Your event’s speakers set the tone of the event. They truly are the main attraction of the day as well as of your marketing materials. Because of this, we challenge you to make choosing your speakers central to planning your event.
Before you start your speaker research, here are a few tips:
Set the Place, Date and Time
Speakers who are in high demand will want to know the date and location of the event. Since they’re sought after, they’ll most likely have a jam-packed schedule with no room for ambiguous dates or locations. So secure this in first.
Establish the Goals to achieve
What are you looking for from your event? Is the event to build momentum around a product launch, to spur an important conversation that needs to be held, to reconnect to educate current employees?
Pinpointing the purpose of your event will help you land on the theme of your event. Themes can be tightly adhered to or loosely followed. The theme topic will be affected by several factors such as the purpose of your event, the industry your event is held for, and the audience insights you can rely on to grow your event.
Think of the Budget you have
A commonly held belief is that speakers will jump at the opportunity to speak for free in exchange for exposure. While this might be true for new speakers, seasoned speakers may not even think twice about saying no. While it’s true that many speakers have their popular speeches committed to memory, much more goes into preparing for a speech than what meets the eye. The best speakers will want to learn more about their future audience, what challenges they may be facing, and will change their speech to address those issues. This means extra time adjusting those slides and tailoring their message and story. And extra time means extra money. So keep the behind the scenes work in mind when creating a budget.
Start the Search
Once you’ve gathered all the above information, you can start searching for speakers. If that last sentence took your breath away, don’t worry; we’ve got some powerful tips to help you find those star speakers.
While there are online tools like eSpeakers and the NSA (the National Speaker’s Association), we’ll let you in on a little secret: your quickest way to find quality speakers is to skip these tools. Don’t get us wrong, there are top quality speakers listed on those sites; there are also many speakers who are not industry leaders which can make searching through their catalogues overwhelming. Your best bet is to go social. Then, if you want to go back to those sites to book speakers, feel free. We suggest using the following sites and tools, in the order they appear:
- Related Events – Keep a running list of speakers from events similar to yours, in size, industry, and maybe even location. This is a great and fast way to prequalify each speaker. However, be sure to mix this approach with the following three to keep things fresh for your attendees.
- TED’s List of Speakers – If you’ve been involved with the event industry at any point in the past five years, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of TED or TED Talks. TED is an annual conference that began in Monterey, California where experts are invited to give prolific talks on their work, experience, and findings. In the past few years TEDx Talks have popped up in thousands of cities worldwide in the form of TEDx events. Each of these annual events features at least 10 powerful presentations by subject matter experts. TED keeps a running list of all TED and TEDx speakers which means that they’ve got a huge catalogue of leading edge speakers. If you only use one tool to help you find speakers, make it this one.
- Youtube – If you don’t have any luck with searching through TED’s list of speakers, turn to the world’s second largest search engine: YouTube. Searching for your desired subject matter will bring up many thought-leaders in that industry. Before even visiting their website, you can see whether an individual is a candidate for speaking at your event by watching them discuss their work. If a speaker has any notoriety you’ll likely be able to view them in many aspects on YouTube: on stage (most importantly!), in professional interviews, and maybe even in the form of vlogs (video blogs).
- Klout– it is a website that ranks social media users by influence. They use signifiers such as number of retweets, followers, and likes to score individuals on digital clout. This is extremely useful as, the more influential your speakers, the more attendees their involvement will draw. Plus, any live social media coverage will go even further with digitally influential speakers present.