You’re organizing an event, and it’s no small feat.
There are a lot of responsibilities to juggle to make sure your event goes off without a hitch.
You have to arrange for a conference space, manage corporate sponsor relationships, sell enough tickets, and so much more.
As one of the line items on your mile-long todo list, you also need to find speakers to fit the theme and message of your event. One of the most important important pieces to hosting a successful event is to find speakers that resonate with your audience.
You approach booking your keynote speaker and other speakers with a similar intensity to the rest of your event.
You get it done, and you’ve secured the perfect lineup.
But something you may not realize is that booking your speakers is only step one in your relationship with them.
They are professional, but they are also people, too.
Here are 11 things that keynote speakers want you to know
#1. Book Your Event for the Audience
Speakers are professionals just like you. They have a unique set of skills that are being used to inspire, motivate, and engage an audience. The audience must be invested in the theme, message, or speaker to actually make an impact in their lives.
Ask yourself: “would my audience like to hear this speaker’s story?”
Most speakers want to make an impact on their audience, and they sincerely appreciate it when you do the legwork to give them an audience that’s interested in what the speaker has to say.
Booking a speaker based on celebrity or popularity may draw a crowd, but it’s like feeding cheese to an aardvark. You want the speaker to directly relate to the pain points, struggles, and obstacles your audience is experiencing right now.
Find a keynote speaker that can deliver on your theme and event message, and you’ll satisfy your audience.
#2. Communicate With Your Speakers
Once you have a full lineup of speakers, it’s time to get them integrated into your event.
A common misconception that event planners have is that once the contracts are signed and the speakers paid, they can move on to other event related responsibilities.
In fact, speakers appreciate some heads up on the event, how it’s going to be run, when they should expect to speak, who they will be speaking too. This information can all be packaged in a handbook for your speakers. Hand one of these out and help your speakers be a part of your conference and engage the audience.
#3. Check in Consistently
You don’t need to have each of your speakers on speed dial (is that even a thing still?), but you ought to check in with them consistently, before, during, and shortly after the event.
Your speakers are most likely very busy, they’re probably speaking at other events prior and post yours, and they may be managing an advanced career. It’s not their job to know the details of your event. It is your job to help keep them informed so that they can deliver their best speech for your audience.
Reach out to your speakers a couple months in advance of your event and ask if you can help them with anything related to lodging or travel. Be a resource to them. Make their interaction with you and your event one of a kind.
A couple weeks before your event, let your speakers know that you’re still here for them if they need you. Ask about their speech. See if you can get some soundbites from them to send out to your attendees. Check to make sure that your speakers have a distinct angle that addresses the theme and message of your event so that there is little to no overlap between speeches.
Finally, a week out from the event, confirm all travel arrangements and lodging with your speakers and let them know that you are available to assist them.
#4. Minimize Micromanagement
On the opposing side of point number three, you do not want to micromanage the content of your speakers’ material.
It can be easy to slide into management mode with your speakers, but you want them to feel the freedom and ability to deliver their message as they see most effective — as long as the message aligns with your event theme and message.
Give your speakers the freedom to deliver, and offer your assistance where needed.
#5. Set Clear Expectations
It can be easy as the event approaches to assume everyone understands what’s going on.
It can be even easier to assume that since the speakers you’ve hired have done this before that they can do it again on their own. There’s nothing further from the truth.
Whatever the circumstance, giving your speakers a heads up as needed will help them perform better for your audience.
You are less likely to become overwhelmed with your event speakers if you consistently communicate with them.
Set clear expectations of what you need from the speakers and then follow through on that communication.
#6. Lodge Your Speaker Near the Venue
You want to make it so easy for your speakers to be a part of the event that they don’t even have to think about it.
A relaxed speaker is a great speaker.
When you don’t have to worry about your speakers getting from the hotel, across town, through traffic, and to your event, you and the speakers can maintain nearly all your sanity.
#7. Build Time for Transition in the Schedule
One of the hardest things to remember is that it takes time for people to move around.
As a conference organizer or event planner, you’re on the clock from the moment you start allowing guests into the event until 12 hours after the event is over.
Reduce your own stress and your speakers’ stress levels.
Build transition time into the schedule so that everyone can find the rhythm of the event.
#8. Keep Tech Support on Staff
Most speakers can handle the occasional tech hiccup, but when the entire conference is riding on this one USB stick to work in the computer provided, things can get pretty intense.
A simple solution is to have tech support on staff and to assist your speakers as they need it.
Make sure you have internet connection, USB availability, or any other tech needed by your speakers to do their job well.
It’s much more reassuring that you can handle getting some new tech a few hours before the presentation than being on a 60-second countdown clock.
#9. Share Your Speakers on Social Media
Much of event and conference chatter happens digitally while the event is taking place. Attendees will tweet, post, and DM while they’re experiencing what you’ve planned for them.
Some organizers resist this and try to implement a no phone policy, but it’s more beneficial to encourage this type of behavior.
You can take some time and get a few hashtags from each speaker surrounding their topic or message that make sense to share with the audience.
If they aren’t sure which they should use, give them two or three. In some cases, speakers will work these hashtags directly into their speeches, which gives your audience a little boost of engagement.
Then, encourage the audience to use these hashtags to discuss what they’re hearing and what they think. This type of digital engagement is how events or conferences get national or even global attention.
#10. Manage Q & A Sessions Effectively
Most speakers enjoy helping people. The primary reason for many keynote speakers is to engage, inspire, motivate, and impact people at scale. Speaking allows them to do just that.
However, we’re all human, and we all know that Q and A sessions can get lengthy.
When your keynote speaker is the last on the roster to present, make sure and set the expectation that Q and A will be a set time duration. In some instances, having a visible countdown timer for the audience can help keep things under control.
What you’ll find is that the timer will go off, but the speaker will typically answer one or two more questions. This positions your speaker in a positive light, an effort to try and help a little bit more before having to leave the stage.
Positioning your speakers in a positive light is just as important as them delivering a great speech.
#11. Get Feedback
You’ve successfully planned, organized, managed, and completed your event. Now what?
Before you run off and start planning your next event, it’s time you do a little follow up and get feedback from your speakers. Give your speakers a call and have a candid conversation about what you thought regarding their speech their performance. Ask them for feedback on your ability to plan, integrate, and pull off your event.
For most event planners, they quickly move onto the next event. However, those who take the time to reach out, get feedback, give feedback, and connect with speakers build a deeper relationship that can be called upon for later events.
- Book Your Event for the Audience
- Communicate With Your Speakers
- Check in Consistently
- Minimize Micromanagement
- Set Clear Expectations
- Lodge Your Speaker Near the Venue
- Build Time for Transition in the Schedule
- Keep Tech Support on Staff
- Share Your Speakers on Social Media
- Manage Q & As Effectively
- Get Feedback