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From annual conferences to fun virtual webinars for members, speakers can make or break an event. While finding them is often the biggest battle, managing them can be just as challenging without the right speaker management strategy. Not only do these strategies impact the way you onboard a speaker, but also how you support them before and after the event. 

Understand Your Needs Before Booking Them

A big part of having a seamless experience with speakers is ensuring they’re the right fit for your association event. Some factors to think about when choosing a speaker include:

  • Their Expertise – Associations often have a specific focus based on industry or topic. While your speaker doesn't necessarily need to be an expert in said industry, the information they provide should be pertinent and timely.
  • Your Member Interests – One of the first steps in planning an event or conference is knowing what your members are interested in. A simple way to do this is with a survey or by checking forums to see what topics are most relevant to your organization.
  • The Focus of Your Event – For some organizations, your event may have a specific theme – things like emerging technology or culture – so be sure your speaker has the needed experience to truly provide value. 
Related: Everything You Need to Know About Event Planning for Associations Learn More >

5 Speaker Management Strategies for Event Professionals

So, once you have that perfect speaker committed to your event, how can you make the experience seamless for everyone? 

1. Get Everything You Need from Them Up Front

Nothing is worse than building out your event website only to find you’re missing important information from your speaker. Getting your hands on headshots, bios, clips from previous speaking engagements and even handouts can all be a part of your initial onboarding. 

2. Add them To Your Marketing Efforts

The other reason you want as much information from your speaker as possible? Marketing! Not only do you want to create shareable social posts with their highly polished photo – but you don’t want to create roadblocks for your marketing team as they look to drive sales or get members to register. 

Also, your speakers should be just as invested in the success of your association event as you are. While you can always encourage them to share posts and graphics from your event site, giving them those assets ahead of time will make it even easier. 

3. Train them On Your Platform

As more associations transition to or utilize fully online events – or at the very least complement their existing efforts with virtual components – chances are you have an all-new event platform with tons of capabilities. Even in a fully live event, your speaker may have access to an app or other engagement tools.

But your speaker may not know any of that!

So, before you set them loose on your audience, you should always take some time to explain all the capabilities they have. Whether they’re uploading slides and studies pertinent to their presentation or looking for ways to interact on the stage with polls and questions, you want to make it easier for them to create a more engaging experience. In a live event, you should also make sure your speakers know what they can and can’t offer in terms of hand-outs, swag or other items.

Related: Everything you should know about virtual event production Learn More >

4. Test Everything Beforehand

Getting on stage only to realize the slides aren’t formatting properly or a confidence monitor isn’t working as it should is likely every speaker's worst nightmare – and is something your speaker management strategy can help prevent. 

Before their big keynote, you should work with your speaker to ensure:

  • Their presentation materials are loading properly 
  • Any questions or polls are pre-loaded into the event platform
  • Their microphone or headset is comfortable and working properly
  • They know where cameras are located (in the event you’re live streaming or recording)

A good way to ensure you have time for testing is to schedule your speaker to arrive earlier. Of course, if they aren’t available, have backups for everything so you can quickly fix issues on the fly. 

5. Get Them Insights

While your event may be over, the relationship with your speakers is not. One of the best ways to foster a good relationship with your speakers is to provide them with insights and feedback from your event.

Metrics like demographics, attendance rates and audience comments can all help your speaker in the future while also helping you determine if they were the right fit for your association event. 

Best of all, the more supportive you are of your speakers, the better chance of them returning or, at the very least, spreading the word to fellow experts, making it easier to book speakers in the future. 

Overcommunication is Key To Speaker Management 

As an association event planner, you already have a lot on your plate, which is why streamlining speaker management should always be a top priority. One way to tackle this is by having a plan for each phase of your event. In the early stages, you should be gathering as much information as possible – speaker bios, headshots and any pertinent content you need to update your event site.

From there, you should have a plan for the day of the event. Whether they need to know how to use your new event platform or you need to check and ensure all their AV and presentation needs are met. 

After that, it’s all about providing post-event value. Feedback and metrics can go a long way to help foster a relationship with your speaker and create a reputation that your organization is easy to work with. 

With the right speaker management strategy in place, you can easily avoid nightmare speakers and added stress for your next association event. 

Jose Triana
Post by Jose Triana
July 14, 2022
Jose Triana is a writer and creative focused on helping purpose-driven organizations learn and find value online. When he isn't working on content, you can catch him going for a run or resting with a good book.