Finding the right speaker for your conference should be easy. There are thousands of speakers that can be booked. You have professional speakers, subject matter experts and celebrity speakers to choose from.

Surely it cannot be that difficult to select the right one. But it is. Ask any event planner or Learning & Development practitioner and they will tell you the same. People have different expectations when it comes to choosing speakers. And different expectations lead to problems.

But, by being precise with your words you will find the right speaker.

Let’s take a look.

Each Speaker has a Different Role

Within any conference or event programme there will be a variety of speakers. And each speaker has a specific role to play. Event planners would soon bore their delegates if every session was the same as the one before it.

To ensure that each speaker understands how they contribute to the overall programme it’s essential that they are super clear on what is expected from them.
The best way to do that is in writing. Conversations will only get you so far and you need a written record to fall back on to eliminate any potential problems. Plus, the record can help with the drawing up of speaker contracts.

Are you Using the Right Words?

It can be very easy for speaker requests to be written quickly and without too much thought. After all there are many tasks to be attended to when producing an event. But not taking time on the speakers request will store problems for later.

It is strongly recommended that you do not use buzzwords. They can easily cause confusion. For example, a request for a “cutting-edge” speaker. What does that mean? What evidence would be needed to demonstrate that the correct speaker had been found? It’s too vague. However, if you were to ask for a speaker that was known in their field for working on innovative projects, you would have a better chance of finding your speaker.

Please take care with words that can commonly be used interchangeably. But very often they mean different things and shouldn’t be used as interchangeable. For example, speaker agencies are often asked for a motivational or an inspirational speaker. An inspirational speaker could possibly be a motivational one, but this is not always the case. I remember some years ago attending a conference in Malaga. The keynote speaker was Edward De Bono. There was no doubt that to me he was truly inspirational. But he wouldn’t be someone that I would have put in the motivational category.

It can be a fine line but one that needs to be clearly clarified if you want the right speaker.

Take for example, other key words such as hard hitting, or uncompromising, or nurturing, what do these mean in the context of the conference?

What do you mean if you request a speaker to be mindful of the audience? Or you want a speaker to liven them up. What does any of this mean? Being clear in your mind is fine, but you need to make sure that it is understood by the recipient.

You can of course, give examples of what the terms mean. Otherwise, you will end up with what the speaker thinks you want, which may not be the same thing at all.

Step Away and Pause

Once you have written the request for the speaker, it’s almost time to send it. But I suggest you resist that temptation. Don’t hit the email send button and don’t be tempted to pick up your phone to make a call.

It’s challenging to pause but it will be very beneficial if you leave your words for the moment.

Let’s not forget that speakers are an integral part of the success of your conference. Rushing the request will not help. And a short break, even to delay by just for an hour isn’t going to make any difference overall.

Review and Refine

Having taken a pause from your original words, now it’s time to review them. Read the words out loud. Do you clearly detail what you are looking for? Is there any ambiguity in the language that you have used? is there any contradiction in what you are seeking?

If you are happy with it then it is time to send it on. But if there are amendments to be made then now is the time.

Job descriptions are always reviewed before they are released. This is the same. You are asking a speaker to fulfil a role. Time invested now will be beneficial.

Conclusion – Be Precise for Better Results

Everyone (with few exceptions) will claim that they are busy. This is intensified in the events sector which is always under pressure. It has been for years and will be more so again as post pandemic events swing into life.

But none of being busy should get in the way of taking time to be clear on what is needed you’re your speakers. After all, selecting the wrong speakers will live with you long after the event has ended. Taking the time to be clear will be beneficial.

It will reflect in positive post evaluation satisfaction scores. It will provide a stronger ROI.

Being precise minimises errors, manages expectations and pays off.

Features Editor
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