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Planning the Speaker Experience

By Freeman®

AT A GLANCE

  • Create reasonable deadlines
  • Communicate clearly with speakers
  • Give guidelines for speakers to create great presentations

After combing through a stack of potential thought leaders to wow the audience at your big event, you’ve landed on your speaker lineup. The hardest part is over, right?

Not quite.

Now that the selection process is behind you, the next step is wrangling the speakers themselves and the content they are presenting, while ensuring their sessions meet event and audience objectives… all against a hard deadline. Luckily, most event planners are on the same page with this tricky task. Let’s take a look at some of the secrets of managing a successful relationship between planner and speaker.

The dreaded deadline

The first step to fostering a great relationship with your speakers is to ease your deadline for paper submissions. With so many event details already on your plate, it’s easy to fall into a bridezilla trap of micromanaging before it’s necessary.

If you know that the conference is going to be in January, don’t ask for presentations in July. In a technology-driven world, things are constantly changing; being too eager with your deadline not only closes doors for speakers that might be a better fit, but closes off topics that could be more interesting and relevant.

That said, in relaxing with the call deadline, there’s a time and a place to set down firmer parameters. When setting up meetings with speakers, request presentations well beforehand. You can always work in last-minute changes closer to the date, but granting some structure will be helpful for both you and them.

Communication is key, and being aware of your speaker’s needs is just the tip of the iceberg. Setting up stable outlines and executing them is where the stronger connection is formed.

Constant contact

Periodic reminder emails and posts will guarantee a better system of self-checks for your speakers. However, keep in mind that consistency is key; you don’t want to flash a bunch of emails at your speakers right before the conference.

Instead, have a consistent presence in their inbox spread out over months. It’s okay to make the increments shorter near the deadline, but in the grand scheme of things, the patient, personal reminder wins out.

If your speakers need a little extra push, don’t be afraid to refresh them on your speaker policy. If you have a speaker policy that sets deadlines a certain way, don’t go soft. Your speakers will respect the responsibility more when they are able to understand the parameters. A professional reputation is contingent with solid work ethic, and following through with persistent adherence to policy guidelines reflects a seasoned and reliable presenter.

People pleasing presentations

As part of your communication process, make sure your speakers understand your audience. Share what you know about their challenges, opportunities, needs, and wants. Help them bake those messages into their presentations to ensure a win-win-win: attendees get what they want, speakers deliver meaningful content, and your event is a success. As an added bonus, the best presenters will appreciate this extra TLC and will be eager to present again at future events.

Provide a clean, easy template design for presenters to use for their slides. Encourage good design: less is more when it comes to text on the slide, and lead with visuals. Offer second screen technology to engage audiences in real time with polling, Q&A, and more. This also allows both you and speakers access to slide-by-slide engagement metrics. If you have an international audience, consider tapping into translation services to ensure everyone gets your messages loud and clear.

In the end, this isn’t really a secret. Like any great relationship, the one you have with your speakers should be a two-way street with a foundation of open, honest communication and respect. With this in mind, you will be well on your way to a successful event!

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