The speakers you book for your conference can either make or break your event. If well-known and credible, your speaker(s) can attract a bigger audience than you had ever imagined, instantly adding integrity to your lineup. Your speaker’s influence can help push on-the-fence attendees to register, helping boost your registration.
Ok, great, we get it — good speakers are vital to the success of your event. But how do I book an amazing speaker? Follow these five steps and we think you’ll be well on your way to sourcing a top notch prospective speaker for your next event.
1. Make a List
Jot down exactly what you’re looking for in a speaker. Obviously you’ll want someone who is charismatic and has great delivery, but some other things to think about are if they regularly do speaking engagements, if they have a large following on social media, etc. Be sure to note your must-haves and what you’re willing to be flexible on. If you find a potential speaker who doesn’t tick all of your ‘must-have’ boxes, maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
2. Research, and Make (Another) List
Once you’ve listed out all of your dream speaker characteristics and qualities, it’s time to do some research. Some of our favourite places to start are Google, SlideShare, Twitter and LinkedIn. Look for people who have spoken previously about your industry/topic — count views and comments from previous presentations on Slideshare, look for people with a strong presence on social media (you can use tools like FollowerWonk and SocialBro to search for specific topics, job titles and how many followers someone has). By making a second list of your ‘dream’ speakers, you’ll have a hit list of people you can start to target.
3. Stalk (in a non-creepy way of course)(Don’t be this guy.)
Before even thinking about approaching your list of dream speakers, do a quick search to see if they have any other speaking engagements or tours around the time of your event. If you see that Dream Speaker #1 is going to be in London promoting their book the Monday before your event, and they don’t have another engagement booked until Friday, perhaps they’d be more likely to make another ‘stop’ at your conference on Wednesday because they’re in the area and won’t have to worry about booking travel, etc. Additionally, if you see that Dream Speaker #1 is on a tour of the West Coast in the US during the time of your event, and your event is in London..it’s probably a good idea to remove them from your hit list.
4. Solidify Your Ask
Before reaching out to your dream speakers, make sure your ask & the value proposition are spelled out.
What is the topic of the conference and the topic you’d like them to speak about?
Where is your conference and what is the time commitment involved?
Why is this a great fit for both the speaker AND the audience? Be sure really spell this out and not just state that it’s a ‘great fit’ — you’d be surprised to see how many speaker requests only talk about the event itself.
Who will be in the room? (If it is a hybrid event, be sure to mention the total number of people who could be listening) What type of audience are you expecting?
What else… Will this be a paid engagement? Will you be covering airfare and hotel accommodations? Will there be media/press coverage?
Once you’ve sorted out your ask, you’re finally ready to reach out to your list of dream speakers.
Now you’re ready to reach out! If you’re not having luck reaching out on your own — don’t give up, you have a few options to consider.
A. Ask Your Community: You’d be surprised at how powerful your personal network is! Sometimes a simple ask can net some incredible results. Also, check LinkedIn to see if anyone in your network is connected to someone on your Dream List.
B. Consult a Speakers Bureau: Sometimes, you have to call in the big dogs. Speaker Bureaus specialize in helping people just like you book their dream speakers at events, meetings and conferences. These bureaus have existing relationships with tons of speakers and can often be very successful in reaching speakers that might be on your list. Please note that often times there is a fee involved when using an organization like this, but if they can help you land the speaker of your dreams, can you really put a price on that!?
By following these five steps, we’re positive that you’ll be able to source the best speaker(s) for your next conference which will help you reach more attendees and deliver a high quality, successful event! Tune in tomorrow when we discuss best practices on working with your speakers for increased event awareness.
As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts or questions in the comments below!