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Speakers: They’re one of the most important components of events, whether virtual or in-person. A good speaker has the power to engage and motivate your members, in addition to increasing membership renewal rates and new sign-ups. Insightful speeches can also become key talking points attendees remember long after an event has wrapped up.

According to a study by Vimeo, 64% of participants agree that speaker quality encourages them to sign up for events. So if you’re looking for ways to drive traffic to your next event, choosing interesting speakers is one of the best ways to generate buzz. 

But how do you do that? Here’s our guide to choosing the right speaker for your next association event.

Considerations When Choosing Speakers

Of course, you don’t want to choose just anyone as a guest speaker. Consider the main theme of the event, your audience, and what kind of engagement style you’re after. 

Do you prefer an interactive speaker who asks the audience questions? And what kind of tone is most appropriate — are you looking for someone with a more formal style or someone who can make your members laugh? 

Answering these questions will allow you to eliminate some prospects right off the bat and give you an idea of where to best target your efforts.

Selecting Diverse Speakers

A rise in hybrid and virtual events has fortunately made it easier to add diverse speakers to your lineup. That means your members can benefit from differing perspectives and enjoy learning in a more equitable environment. 

One way to ensure a diverse speaker roster is to put out an open call for applications, complete with clear guidelines on what kind of qualifications and background you’re looking for. But experience isn’t everything — keep in mind that hardworking, thought-provoking individuals may bring a lot to the table, even if they’ve never participated in events of your caliber before.

You can also ask your network for recommendations, or even take to browsing for suitable candidates on LinkedIn. Working with a diverse scouting team is another way of ensuring a more diverse speaker lineup.

Finding and Choosing Experts

As we’ve already mentioned, LinkedIn, word-of-mouth, and calls for proposals can be great resources for finding experts in your field. You might also consider browsing:

  • TED Talks
  • Speaker websites (like the National Speakers Association)
  • Past events you and your team have attended
  • Referrals and networking
  • YouTube
  • Your local Chamber of Commerce
  • Industry publications
  • Universities
  • Nonprofits

Asking for Member Input

Inviting diverse, expert voices to speak at your events is a crucial part of sustaining your DE&I efforts. But at the end of the day, you’re putting on events for your members, and you should take their preferences into account as well. Try creating polls on your association’s Twitter or LinkedIn pages to gain member input.

Reaching out directly to your members is an option, too. In our recent article on using surveys to increase member engagement, we touched on pulse surveys as useful tools. If you’re looking for the perfect speaker for your next event, consider deploying email surveys to your member base. It’ll help you learn what your audience wants from the event and even give them a chance to offer up recommendations. 

Creating a Winning Speaker Lineup

Navigating the event speaker selection process can be tricky. The first step is to have a clear idea of what kind of expertise and personality you’re looking for. From there, the tips in this guide have got you covered in terms of selecting diverse, knowledgeable speakers your members are sure to rave over. Making a few tweaks in your speaker selection process can make a world of difference in boosting event attendance and member satisfaction.

Celita Summa
Post by Celita Summa
April 7, 2022
By day, Celita Summa is a Florida-based freelance writer specializing in business, technology, marketing, and a plethora of other topics. By night, Celita can be found developing her special talents, which include her black belt in karate, her fluent Italian, and her knack for vegan cooking.