You have been put in charge of obtaining top-notch speakers for your 2-day conference next year. Your budget numbers are limited and unfortunately most of the organization's volunteers are engaged in other priorities. So, it is up to you to find them and negotiate their contracts.

Where do you start and what do you do? Here are 10 sequential steps to help you along the way. 

  1. Define the speaker's objective. Are they there to educate, persuade, or entertain your attendees? Have defined learner outcomes or key takeaways. 
  2. Put the word out. Ask your LinkedIn groups, post your needs on your social channels, check with associations, such as MPI, PCMA, and NSA for recommendations. Don't forget your local sources such as the CVB and Chamber of Commerce. And of course, you can look into partnering with a speakers bureau like Executive Speakers
  3. Once you have a listing of potential speakers, ask each one of them how they will meet your meeting objective. If possible, go view them in person or watch their talk on YouTube. Will their style mesh with your attendees? Are they content deep?
  4. When you go for your venue site visit, make certain the speaker can be viewed from all angles in the room. Check the meeting rooms for sound, lighting, and viewing obstacles. Do you need to have Plasma TVs or extra screen rentals to make certain the audience feels connected to the presenter? 
  5. Negotiate a flat fee. This saves you from worrying about additional impact on your budget if the presenter books their hotel and airline reservation late in the game. 
  6. As part of the contract, have the speaker spell out their contingency plan. What happens if they get ill, miss their flight or have a natural disaster in their hometown? Putting the onerous on the speaker or speaker bureau to find an alternative speaker of the same knowledge level and entertainment depth should be their responsibility, not yours. However, make certain you have the final say whether that speaker fits the bill for your attendees. 
  7. Have them attend the entire conference. If they come early and stay late, many of your worries are taken care of and it gives attendees a chance to network with the speaker one-on-one. Make certain you waive the conference cost if they come and let them know that is a value-add to them. 
  8. Ask them to be involved in the program. Perhaps they can MC, introduce other speakers, attend networking events, or man your registration table. In exchange for their involvement, you give them a table or booth to sell their books, CDs or DVDs. This allows you to double-purpose every presenter and cut down on volunteer and staff resources. 
  9. Make sure they know the total time they have for their talk, including Q&A. If they have 50 minutes, make certain they have no more than 25 slides to present. 
  10. Obtain a written confirmation of the event audio visual equipment they need. Find out what they are bringing to the conference…exact model of PC or Apple computer, operating system and application software. Put that on the same equipment order as your conference services equipment, noting what the presenter is bringing and what you are renting. Send the entire order to the presenter to sign off on and send a copy of the signed document both to the presenter and AV company. 

AV Event Solutions, an AV conference services organization, is here to help you with your next meeting or event. Check them out on Facebook and get started with their Express Quote process. Don't delay, get started today!