Content is king, and speakers are what make any event a successful and memorable one. You can pour your heart and soul into every other aspect of your event, but if you don't succeed in finding good speakers and interesting sessions, none of that will ultimately matter. For that reason, as an event organizer, you should do your best to ensure that your speakers have a great experience participating in your event. That's by far the best, most direct way you can show your appreciation for them applying with their session, coming to the event, and sharing their knowledge and expertise with your audience.
A speaker that feels comfortable at your event is likely to transfer that sentiment into their session(s) and on to other speakers. Speakers you establish a good relationship with will happily return to your future events and recommend your events to their friends and user groups. This will widen the pool of potential speakers for your upcoming events and make them that much easier to organize.
Here are some things that will help you ensure that your speakers have a thoroughly enjoyable experience at your event.
1. Respond to proposals in a timely manner
Your relationship with a speaker starts as soon as they respond to your call for speakers by sending their proposal. Don't underestimate the importance of following up with your speakers within a reasonable period of time to let them know the status of their proposals. If a submission is not accepted, it can be helpful to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement. This will help speakers understand why their session was not accepted and give them the opportunity to improve it for future events. In case you declined a submission because your schedule is already full, that's also something worth explaining to affected speakers. It's equally important to follow up with speakers who have been accepted to present at the event to provide them with additional information and support as needed. Overall, staying in touch with speakers throughout the process will help to ensure a smooth and successful event.
2. Be responsive and proactive in communicating with speakers
Establishing proactive communication with your speakers throughout the process of organizing your event helps build trust and a positive relationship between you and the speakers. Depending on the size of your event, you might consider assigning a dedicated point of contact to handle all speaker communications. By receiving replies to their inquiries promptly, your speakers will feel at ease, even if it's their first event with you as the organizer.
Your dedicated contact person should be ready to answer questions regarding anything related to the event itself, as well as travel arrangements, daily schedules, and any additional activities you organized, such as speaker dinners and sightseeing tours.
After selecting a suitable person, don't forget to give their email address and phone number to the speakers.
3. Provide detailed information about the logistics of the event
You should provide detailed information about the logistics of the event. Nobody likes to arrive at the venue and then wonder where to go and what to do; be mindful of your speaker's time. This might include information about the technical specifics of the venue (Wi-Fi password, type of microphone used, the possibility of using their own laptops, etc.), contact of a technician assigned to the room they're presenting in, speaker-only meals that aren't a part of the event, and anything else that your speakers should be aware of.
If your venue is technically limited, ask your speakers about their exact technical requirements and do your best to accommodate them. Should they need something you cannot provide, explain the situation and look for an alternative solution that presents a happy compromise for the speaker and yourself, the organizer.
Transparently communicating with your speakers about the logistics of the event will help them understand what to expect and enable them to plan their participation accordingly.
4. Arrange travel accommodations
While your speakers are perfectly able to book a hotel and find transport from and to the airport on their own, it's highly likely that you, as a local person, have a better idea of which hotel would be optimal in both the price and distance to the venue. This is especially true if your speakers travel from other countries and don't speak the local language. Arranging a hotel and airport transport for such speakers is one of the quickest ways to have a very happy speaker, one that's very likely to attend any future event you organize and recommend your events to their friends, business associates, and user groups.
5. Plan activities for your speakers
Presenting at your event doesn't (and shouldn't) have to be the only benefit your speakers get from it. By arranging additional speaker-only activities, you can make their participation much more meaningful. One great example is a speaker's dinner, which should ideally take place a day before the event. It will give your speakers a chance to get to know each other and have a more enjoyable event together.
Another excellent activity worth considering is an event wrap-up party. This is a terrific networking opportunity for your speakers; it's where they'll connect even better, potentially strike business deals, and make relationships that last. Having speakers return from your event with several new business relationships is bound to leave a lasting impression.
Last but not least, consider organizing a sightseeing tour or a visit to another appropriate, interesting location in the city where the event is being held. Giving your speakers a chance to unwind and breathe in their surroundings, especially on events that span multiple days, won't go unnoticed.
6. Keep (track of) your promises
This tip might strike you as obvious, as being honest and keeping promises is something everyone should strive for at all times, but it's something worth mentioning regardless. Many event organizers offer various incentives to their speakers to make them more likely to participate, such as fulfilling their special dietary needs, offering them more attractive time slots for their sessions, putting them in a hotel close to the venue, and similar. If you made any such arrangements with one or more of your speakers, make sure you do what you promised. Keeping your word and following through on commitments is essential for building trust and maintaining a good reputation.
To ensure that there are no unexpected hiccups in this regard, keep a list of what you promised (and to whom) and add the corresponding tasks to your internal schedule. If you assign such tasks to your team members, don't forget to check if such arrangements have been fulfilled in due time.
7. Thank speakers for their participation
It's surprising how many event organizers never get back to their speakers once they have their session and leave the venue. Look, we completely understand that you feel drained after the event has been wrapped up – this is perfectly normal, even when organizing smaller events. However, as soon as your current event ends, in a way, the organization of the next one starts. Do your best to contact your speakers in the next couple of days to thank them for their participation. In case you conducted a survey among your attendees and had them rate your speakers and sessions, this is an excellent opportunity to send that information to speakers. If there was a speaker you particularly liked, don't hesitate to ask them if they'd be interested in attending your future events, should you have any planned. Also, if your attendees ask about particular presentations, ensure that the speakers in question are fine with sharing them, assuming you didn't check that earlier in the event organizing process.
Sessionize allows you to easily organize a call for speakers (call for papers), evaluate the sessions, inform speakers about their session status, build the schedule, and handle various other aspects of managing an event. Try it out today, with no limitations and completely free of charge.