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February 12, 2015

Five Tips for Getting Top Speakers to Your Conference

IMR blogger Stephanie Selesnick shares some top insights gleaned from a recent Twitter chat session about speakers at conferences.

Last week on #Expochat, a weekly chat session on Twitter centered on the exhibition industry that (full disclosure) I co-founded, I moderated a discussion about recruiting and directing speakers at exhibitions and conferences. Industry insiders, show managers, suppliers, exhibitors and media all shared their insights on a significant element of large-scale shows.

Participants agreed on several key points on how to get great speakers at events, including:

1. Recruitment of speakers should be an ongoing process. If you see a great speaker or someone you trust highly recommends a speaker, start investigating. Sometimes the best speakers may not be from your core industry – but are disruptors, innovators, in a niche that is related to your business, or have a worthwhile message to share.

2. Mentor and encourage younger members of your industry to speak at events. The younger folks in our industries have lots to share and new ideas. Ways of doing so include partnering with more experienced speakers, regional (smaller) meeting slots, or place them on panels. Make education and training available and encourage them to go to Toastmasters.

3. Crowdsource speakers, but don’t let it be a popularity contest. Make sure you get references if speakers are not known.

4. Like Content World, if you really want to up the game for your speakers, offer a keynote spot the next year for whoever ranks the highest.

5. Make sure your keynote speaker has relevant content to share. If it’s a celebrity who is unable to tailor their speech to your industry, pass.  (On a side note, it was 50/50 on whether having “motivational” speakers is a waste of time, or good to have. I’m with the first group.)

Traci Browne from the Red Cedar Marketing summed it up best: “A passion for topic is so important, and a fresh perspective as well. You can teach presentation skills, but you can't teach passion.”

Read the whole chat here, and use the hashtag to share your insights. #Expochat is held held every Wednesday, noon PT, 3pm ET.

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About the Author: Stephanie Selesnick

Stephanie Selesnick





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