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How to find speakers for your conference

Planning a conference and looking for conference speakers, or even a keynote speaker? Here are four expert tips to help you find the best conference speakers for your event.

1) Look for experienced speakers

There’s a huge difference between being an expert in your field, and being a brilliant speaker on your topic. So, if you’re starting your hunt for speakers, focus on proven inspirational speakers and people who already have a track record of great talks.

One place you can start, is to search Slideshare for keywords associated with your event. Not only can you get an idea of which presentations on that topic are the most popular (based on view count), but you’ll get a preview of a speaker’s talk, and how well (or otherwise) they present their knowledge.

Once you have a wish list of potential speakers, research them. Do they have YouTube videos of them talking? Do they have a solid reputation? How do they conduct themselves on social media? And, importantly, what kind of following do they have (if you pick popular speakers you’ll find it easier to attract exhibitors and attendees)?

2) Find unusual or unexpected speakers

As much as you want to secure trusted, experienced speakers who are well known among your audience, it can also help to throw in a wild card or two.

By ‘wild card’ we mean a speaker that your attendees may never have heard talk before, or someone who may present an alternative view of your conference theme.

Why? Because if your speakers are already well known, there is a chance that your attendees have heard them talk before, or are already more than familiar with their topic or expertise. But a brand new speaker, especially someone unusual, can be the difference between an attendee deciding to give your conference a miss, or making space for it in their diary.

An unusual or new speaker also makes your conference more newsworthy, and makes the task of promoting your conference that bit easier.   

3) Pick your keynote speaker carefully

There are conference speakers, and there’s your keynote speaker. A keynote speaker is the person who gives the headline talk of your conference. They will give the talk that defines the aim or meaning of your conference.

This will usually involve you giving them a brief for their talk, and require research on their part to write an appropriate, bespoke talk for your conference.

So while it’s important to ensure all your speakers are right, it’s essential you choose the best keynote speaker for this role. And the secret of achieving this lies in your preparation. You need to be clear about:

  • The objective/theme of your conference.
  • Your audience – what do they want to hear, feel or learn?
  • Your expectations of your keynote speaker.
  • How you will measure a successful keynote speech.

Once you’re clear about all of this, you need to follow a similar section process as for all your speakers, but with the understanding that this role will come with extra responsibility, preparation and prestige.

4) Prepare your pitch

When approaching potential speakers or a keynote speaker, make sure your pitch is carefully prepared. If they’re high profile, you’ll need convince them you’re the perfect platform to increase their professional reputation as much as assess whether they’re really right for your event.

Here are some important points to consider when approaching potential speakers or a keynote speaker:

  • What do you want them to talk about (you don’t want an irrelevant talk, or six talks on the same subject!)?
  • What expectations do you have of them? For example, do you expect them to be available for questions afterwards?
  • Will you video their talk? And if so, how will you use the footage?
  • What social media and other promotion will you give them/their talk?
  • What social media or other promotion do you expect of them?
  • How many attendees are you expecting? And what media coverage are you planning?

Are you preparing for an event? Take a look at our checklist for planning a conference, and find out more about our conference venues in London.

For more information on how you can host your next event with us, or learn more about our unique venues, contact the Imperial Venues team.