One of the primary reasons delegates choose to attend a conference is the quality of the educational content that is being offered, and educational content comes from the professional speakers that you or your planning committee have selected. Speakers are one of the keys to the success of your event and keeping speakers informed, happy, and relaxed is a very important part of the conference planning process.
After you’ve negotiated and signed the speaker agreements (See: Compensating Industry Speakers) the real prep work begins. Here are a few tips to ensure that your speakers are just as happy as your attendees:
1. Help them get to know their audience. Provide speakers with as much information about their audience as possible. Speakers may like to know who is attending, where they are from, and which companies these attendees represent. This will help speakers customize their presentations to better suit the needs of our audience. Speakers are busy and likely have a few speaking engagements the same month as yours, so send them information related to your conference objectives and about the association (or group putting on the conference). They may not get the info they need simply by sifting through the About Us section on your website.
2. Maintain communication and send out a final email with all conference details at least two weeks prior to the event. Send them a friendly reminder of the important deadlines, registration details, hotel information, and anything else related to the conference to ensure that they arrive on-site stress free. Here is a sample list of what you can include in the final email:
- Copy of the final conference program
- Hotel floor plan (information about the room in which they will be speaking)
- Registration hours and location
- Presentation timing (including Q&A)
- Power Point presentation format
- Audio visual set up details
- Rehearsal times
- Networking events
- On-site contact information
- Social Media links and event social media strategy
3. Promote your speakers. Speakers will benefit from the extra exposure. Highlight their sessions in promotional materials, post their bios on your website, and use social media to promote your conference speakers and their presentations. If available you can also post links on your website to their blogs, websites or twitter accounts.
4. Give them opportunities to do more than speak to your attendees. Many speakers are hoping to attend your conference and do more than just speak for 45 minutes in front of a crowd. They may want to promote their new book, attend an evening networking event, participate in group Q&A sessions, or even attend the full conference. Meeting the attendees before their presentation allows them to add an additional level of personalization to their presentation although some speakers prefer to not interact prior to an event.
5. Share your conference survey results. You aren’t the only one looking for actionable feedback from attendees. The information collected from your post-conference survey can offer relevant insight to speakers. Was their presentation a success? Did attendees enjoy their presentation style? Was the content relevant to the audience? Once you’ve collected your results, consider sharing them with your speakers to help them improve their future presentations.
Keeping speakers happy and informed is an important part of the job for most conference organizers. The relationship begins when the agreement is sent, continues during the planning process and must be present on-site as well. Greet your speakers at registration with a smile and take care of them during your conference.