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Step 1: Make A List
Every good strategy starts with a list! First, you’ll want to start with a list of topics you’ll be covering at your conference. You don’t have to formulate an ‘angle’ as such as this point, but brainstorm the topics you’d like a speaker to talk about. When it comes to choosing the right speakers for your conference, you want to ensure they are relevant to your audience and subject and they are influential (or an authority) in their field.
This list will support you in choosing the most appropriate people to approach about speaking at your event. It’s entirely possible that you may have someone in mind already, however you always want to have a back up plan just in case they’re not available.
Step 2: Do Your Research
If you don’t have anyone specific in mind, there are a number of avenues you can explore to find speakers. The first of these is the National Speakers Association. This body is a collective of over 3,000 professional speakers who can be hired to speak at events like yours.
Another method of finding speakers is through a call for speaker proposals or abstracts. By putting out a call for speaker proposals, you can create a pool of speakers who are interested in attending your event. This can save you a lot of time, however doing this successfully requires a robust and well thought out plan to get your call in front of the right people.
You can also turn to the power of social media to source your speakers. Industry leaders are more often than not quite active on social media platforms (especially Twitter and LinkedIn), presenting you with an opportunity to engage with them and approach them about your event. This is a particularly good idea if you are interested in approaching someone who is not a professional event speaker. This, however, is a long game and involves building a relationship with the person through engaging with their posts and content and participating in online discussions.
Finally, if you don’t feel comfortable engaging with a person in this way, or don’t have the contacts to help make an introduction, you can utilise the services of an event planner. At KDM Events, we have forged strong relationships with event speakers and can quickly get in touch with them about your event, taking all the leg work out of finding and securing speakers.
Step 3: Make Your Pitch
When you have a list of speakers you would like to attend your conference, it’s time to make your pitch. If you aren’t using a middleman to handle this part of the process for you, then you’ll need to approach them and make your pitch.
Social media is a great way to strike up a conversation and build relationships. It’s advisable not to go straight in with your pitch but rather engage with the person first before suggesting that collaborating at your event could be a good idea. Further to this, if possible, try and pitch your event to them either over the phone or face to face – not by email or direct message. This will give you the best chance to communicate your passion and enthusiasm.
A great angle to take when pitching your event to a potential speaker is to position it an opportunity for them. Clearly explain to them how speaking at your event will benefit them. For example, you may be inviting a big client or industry player that you can introduce them to or speaking at your event will build their portfolio for other conferences. Don’t forget to mention the perks of attending too, such as free meals, accommodation and networking opportunities.
Step 4: Share All Relevant Information
Once you have pitched your event to a speaker and they are interested, or the right speaker has been found through a third party, you must ensure you provide them with all the relevant information. A great way to do this is by creating a handbook or pack that can be handed out to all speakers.
It’s important to ensure that all the details of your conference are communicated to speakers so they know what to expect. For example, they need to know what the conference is about, its theme, who the target audience is, where it is being held, who else is speaking at the event and what technology and facilities they will have available to them on the day.
Doing this will give your speakers confidence that your event is organised and being managed correctly.
Step 5: Be Communicative
Booking speakers well in advance – and having a plan B – is without doubt the most sensible thing to do. However, if you do book a speaker far in advance then it’s essential to be communicative. Stay in contact as much as possible. Let them know how ticket sales are going, who else will be speaking, the topics that are being discussed and any other pertinent information.
It’s also important to ensure that all travel arrangements are made for your speaker well in advance and details of this are communicated to them.
Step 6: Always Have A Back-Up Plan
In a perfect world nothing would ever go wrong. But, unfortunately, that’s not the case. Things do go wrong. People get ill, they have emergencies to attend to, travel plans go awry. And you have very little control over these kinds of events.
When you have assembled your main speakers, have a list of back up speakers you can draw upon should the worst happen. Many event management companies who source entertainers and speakers will have the capability to draw upon a catalogue of other speakers in cases like this, which means less stress for you. However, if you are going it alone make sure you have your plan B in place well in advance so you can handle hiccups like this with (relative) ease.
At KDM Events, we have over 25 years of experience in conference and event management. Therefore, we have a lot of contacts we can draw upon to help you source the best conference speakers for your event. What’s more, we can manage the whole process for you. Simply tell us what you need and our Event Managers will make contact, pitch, negotiate and secure big-name speakers for your conference while you focus your energies on other areas.
Should you need it we can also support you with any other planning needs you may have too. From strategy and theme development to travel management, entertainment and venue sourcing, we can chip in to support flexibly as and when you need it. Or, if you’d rather outsource the whole process, as an award-winning event management company delivering successful events every day throughout the UK, we’re well placed to use our expertise to take charge and deliver the best event possible.
To find out more, contact our team today for an informal chat. We’d be happy to help with any and all aspects of planning your event.