I was presenting at similar events before I started organising digital marketing conferences. This gives me an unusual perspective being both a speaker and organiser.
Some of the events I spoke at I barely got a brief at all, someone would tell me the time, the place and how long my slot was. Others took a far more hands on approach with lots of meetings and run-throughs before the event.
My preference was somewhere between the two with a strong briefing process but not a time consuming process. What follows are some of the tips that have worked well for me when briefing my speakers that might work well for you.
Distill your advice into one sentence.
I’d like to believe every speaker read through every aspect of my briefings; that they took the time to understand and appreciate them. I know this isn’t the case.
Most of the time they just skim read them.
To compensate for this I always highlight one key sentence that I hope they pick up on.
This will differ from event to event, but for us conferences it’s this one simple idea.
Nobody has ever complained about a talk being too advanced but lots have about it being too basic.
The idea of this is to set the scene and expectations for the talk. Of course there is a danger that this could lead to our speakers pitching the talk at the wrong level, but that rarely happens. Instead it helps them reflect on their talks and helps them decide what to include and what gets left on the editing room floor.
Share examples of talks you like.
There’s a good chance your speakers might not know what a good presentation actually looks like. An easy way to get this message across is to share examples of great talks you’ve had in the past. This helps set a benchmark of quality that can help your speakers know what you’re looking for. And infer what you’re not looking for.
Let them know the context of their talk.
Their talk will be part of a programme and accompanied by other talks. Do all you can to help them understand that context. Help them know where they fit within the day, who’s coming before them and who’s coming afterwards. This should avoid overlap but also help them appreciate the themes and threads you’re hoping will emerge over that day. So the event seems more of a cohesive whole rather than a collection of independent talks.
The better your brief and communication are, the better your speakers are going to do. This is the content of your event. If it’s good you’ll have a great event, if it’s average you won’t. So take the time and help them do the best possible job they can!
Kelvin Newman, Founder– Rough Agenda
Kelvin Newman is the founder and managing director of Rough Agenda, a company with the lofty ambition of helping Digital Marketers do their job a little better, the main way we do this is through the free to attend specialist digital marketing events BrightonSEO, Content Marketing Show, MeasureFest and Biddable World.
Written by: Kelvin Newman