Successful event planning can be hard. The difference between an incredibly successful event and a miserably boring event can be boiled down to whether or not you have tantalizing speakers.
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that public speaking anxiety, or glossophobia, affects about 73 percent of the population. So don’t assume that just any expert is going to be a tantalizing speaker.
9 ways to find tantalizing speakers for your event
There are talented experts in every field who would be flattered by the opportunity to speak at your event. Here are nine ways you can uncover them.
Sign on and and search for people who have specific keywords in their profile that are related to your niche or event topic. You can filter further by how many connections people have; this can be a great indicator as to who the influencers are in your space and who you might want to contact to speak at your event.
2. Find them on YouTube
Another way to find people is going on YouTube and typing in your keyword. Find people who have spoken on this topic at events or conferences that were recorded, or people who created their own YouTube videos on this topic. This way, you can watch the person in action to see if their speaking style is on par with what you’re looking for. You can then use a tool to find their email address.
3. Find them on Twitter
Go on Twitter and search under specific hashtags and keywords for influencers to DM who have a lot of followers in your space.
4. Find them on Google
Google the keyword or the topic of your event and see what shows up on page one. The articles that appear on page one are often written by experts in the space. You can reach out to these authors to see if they might be interested in speaking at your event or open to an interview to see if it’s a fit.
5. Find them in Facebook Groups
Join Facebook Groups within your niche and take notice of who are the most active members that are contributing valuable content. These are great candidates for speakers at your event.
6. Look at past events on Eventbrite and Meetup
Go on Eventbrite,Meetup, or even browse around Facebook and look for events in your niche and neighborhood and who the speakers were. Even better, if you know someone who attended the event, you can get the inside scoop on which speakers were the best.
7. Look at conference agendas
Sujan Patel, Right Inbox Co-Founder says: “Check out other conferences in your industry or related industries. See who's speaking at those conferences, and reach out to them to find out if they'd be interested in speaking at your event."
8. Ask another event organizer
Reach out to other event organizers in your space and ask them for the names of the most engaging speakers they’ve ever worked with. They can likely steer you in the right direction, as they’ve already done this work and learned from their mistakes.
9. Ask speakers in your niche
Have you heard an engaging speaker recently? Reach out to ask them about other engaging speakers that they have spoken alongside in the past or may have seen at another event in your niche. Once you get one speaker, you can use their name as social proof when doing outreach to subsequent speakers. However, it can be difficult to know in advance if someone is going to be an engaging speaker.
How to gauge whether a speaker will be tantalizing
Interview the expert in advance. Have a phone call and ask them questions about their experience and knowledge. For example:
“What is an accomplishment or recent project that you’re most proud of?” “What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career?” “Tell me a little bit about how you got to where you are today.”
Ask a question that is more specifically tied to the topic of your event and their expertise.
Listen for stories. Ask questions that will elicit them to tell a story. Listen if they are able to tell stories and explain challenges in a way that keeps you engaged, teaches you something new, allows you to visualize the situation, and uses humor. If they are able to accomplish those tasks through storytelling, the person will likely be an engaging speaker for your event.
Steer clear of fluff. Listen for tactical advice. Ask questions in a way that will elicit them to share actionable tactics and advice. I love when I attend an event and walk away with golden nuggets that I can apply in my own life immediately. No one likes to listen to vague fluff.
Check to see if they have an audience on social media. Usually, people who have engaging things to say have an audience of people who love listening to them. Do they have many followers and likes on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, or Youtube? This can be a great way to gauge this person’s ability to create content that people enjoy.
Extend the life of every event
If you’re putting in all this effort to host the event of your dreams, make sure the juice is worth the squeeze. Make sure you’re utilizing this valuable content it in as many ways as you possibly can.
Ask your speaker to share event materials before and after the event.
How to make sure your event is a success
It can be difficult to plan a successful event. However, below are five tips to help ensure your next event and all future events are successes.
Utilize an event planning checklist
Finding speakers for an event is one of the easier parts. Event planning is extremely challenging, as there are often so many moving pieces and ways for things to go wrong.
That’s why it’s important to have a really clear process for planning a successful event time and time again. There are many event planning checklists to follow out there. They includes things like finding a venue and the timeline of when you should interview your speakers and follow up with questions, as well as all the little moving pieces like catering, name tags, and other things you don’t want to forget on the day of your event.
Create a detailed agenda
Once you have your list speakers, make sure they know what topics they will speak about or what interview questions will be asked of them. This will help ensure that things go smoothly.
Find an engaging emcee or host
If the event is a fireside chat, it’s a great idea to have the host or emcee speak with each of the speakers in advance. A great host or emcee will integrate information from each of the speakers in order to craft the perfect questions the audience can learn from.
In fact, whether or not the event is “tantalizing” largely weighs on how talented your emcee is at asking the right questions and pulling out the most interesting information for the audience to hear.
Determine your “know, feel, do”
Before an event takes place, it's important for the organizers to sit down and ask themselves what they want people to know once the event is over; how they want people to feel; and what they want people to do.
Identifying your “know, feel and do” in advance of your event, and sharing it with your speakers, will ensure these values get infused into messaging on stage.
For example, when I hosted a fireside chat for Improvado about How to Solve Your Marketing Data Nightmare, this was my know, feel, do:I want marketers to know that they don’t have to waste time manually building reports and dashboards each month. I want marketers to feel relieved that there is an easy way to streamline to their data nightmare. I want these marketers to do is to schedule a free data diagnostic session.
Have a clear call-to-action (CTA)
Maybe you want attendees to visit a website, download a piece of content, or to buy tickets to your next event. Regardless of what it is, make sure that you end your event with a clear call-to-action (CTA).
It’s actually fairly easy to get the speakers that you want to come speak at your event. Even if they are very influential and you think that you don’t have a shot at landing them, it's worth it to reach out and ask. People are often very flattered and they don’t get asked to speak nearly as often as you would think.
Hailey Friedman co-founded
Growth Marketing Pro and built it into a 6-figure passive income business in 18 months with SEO alone. She leads and advises growth at venture-backed startups in San Francisco and around the world, generating millions in revenue. Connect with Hailey on LinkedIn.