Organizing a conference involves a lot of work and a lot of different areas, but the key of the conference is the content. Selecting a speaker and approaching them is one of the most important tasks of event organizers.
What process should I follow to get speakers to my conference?
When it arrives the time to invite speakers to your conference, there are various methods we can use. The most popular ones and also the most effectives one are the phone calls and the email invitations.
If you are not sure if they are the perfect speakers for your conference then do it more informal. Give them a call saying you think their work is amazing and you would like to consider the idea of having them as a speakers in your conference. Wait and take it from there.
We should be following these phases in order to keep everything under control:
- First round: Send it to these speakers that you really want to be in your conference. Send it to the top 10 people on this fabulous list that you have created.
- Wait for replies: Don’t be impatient and give them time to reply. Preview this time on your schedule before the conference as well. Follow up on them with a very polite communication if you need so. 2 weeks should be enough time for them to reply.
- Go for the next round: Check which speakers have confirmed and be aware of how many left do you have. Take your list again and send a second round of invitations.
I also have to highlight what to do if a speaker says no to our conference. First thing: don’t panic! There would be professionals that don’t see the benefit of participating in a conference or they just don’t have time to do it. Even this, be nice with them. Show yourself thankful for considering the opportunity and, if appropriate, ask them if they know anyone else that could be a good speaker instead.
My speakers have confirmed, what should I do now?
Now it’s time to work harder! It’s time to create the content for every session. Of course, your speaker is the expert on the subject but don’t forget you have to guide them and make sure the message of the presentation is the appropriate for the audience.
Set a call with them, explain them all the details about the conference topic and discuss with them the line of the presentation. The final output of the conversation should be:
- Understanding what the conference is about and what’s the speaker role
- Knowing who they are talking to, be aware of which are attendees profiles
- Setting the length and the timing of the talk
- Making clear what are you expecting from them, it’s not only about showing up in the conference, it involves a lot of work before. Let them know that you are expecting an outline or script of the presentation and some rehearses of their talk.
- Giving them a booklet to ensure they have all the information about the event. You can see an example of a conference organized by the University of Cambridge last year.
The day of the conference
Stay in communication, support them and thank them for their hard work. It’s essential to keep your speakers updated on the schedule. I would recommend to create a schedule just for the speakers, so they won’t panic and will know where to be at every moment. Also, get their phone number and ask them to answer your call immediately in case of any unexpected issue.
If the venue of the conference allows you, try to get a room for speakers. It’s ideal to have a private room for them to feel relaxed and get ready for the presentation. Set the microphone on the speaker and double check that works fine and you won’t have any technical issues.
At the end of the conference, thank all of the speakers and give them a small gift (if the budget allows you to). Also, the next work day, send them a thank you letter for working that hard with you.
Here is what I think it’s important to keep in mind when selecting speakers, do you think I missed any detail?