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So you’ve found your speaker, now what?

In “5 Questions to ask when looking for event speakers” and “5 Tips for finding speakers who won’t leave you in the lurch”, we discussed finding the speaker who would be a perfect fit for your event, conduct himself/herself in a professional manner and give you maximum bang for your buck. So where to next? Read on and find out...

Talk it out Once you’ve identified your speaker, make a time to meet them, call them, or brief them over email. Discuss their presentation with them (or their assistant) and follow up by providing a written briefing document. Confirm the size and scope of your event, and the makeup of your audience. Make sure the speaker understands the objective of your event so that they can tailor their presentation accordingly. This is a critical foundation to set.

Discuss support resources Think beyond the keynote address. Speakers may have personalised content for your audience; a survey to help them assess where they can improve; a summary of the keynote address; online tools for implementing the principles the speaker uses as a basis for his/her work; or training manuals and books. Discuss these offerings with your speaker.

"Opportunities multiply as they are seized" - Sun Tzu

Finalise & sign the contract Check the dates and event requirements in your contract and make sure that the finer details are adequately covered. Don't assume that time changes are OK should you find yourself running behind schedule on the day of the event. Don't assume that it is fine to record the presentation and load it onto your website; clarify this first. Make sure speakers are aware of what their responsibilities are should they cancel their keynote address or experience delays.

Marketing Will your speaker be available to do media interviews about your event, which will be mutually beneficial and give exposure to both your event and the speaker? The speaker should provide you with a short biography and write-up of their offering for marketing material like pre-event mailers, newsletters, your website and social media. Will the speaker be available to attend or take part in your event press conference or to speak to media attending your event? Will your team be tweeting about the presentation; have live streaming available and Facebook posts during presentations? The speaker needs to be made aware of what kind of marketing you are doing during their presentation, if for no other reason than etiquette

AV Equipment Make sure that you know exactly what AV equipment your speaker will need to ensure their presentation runs smoothly. You want to avoid AV nightmares on the day. A few things to consider are: What type of microphone do they prefer; Do they need a sound jack for their laptop; Is their presentation file compatible with the software on the computer you are using – and if not, can they use their own laptop; Do they have the necessary connectors to make sure they can connect their laptop to your projector?

Protocols Are there any protocols that would be relevant for your speaker’s presentation, e.g. Will there be VIPs attending; does the speaker need to acknowledge certain audience members or be aware of any particular details that would enhance their presentation? What are the venue protocols; will there be a special holding room for speakers? Observing proper protocol will avoid embarrassment for your speaker and ensure your VIP audience members do not become disgruntled.

Send out a briefing document, reminders and a final call before your event If you’ve planned your event in good time, it’s appropriate to send out a final reminder to make sure that your speaker is ready for your event and that all the final details have been taken care of. Do this as far in advance as is practical. You want to make sure you leave yourself and your speaker enough time to make any changes/adjustments if something has been overlooked.

Have a back-up plan in place Make sure that you have contingency plans in place should something go wrong (just like in “A speaker’s worst nightmare”) your speaker being late or not arriving at all. Will your speaker provide a replacement should he/she have an emergency and not be able to attend your event? Talk to your MC about what the plan will be should your programme not proceed as you’d hoped.


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