, and what is the time commitment involved?
- Why is this opportunity beneficial to both the speaker and the audience? Be sure to spell out the connection
- – it’s shocking how many requests for speakers only talk about the event itself.
- Who will be in the room and will the conference be live-streamed online? As part of your event speaker checklist, be clear about the total number of potential listeners and what type of audience you are expecting.
Step 2: Be patient when reaching out to business conference speakers
As you and your team send emails and make phone calls, remember that many qualified speakers for business events are also busy professionals. Polite persistence is the name of the game. Use your judgement to determine your tone and decide how many emails need to be sent before it’s time to move on. If you’re not getting a response from one candidate after the second or third weekly email, it makes sense to start reaching out to other guest speakers who are potentially more interested.
Choosing an event speaker involves flexibility. It’s realistic to expect that your first choice speaker may not be available, so have a list of other candidates. Be honest with speakers about who else you’ve approached, and make sure no one feels second best. Where big names sometimes don’t live up to expectations, you may find that your next best choice pulls out all the stops to make an impact.
Step 3: Discuss commitment and compensation
Once a speaker has responded to the invitation, be clear about expectations, and make sure they can deliver all your requirements. What do you expect from the speaker and what do they expect from you? Knowing why they are saying yes to speaking at your event helps you understand their motivations.
Confirm the overall cost of the speaker from the outset, and remember that speaker costs often do not include expenses or accommodation. Some speakers also have specific requirements – like AV equipment – additional to their fee. Including a section on payments in your guest speaker checklist means all expenses are accounted for.
Choose the best way to conduct negotiations. If you’re not getting clarity via email, try phoning or arranging a Zoom call or face-to-face meeting. Ensuring everyone is on the same page at the negotiation stage saves conflict later.
Step 4: Set deadlines for your event speaker’s deliverables
Once they’re on board, your conference speaker will need to provide some materials ahead of time. Let them know what’s expected of them and when. Here’s an example of a speaker event planning checklist, which your team should tailor to your event’s needs:
- Topic title and description delivered by TBD deadline
- Bio and headshot submitted by TBD deadline
- Content outline reviewed by TBD deadline
- Presentation deck and script finalised by TBD deadline
- Final walkthrough before the conference by TBD deadline
Step 5: Follow up with your conference guest speaker after the event
Don’t neglect speakers after your conference has ended. Your speakers put work into preparing for your event. Make sure they know you appreciate it. After all, if they had a good experience themselves and feel appreciated, they’re more likely to tell colleagues, fans, and other influencers how much they loved your event.
A handwritten thank-you note is a great starting point. But there are more thoughtful and creative ways to say “thank you.” Use these ideas for inspiration:
- Beautiful notebooks: Go old school with a high-quality leather or suede-covered notebook, perfect for jotting down notes and witticisms for next time.
- Custom caricature: Invite a caricaturist to your event to sketch the masses, and have the artist draw your speakers, too. Once your event is over, you can give them the artwork to take home for a truly original gift.
- Goodies for everyone at home: Often, the colleagues a speaker leaves behind have to pick up the slack while they are gone. Acknowledge their role with a special order of local baked goods, doughnuts, or a basket of fresh fruit.
Learn more about planning an event with speakers
Recruiting a high-class lineup of speakers for business events gives you a competitive advantage. Using the steps outlined, you and your team can build a solid reputation with potential speakers – which will encourage them to advocate for your conference. Use our in-depth corporate event planning checklist and get the best results for your conference.