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How can you source speakers for your next conference?

May 21, 2014 by In House Marketing

Clapping hands in suits

When you’re hosting a conference or corporate event, choosing the right people to speak is vital – good speakers can be the difference between something average and something great. Securing a high-profile speaker that is well-known and credible in turn secures that person’s fans and followers, reaching potential audiences who may not have been familiar with your brand previously. But just how do you source a good speaker?

Make a list: What are you looking for in a speaker? Someone charismatic, someone with a history of great public speaking, someone with a large online following… Make a list of must-haves and a list of qualities you can be flexible on.

  • Make another list (after some research): To make a list of headhuntable speakers, you’ll need to do some research. Our personal favourite search options for speakers are via Google, SlideShare, Twitter and LinkedIn. Who are the leaders in the industry? Have they spoken at conferences or similar events in the past? Are their ideals similar to your company’s ideals? Write up a second list of ‘dream’ speakers – even speakers who may seem to be out of your league. Make sure they match the must-haves in the first list you drew up.
  • Stalk (the non-creepy kind of stalking): Before you approach any of your potential speakers, just do a quick search to see if they have any prior arrangements around the time of your event. If they’re in Perth on a Thursday and you’d like them to be in Sydney on Friday morning, well, planes make this possible but the speaker may not be so keen on the idea. Getting a rough idea of where in the world your speakers are will help narrow down the list of potential candidates.
  • Plan your proposal: Again, before you even think about approaching your now narrowed-down list of dream speakers, ensure that what you’re asking them to do is spelled out plainly and clearly so that they understand what they’re potentially getting into and how much time and effort they need to commit before the event. You can’t just use power phrases like ‘you’ll be a great fit’ – your speaker candidate is going to want to know more than just that. What type of audience are you expecting? Will you be paying them for their time or compensating for travel/accommodation expenses? Will there be media coverage? Once you’ve been as thorough as possible with potential concerns, you can approach your speakers.
  • Reach out: Get your people in contact with your person’s people. Or reach out to them personally: email, tweet, see if one of your contacts on LinkedIn is in their network. Otherwise, you can consult a speakers bureau, which specialise in aiding people (for example, you) book speakers for events, meetings and conferences. However, bear in mind there is usually a fee involved for this service.

Need more advice about corporate events? Take a look at our corporate events blog category.