Speakers and presenters are being asked to do a lot more than just shine up and show up at the time you have scheduled them in your program. Hopefully, your speakers will increase attendance because your prospective attendees recognize their names or are interested in their topics. Why not take it a step further and ask them to help you promote your event and increase engagement at the event?
Prepare your speakers before you even choose them. Starting with the call for proposals, ask potential speakers if they would be willing to record a video before the event and if they would be willing to be recorded during their session. Ask for twitter handles and other social media profiles to see which ones are accustomed to engaging attendees with these platforms.
Short videos from speakers and presenters provide great content to help you promote the meeting or event. A great speaker will start conversations with attendees via social media channels (groups and hashtags) before the event so they can get to know the audience and start answering their questions. Invite them, individually or a few at a time, to a Google+ hangout where you can interview them. Potential attendees can participate, view live or watch an archived version later.
If you are planning a virtual or hybrid event, then clearly, your speakers will need to give their permission to be recorded or broadcast. However, depending on the level of engagement you wish to create with a virtual audience, you’ll need to find out how much experience they have speaking to a virtual audience. You’ll want to consider adding a virtual audience liaison to field questions from the virtual platform or social media channels.
Whether or not you provide your speakers with a template for their presentations, you can ask them to include the conference hashtag on their slides. This helps encourage attendees to share what they are learning during your event. If you have someone monitoring the hashtag from each session, it could also be used for questions from the audience. Your introverts in the audience will appreciate a way to participate without raising their hands. An audience response system can be implemented if you have several presenters who are willing to work with you on polling, Q&A and surveys.
List your speakers’ twitter handles wherever you have their information listed in your program, mobile app, etc. Your savvy tweeters will want to use proper etiquette and give your speakers credit for the good information they are learning from them. The easier it is for them to find this information, the happier they will be.
Your speakers and presenters can be a great asset when it comes to promoting the meeting or event and creating an engaging environment for your attendees. Make sure that you communicate your goals and objectives before and during the contract phase of the relationship so that they are prepared to help you instead of doing you a favor.
Written by: Colleen Donnelly