If you aren't trying to attract the best speakers at your event, you're pretty much sabotaging yourself as a professional. Quality speakers are critical for your event's success, and your biggest competitors know the real value of gathering the best expert panels, this way assuring a higher attendance rate.
Not sure about that? Think about your attendees. Which event do you think they would prefer to attend: the one proudly showcasing a list of awesome keynote speakers who are eager to share their knowledge, or the one that promises a few names that nobody recognizes?
The answer is obvious, isn't it? If you want run a successful event and are careless about the way you choose your speakers, you're really missing out.
First, as the author Kevin Van der Straeten highlights, good speakers know how to build up a rapport with the attendees by truly connecting with them. Second, they have the ability to engage your audience and transform a passive session into a conversational one. Third, if the speakers are also considered industry influencers, they can add incredible value to your guests' professional lives.
Outstanding speakers will definitely level up your audience’s experience and put your event at the top. So what should you do to track down the best speakers for your next event?
Here's you have a few tips you can apply right away:
Tip 1. Make a list of industry thought leaders
What’s your event about? What topics would you'd like to cover? Who are your target groups? What industry thought leaders are your potential attendees following? Find the answers to these questions and then make a list of those influencers who may have a story to tell.
Check out their specific area of expertise, the latest professional news they've shared, and what they could talk about at your event. An interesting way to find thought leaders is by analyzing the TEDx list of speakers. However, be careful not to focus only on the popularity of these people, but also ponder if they truly can add value to your attendees.
Tip 2. Analyze the social proof of your potential speakers
Before inviting someone to speak at your event, research the person. Try to find out if he or she already has experience giving speeches. This will ensure the person has a higher ability and is more willing to talk in front of a big audience. Maybe they have a web page that mentions their previous (or any upcoming) speaking engagements.
Of course, there are professional speakers who know how to entertain their public with an impressive social proof regarding the work they are doing. However, don’t forget that we're looking not only for good entertainers, but also for awesome professionals who can deliver incredible insights and amaze your attendees with new information.
Tip 3. Use social media to scan for great speakers
Social listening is always a good idea when searching for good speakers. Check out what Twitter is whispering about. Are your potential attendees interacting with or talking about certain professionals who are standing out from the crowd through incredible stories? If so, maybe those same professionals could share their experience and knowledge at your event.
Tip 4. Track down your potential speakers on YouTube
Popular YouTube video makers or vloggers will always attract a big number of attendees. So how about searching for your next event’s speakers by diving into the vast ocean of video material? For example, if you’re planning to run a culinary-related event, you can always find great food how-to videos on YouTube, like knife-sharpening gurus who can engage, entertain, and educate an audience.
Tip 5. Listen to peer recommendations
Let people (potential attendees) or industry professionals guide you. Run a survey or post a question on social media asking people who they consider good 'speaker' material or what names they'd like to see in the event program. You can also run a poll and encourage people to vote for who they’d prefer to see as part of the expert panel. Sometimes, you’ll be surprised by the wisdom of the crowd. Plus, by doing so, you’ll make people feel part of the event co-creation.
Finding the best speakers isn't always easy. It requires lots of time and detailed research. But don’t get discouraged. The presence of high-quality speakers at your event will increase your attendance rate and improve your guests' learning experience. So don’t hesitate to dedicate as much effort, attention, and time as needed.