A guide to building the perfect speaker lineup for your event.

Creating a fantastic speaker lineup is one of the most crucial parts of planning a successful event! The right speakers can draw crowds and inspire your audience, all while electrifying your event goals. The power of a good speech, am I right?

In this guide, we’ll walk you through six essential steps in curating an engaging and impactful speaker lineup. From defining your goals to speaker spreadsheets, we’ll go over everything you need to know to ensure your event is a hit! Let’s get started.

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Think about your event goals.

First things first – what goals do you have for your event? Maybe you would like to increase event attendance by 20%, or increase how often attendees are returning to your events.

Consider your overall brand vision along with goals for that specific event. Are you aiming to educate, inspire, or create networking opportunities? Having clear, measurable goals is crucial to success!

Your speakers should align with these objectives. Think of your event goals as the touchpoint where you can connect your brand and speakers. This gives you the flexibility to include a variety of voices, all while ensuring that they contribute to your event’s core purpose. 

Start by identifying any key themes or main topics you’d like to address – the main pillars of your event. For example, if your event is under the “umbrella” of technological innovation, list all the relevant topics you could cover. For example, your lineup of speakers could cover topics like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, or the future of tech. A clear framework of topics will ensure that you are choosing speakers who actually cover these topics. No matter how charming that speaker is, if they aren’t relevant to your event at all, it won’t be beneficial in the long-run.

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Consider your crowd.

Catering to topics and speakers that will interest event attendees is just as important as defining your goals. Who are they, and what issues do they care about? Do they resonate with social justice topics, financial advice, or health and wellness? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you choose speakers who can truly connect with them.

Use surveys or polls to conduct audience research and gather insights. Ask your potential attendees about their interests, pain points, and what they hope to gain from attending the event! All of this info will be invaluable in guiding your speaker selection process. Additionally, look at the demographics of your audience, such as their age, profession, and geographic location, to tailor your content appropriately.

Detailed audience personas can represent different segments within your audience. For example, you might have personas like “Tech Enthusiast Tom” who is always on the lookout for the latest gadgets and innovations, or “Health-Conscious Helen” who is interested in wellness and lifestyle topics. These personas will help you visualize your audience and make more informed decisions about your speaker lineup.

Analyze feedback from past events to see what were the hottest topics amongst attendees. If certain speakers or topics were popular, consider bringing them back or finding similar voices to enhance your lineup.

Engage with your audience on social media to hear about trending topics in your niche (or in general). Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, or even TikTok can be goldmines for understanding trending topics and influential voices in your industry. Jump in and participate in relevant conversations and take note of any people or topics that generate buzz. By truly understanding your audience, you can select the perfect speakers to not only attract attendees but also provide them with a valuable, memorable experience.

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Search for speakers.

Time to roll up your sleeves and start making your list of potential speakers! To create a well-rounded lineup, focus on gathering a diverse pool of candidates with different backgrounds and experiences. Strive for a balance of gender and culture. Both seasoned experts and fresh, new voices can bring something unique to the table. 

A good speaker lineup should include a mix of big names and emerging talent. Have a few well-known keynote speakers as your anchors to interest and excite attendees. Share the spotlight with emerging talent with specific slots. A newcomer can bring a fresh perspective and innovative ideas! Plus, they can often lend a unique take on current issues and trends that resonate with your audience. Pairing big names and newer people in the industry is a fantastic way to create dynamic interactions. Encourage the more established speakers to mentor with the newer folks. Not only does this make your event better, but it provides valuable networking opportunities for the speakers. It’s a win-win!

Scout online networks such as LinkedIn or tap into your list of contacts. Ask for recommendations from your audience and peers – who would they like to see speak and why? This can lead to discovering hidden gems that you might not have considered.

Attending other events is a great way to spot speakers who captivate their audiences – or even just to find inspiration! Speaker bureaus such as Innovation Women can provide a curated list of professional speakers, along with info and reviews, making it a breeze to find a good match for your event.

Don’t limit yourself to those in your local area. Virtual speakers can broaden your options – and online presentations can bring in top-tier talent from all around the world, without the difficulty of travel!

Set yourself up for success by getting organized with a spreadsheet or project management tool like Notion or Google Sheets. A little bit of preparation can ensure that nothing slips through the cracks!

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Start booking your lineup.

Once you have your list of potential speakers, it’s time to start booking! This involves contact, communication, and negotiation with your chosen speakers. Don’t forget about your virtual speakers! 

Send personalized invitations to your top picks. Highlight the reasons you think they’d be a great fit for your event, and how their participation aligns with your goals. Make your expectations clear and what you’ll offer to them in return! Don’t shy away from contracts – they’re a great way to protect your brand and ensure a smooth collaboration.

This could include anything from speaking fees, travel arrangements, or promotional opportunities. 

Once a speaker agrees to participate, keep them in the loop with regular updates. Communication is key! Provide your speakers with all of the necessary details of the event, including the schedule, deliverables, and more about your audience. Make sure that they feel supported and are ready to deliver a great performance! 

Consider using a contract to formalize the agreement and outline the terms of their participation. This helps to avoid misunderstandings or random changes. Still, be flexible and open to suggestions and feedback! 

Don’t forget about networking – leverage your connections to book the best. Use your professional networks and contacts to get those juicy introductions. This adds a dash of trust to your invitations and increases the chances of booking top-tier talent.

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Nail the presentation.

Congrats – you have a full lineup of fantastic speakers! Now what? It’s your job to help your speakers succeed at your event by providing them with all the info they need, as well as communicate every step of the way. Be available to help with any issues or answer any questions they may have. You also want to make sure that your team is aligned – designate one person on your team to act as the primary line of communication.

During the day of the event, designate a team member to act as a troubleshooter and assist your speakers with any last-minute issues that may arise. This relieves stress or anxiety from your speakers so they can focus on delivering a fantastic performance. It also makes for a (relatively) snag-free event!

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Listen to feedback.

After the event wraps up, follow up with your speakers and thank them for participating. Ask for any feedback they may have in order to improve your process and ensure a better experience in the future. In addition, gather feedback from your audience to see which speakers resonated most. Surveys, polls, and social media are great methods. Use this information to help refine your approach for future events. Basically, give the people what they want. 

Get specific – what they liked most, what they found helpful, and the areas that could use improvement. Again, this can help you in making informed (and more specific) decisions about your speaker lineup. 

Don’t forget to gather feedback from your own team! If any of the speakers were a nightmare to work with, you can think twice before booking them at your next event. Feedback lets you continuously make improvements to your event.

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating the perfect speaker lineup for your event. Happy searching!

June 26, 2024

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June 26, 2024

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