7 Strategies for Sourcing Spectacular Event Speakers

Team GTRTeam GTR November 22, 2022

As event managers, we know about the ebb and flow of event registration. We get those early birds who call dibs on the event before we begin marketing. We get the under-the-wire registrations of all those who register before a discount ends. And we have those itinerary hunters who wait to hear who is speaking before they secure their seats.

Securing the Best Speaker for Your Audience

The line-up of speakers can make or break your event. Miss the mark, and you’ll miss those seat sales. Nail the line-up, and you’ll be creating a waitlist of folks desperate to attend.

We’ve pulled together seven of our best tips to ensure the stands are full at your next conference or event.

1. Start the search for speakers early.

First, recognize that most in-demand speakers have busy schedules and may require extra lead time to secure a booking. This is especially important for your keynote speakers. Plus, these are the names that will help drive registrations. Second, the event agenda is imperative to the event’s value. It’s not something you want to leave to the last minute or scramble to fill.

2. Develop guidelines for speaker recruitment.

Speakers will need to know where the event will be held, their time slots, how much time they’ll have for Q&A, the focus of your event, and what subjects your audience is interested in. You may also consider their personal brand, achievements, and social followings. Last, consider whether you’ll permit salesmanship within the speeches or promotion of the speaker’s products or services.

3. Accept inbound applications…

Emerging personalities and subject matter experts should be encouraged to apply for a spot on your agenda. This will open doors to new perspectives, and sending out a request for proposals (RFPs) or abstracts is a great way to kick off event marketing. Whether you request their sample presentation title or ask to preview their entire slide deck, opening the doors to applications is a great way to fill your roster with up-and-comers.

4. AND go out to find the best speakers.

Look to speaker lists and databases for speakers in your industry and niche. Reach out to stakeholders, team members, and social media audiences to canvas for speakers they’d like to see on your agenda. Not only does this provide an avenue of engagement in marketing your event, but your audience will also feel invested in the agenda they help develop. Create goodwill by letting the speaker know who referred them, too.

5. Vet your speakers.

Don’t just take their word for it. Whether a speaker applied or was referred, ask to see videos of past speaking appearances as well as testimonials from other organizers. Great speakers should:

  • Have a specific field of focus that aligns with your event goals and be considered an expert in that field.

  • Be engaging and dynamic, and speak in a well-paced manner.

  • Be reliable with a respectable public image.

  • Be able to work within event boundaries.

  • Keep an audience engaged and sense when things are going sideways.

  • Be able to go off-script, if necessary, and steer the speech back if it goes off track.

6. Get engaged with the speaker’s audience.

Make it easy for your speaker to introduce you to their audience. Provide speakers with social media imagery and captions to help explain the event. You could even offer a referral discount to their audience to encourage participation and interaction. Engaging with their audience will also allow you to amplify your event message beyond your own social following.

7. Compensate your speakers.

There are a few reasons that speakers are willing to get up on stage for you. To share their message or educate the audience; to expand their own brand presence; as a revenue stream.

Compensation can be speaker fees, accommodations, a combination of both, or something else. Whether you’re looking for speakers who will contribute to the cause, or celebrities booking at $50K+, be transparent about what you can afford to provide.

Consider, also, sponsored sessions in which you open the stage to those companies who will pay you for an hour of your attendee’s time. The content standards for these sessions should align with the overall event focus and goals and should always provide value for your attendees.

To recap on our seven strategies for stellar speakers, start early, set guidelines, open the doors to both inbound and outbound RFPs, vet your speakers, engage with them, and be open and transparent in compensation. With these tactics in hand, not only will your event be outstanding, your amazing agenda will have attendees eager to secure their spot.

We’re Here to Help

We can help simplify your processes even more. If you’d like to learn more about event registration, attendance tracking, or how we can help with your next event, get in touch with us here.

Happy event planning, Team GTR™ 👋

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