You’ve spent months choosing the perfect event speakers, promoting those speakers to your attendees and potential attendees, and ensuring they have everything they need to lead a memorable workshop. One area you might not have visited yet is prepping these event speakers before the big day. It sounds simple, but it is a step that many event planners overlook.
Confirm, Confirm, Confirm
Planning an event, whether it is a single day or across multiple days, takes a lot of planning. It is easy to forget minor details until they become big details that need fixed. Instead of talking to your event speakers once or twice, set up a specific schedule to make sure everything is in place and will run smoothly on the event day.
- During the initial agreement for speaker to come, repeat the date of the event several times.
- Send out a follow-up email that you have them scheduled to speak on such and such day about their chosen topic.
- Touch base 90 days before the event to either arrange or confirm travel plans, depending upon whether you are paying for travel or not. Confirm the date again.
- Send an email requesting a list of any materials or equipment the speaker will need around this same time.
- Follow-up until you have the list.
- 30-40 days before the event, touch base with the speaker, confirming that they are still attending and repeating the list of items/equipment they need. This is also a good time to send event agenda info.
- Two weeks before the event, send out another email telling the speaker you’re excited about the upcoming workshop and that you’ll see them at the event, repeat the event date and the time if you have it.
Make note of travel details. Many speakers either arrange their own travel and get reimbursed or pay for it on their own. This generally isn’t an issue for local speakers, but big keynote speakers may need to be flown in and will expect your organization to pay for costs.
It is important that you have the following information in case a speaker goes missing and you have to track him or her down or figure out a fill-in at the last minute:
- Flying or driving? Which airline, flight number?
- What time is the speaker arriving?
- Will he or she need help bringing in any props or other items?
VIP Registration for Event Speakers
It is important that your event speakers don’t stand in line waiting to register. Most of them are there to share their knowledge with your event attendees more so than learning anything new themselves. Take the time to pre-register them before the big day so they can just arrive, talk to their point of contact (more on this below) and settle in.
This streamlined registration can be particularly important for big name speakers, who might get mobbed if forced to register in a lobby of a hotel, for example.
Invites to Top Parties/Gatherings
Be sure that your speakers have invitations to all the top parties and gatherings going on during the conference/event. Third parties often host these parties, so just dropping them a list of your speakers and asking that they consider inviting them would be the best course of action. You can’t really control what third parties do, but it makes sense that they’d want the experts at their gatherings. It is then the speaker’s decision if he or she wants to attend, but the invitations will make them feel included and welcomed to the event.
Point of Contact
One thing that is extremely important if you want to make your event speakers feel welcome is to have a central point of contact for that person. You can have more than one person fulfilling this role, but the same person should work with the same speaker throughout if at all possible.
The point of contact should be the person who confirms travel plans, ensures the speaker has what he or she needs, and follows up to make sure this is all in place. The point of contact can be there to welcome the speaker, make sure he or she has a name badge and other necessary materials and even to sit with the speaker and introduce him or her to others.
Essentially, the point of contact serves as a liaison for speakers. It is best that the point of contact does not have a central role, such as organizer, because you want the focus to be on the speaker and helping the speaker have the best experience possible at your event.
Landing some of the biggest names in your industry isn’t easy. Once you do, you’ll want to ensure they come back and again and again because of the wonderful experience they’ve had at your event.