Conference and event attendees will travel the world for the best speaker lineups, but this one simple fact doesn’t make securing keynote speakers any easier.
According to The State of Conferences and Corporate Events in 2018 Ebook, 89% of organizers said booking the best speakers for their events was their greatest challenge.
While it may be a challenge to book speakers, it’s one that you’re certainly up for.
For most, securing a speaker is an iterative process. It takes multiple cycles through a determined set of steps to eventually create the outcome you desire.
You may not have a set number of steps. You may feel like your hair’s on fire as you bounce from one call to the next. You may be searching for a way to successfully rally desired speakers around your event.
Know that you can do this, and we’re here to help!
Find and Secure Your Next Speaker
Step #1: Determine What You Need Before You Start Reaching Out
This can be as simple as knowing the theme, message, and audience of your conference or event. You may have a massive network of agencies, bureaus, and individuals that can get you a speaker, but you’re in search of the best speaker for your event.
Not sure what you need? Here are some questions you and/or your team can ask before starting your speaker search:
- What’s the theme of the conference, and the topic you’d like your eventual speaker to discuss?
- Where is your conference located, and how much time must be committed by the speaker to deliver?
- Why is your conference beneficial to the speaker you want to hire and the audience you are putting them in front of?
- What will be the range of compensation for the speaker?
- How will your conference or event add credibility to the speaker’s career?
- When are you speaker’s deliverables due?
- Who will be your audience, and what do they want, and how many will be viewing the presentation (whether online or in person)?
Step #2: Reach Out (And Remain Patient)
Remember that as you and your team start to reach out by phone or email to speakers, agencies, bureaus, or otherwise, speakers are busy professionals. They are building their own careers, and you are asking them to be a part of your conference.
The secret to remaining actively patient is polite persistence. Get a read on the speakers or agents that you will be communicating with and remain patient and persistent in pursuing them.
If you’re like most conference organizers, you have months (if not weeks) before you need a commitment; however, the industry can feel like it never sleeps. You may feel like you’re always behind. This is why it’s best to set a cadence with your communication before you start emailing or calling.
Create a reach-out plan for yourself and/or your team.
Here’s one that you may be able to build from:
- Week #1 — Email x3
- Week #2 — Email x2
- Week #3 — Email x1
- Week #4 — Call x2
- Week #5 — Call x1
Also keep in mind that “no” can sometimes turn into a “not yet” or “not now” later on in the relationship. Don’t take the “no” personal, and simply move on to the next prospect on your list.
You’d be surprised how being polite and persistent gets you speakers after they’ve said no to your initial invite.
Step #3: Discuss Commitment and Compensation
If you remember from Step #1, you determined the compensation and commitment prior to reaching out to your network and potential speakers.
Once they accept to communicate with you, you will need to discuss the commitment expected from the speaker and the compensation they will receive — monetary and reputation — by speaking at your event.
While some organizers dance around this conversation, it’s best to be candid and up front about what you expect and what you’re willing to pay for it.
Speakers are busy professionals who have decided to discuss a potential partnership with you. The last thing you want to do is waste their time.
What’s more, you may have this conversation with an agency or bureau. Keep in mind what you need, when you need it, and how much you have allotted to pay, even when discussing these things with an agent or representative of the speaker you’re pursuing.
Step #4: Discuss Speaker’s Needs
Ask your potential speaker (or their agent) what they need to successfully deliver their presentation. This is a question that’s often swept under the rug because the “hard” part of the conversation is over (time and money).
Discover what your speaker needs. Do they need a specific type of technology? Are they in need of specific accommodations? What’s their favorite lunch/dinner food? Look for ways to make their experience with you as easy and empowering as possible.
See if you can find a way to connect with them and save that information for later. For example, maybe you hear the speaker mention that they journal daily. This is a key piece of information, because you can follow up with them after the conference with a related thank-you gift.
The better you prepare for them, the better they will perform for you.
Step #5: Determine and Set Deadlines for Your Speaker’s Deliverables
At this point, you’ve gotten a commitment from your speaker(s). You have your keynote and any other speakers booked for the event. Congratulations!
Next, you want to communicate with your speakers or their representatives on when you need their deliverables. For most, deliverables are already packaged and ready to send. It’s best to communicate what you need instead of hoping that your speakers or their reps send what you need.
Here are some general deliverables you will want from your speakers:
- Topic title and description of their speech
- Headshot and bio
- Speech outline
- Presentation deck or assets
- List of technology they need
- Final walkthrough of event
While speakers are great at what they do, they are human. They prefer to have a plan, and they want to feel that you’re taking care of them.
Having a schedule of deadlines helps you host a successful conference, and it sets up your speakers for success at your conference.
Step #6: Appreciate Your Speakers
Before your current conference is over, you’re probably already working to plan the next one. Don’t let this distract you from the opportunities right in front of you.
Follow up with your speakers after your event and let them know that you appreciate them. This simple technique can score you favor for the future when you need a speaker for another event.
Remember back to your conversation with your speaker on what they needed to perform well. In that conversation, you may find a way to connect with them after the conference with a gift of some kind.
As mentioned above, a high-quality journal or pen may be a great way to say thank you to your speakers.
Here are some other post-conference gift ideas:
- Leather-bound journal or notebook
- Custom art caricature of the speaker
- Gift basket
- Locally baked goods
As you organize each conference, search for ways to make the speaker discovery process about the speakers. This will only bolster your reputation as a great organizer.
Now that you’re aware of the 6 easy steps to secure the best keynote speaker for your conference, it’s time you get started.
Here are the steps one more time for you:
- Step #1: Determine What You Need Before You Start Reaching Out
- Step #2: Reach Out (And Remain Patient)
- Step #3: Discuss Commitment and Compensation
- Step #4: Discuss Speaker’s Needs
- Step #5: Determine and Set Deadlines for Your Speaker’s Deliverables
- Step #6: Appreciate Your Speakers
Ready to book your next speaker? Feel free to reach out to Platinum to discuss your event and the type of speaker you need. With a roster of the best keynote speakers in their given industries, Platinum can help you find what you’re looking for. Book today!