A call for speakers typically includes information about the theme or focus of the event, the types of sessions or presentations that are being looked for, and the deadline for submitting proposals. It may also include information about the selection process, the benefits of speaking at the event, and any other relevant details. The goal of a call for speakers is to encourage a diverse range of speakers to submit proposals and to ensure that the event has a range of high-quality, relevant presentations.
Here are six tips to help you create a successful call for speakers.
1. Clearly define the theme or focus of the event
It's essential to provide a clear and concise overview of the theme or focus of the event in your call for speakers. This will help speakers understand the context in which their presentations will be given and how they can align their proposals with the overall goals of the event. You might consider providing a list of specific topics that you are interested in. Another clever way of directly suggesting your preferred session topics is to create a custom multiple-choice field in the call for speakers form, so speakers have to address it during submission. Of course, you can also opt for a more general theme and encourage speakers to come up with their own ideas.
By having a clearly defined theme for the event, you will make life much easier for your potential speakers, as they will have a good idea if their session(s) are a good fit for your event. You will also greatly reduce the number of unsuitable proposals, making your session selection and overall event management that much easier.
2. Provide information about the format of the event and the types of sessions that are being looked for
In your call for speakers, you should provide details about the format of the event and the types of sessions or presentations you are looking for. For example, are you looking for panel discussions, keynote speeches, lightning talks, or interactive workshops? This will help speakers understand what is expected of them and will enable them to tailor their proposals accordingly.
Sometimes you may want to ask different questions in your submission form based on the type of session selected by the speaker. You can handle such scenarios with custom fields that can be tied together with conditional logic. For example, if your potential speaker wants to hold a workshop, you can ask them about their preferred duration and the maximum number of attendees. In case he selects some other type of session, you can ask him a different set of additional questions.
3. Specify the deadline for submitting proposals
Remember to specify the deadline for submitting proposals in your call for speakers. This will give speakers a clear timeline for submitting their proposals and will ensure that you have enough time to review and evaluate all of the submissions.
Can't decide when to launch a call for speakers? Every event organizer has a certain preference. Here's a general guideline: the sooner you open it, the proposals could be less up-to-date with current events, but waiting for too long could have a negative impact on ticket sales. Event attendees usually like to browse the event schedule and list of speakers before buying a ticket. If you don't have them available, you're less likely to sell tickets successfully.
If you need general guidance, event organizers who use Sessionize launch a call for speakers on average 156 days (~5 months) ahead of the event, and they keep it open for 59 days (~2 months).
4. Encourage a diverse range of speakers to submit proposals
Encouraging a diverse range of speakers to submit proposals for your event is very important. This can include individuals from different backgrounds, industries, and perspectives. A diverse lineup of speakers will help to ensure that the event is inclusive and representative of a variety of viewpoints. Don't hesitate to contact potential speakers through social networks, such as LinkedIn, or reach out to particular user groups and offer them collaboration or sponsorship.
5. Clearly outline the selection process and criteria that will be used to evaluate proposals
In your call for speakers, it is a good idea to opt for complete transparency regarding the selection process and criteria that will be used to evaluate proposals. This will help speakers understand what they need to include in their proposals and how their proposals will be judged. You might consider including a list of specific criteria that will be used to evaluate proposals, such as the relevance of the topic, the speaker's expertise in the subject matter, and the potential impact of the presentation.
Sometimes it's a good idea to do the so-called blind evaluations (dubbed “Anonymous mode” in Sessionize), where real speaker names are replaced with made-up ones, and speaker photos, biographies, and other details are hidden.
6. Consider offering incentives or benefits to speakers
You might consider offering incentives or benefits to speakers as an additional motivation for them to participate in your event. For example, you might offer to cover their travel expenses or invite them to a speaker dinner. Many speakers will appreciate it if you prepare a dedicated speaker's lounge at the venue. Promoting speakers through social networks and giving them networking opportunities at your event are two additional excellent incentives for their participation. All these benefits can be especially helpful for speakers who might otherwise be unable to attend the event.
Sessionize allows you to easily organize a call for speakers (call for papers), evaluate the sessions, fully manage the submitted sessions and speakers, build the schedule, and handle various other aspects of managing an event. Try it out today, with no limitations and completely free of charge.