Never underestimate the difficulty that meeting planners face. Their job is to arrange seminars and conferences that are engaging, but also informative; entertaining, but also full of real-world value. What’s more, they need to find speakers who can command attention and provide utility across the board — not just to one person, but to a wide and diverse audience.
That’s easier said than done, and it’s no wonder that meeting planners put a lot of time and work into scouting out speakers. If you’re in that position, let me offer a few recommendations — important qualities to look for in a conference speaker. If you can find someone who checks all these boxes, you’ve got a pretty good shot at having a truly memorable event!
What Great Conference Speakers Have in Common
They expect to be paid. You probably know the old expression, you get what you pay for. Well, if you’re not going to pay anything for your speaker, you can assume it will be someone amateurish and self-serving. Only accept professionals — that is, people who will ask for a paycheck!
They’re social. Your conference speaker should be a thought leader, and in today’s world that means having a robust social media presence — not a gazillion followers per se (as that’s something that’s easy to fake), but a lot of good, timely, relevant content.
They’re tech-savvy. You’re not going to have a good conference event without a strong AV component. You’re just not. Make sure the speaker you choose has a full presentation and asks you questions about your Wi-Fi setup, etc.
They want to know all about the audience. Good presentations are tailored to meet the specific needs of the audience — so if your potential speaker doesn’t ask who he or she will be addressing, that’s a warning sign.
They can prove to you that they’re engaging presenters. References, public speaking certifications, and video from past presentations can all go a long way toward proving their mettle.
They have killer content. The message is always the most important thing, and if your speaker’s suggested topics and talks sound rote or stale, that’s reason enough for you to keep looking elsewhere.
Those are the stipulations I’d make — and of course I’m happy to talk with any event planner about my own qualifications for the job!