Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Guest speakers will make or break your event. The ones you choose can help you increase visibility and attractiveness to grow an engaged community.
The event speakers you choose for your event will also be your advocate. They will represent your brand, so you must make some research about them to ensure they share your culture.
In this post, we explore:
- Why are speakers important to the success of your event?
- How to choose the right guest speaker for your event
- How to invite experts to your event
- Where to find guest speakers willing to collaborate
- How much do guest speakers cost?
- 10 Questions to ask event speakers
The positive impact your guest speaker can have on your audience goes from the number of attendees you get at your event, to the amount of engagement and inspiration the speaker generates in the audience. Keep reading to discover how to plan a successful expert-led event!
Why are Guest Speakers Important to the Success of Your Event?
Most online communities organize events with industry experts who lead Q&A sessions, workshops, and seminars. Or just share with the audience success experiences and stories. So if you’re a community builder seeking to find the perfect guest speaker, you’ll have to make some research.
Guest speakers are fundamental in the making of a successful event because:
💪 With a good guest speaker, you’ll attract more attendees.
✨ They will help you set the tone of the event, making it memorable -or not- to your audience.
🙌 They will be the ones to engage, entertain, and educate the audience with their knowledge.
🤲 They will inspire the audience, and drive positive change.
How to Choose the Right Guest Speaker for Your Event
When choosing the right person to participate in your event, you’ll have to take some things into account. Among them, are the level of knowledge these people have, and how relevant are they to your audience.
These two characteristics of your guest speaker must be within the framework of delivering a great experience to your attendees. Always take into account which industry your community is immersed in.
Maybe you’ll love to have a certain guest speaker at your event. But they don’t go along with your audience’s vibe!
Industry Thought Leaders
Your guest speakers must be industry thought leaders and referents. People who have something new to say to your audience and from whom your attendees can learn. Industry leaders are those who have a leadership position both inside their tech companies or startups and outside. That saying, in the industry they work in. They are professionals who serve as a guide for those new to it or interested in the topic.
Relevance to the Audience
At this point, you’ll have to ask some questions. And make sure you know who’s your target audience. And what’s the main thing that’s appealing to them about your event. There’s no point in choosing the perfect guest speaker for you. Think about your attendees and who they would like to see and hear.
What are they looking for by attending your event?
Are they looking for a motivational speaker or to learn new stuff about the industry?
Do they want someone who can tell them a story? Or do they want hard data, such as facts, figures, and statistics?
💡 Look on social media for someone who has plenty of followers, such as an influencer, who will share your event’s invitation and promote the event!
In-Person, Virtual or Hybrid Event?
Another thing to take into account when choosing the right guest speaker is the kind of event you’ll be organizing. Each type of event is a completely different experience. So it’s essential to choose the right person for each one of them.
For example, when having a hybrid event, you should offer your online audience something to feel involved in the hybrid experience! That’s why the key to building engagement with the virtual audience is interactivity. So it’s essential to find a speaker that likes and knows how to interact with the audience.
Also, in hybrid events, you’ll need to choose if the speakers are going to present live or virtually. Live speakers are a good option if you’re expecting more in-person attendees. However, this can increase the costs. Either way, it’s important not to ignore your virtual audience.
How to Invite Guest Speakers
Guest speakers are usually experts in the topic or industry on which your event will focus. However, according to online community management specialist Richard Millington, there are three types of experts:
1️⃣ Partners, consultants, and freelancers.
2️⃣ Industry veterans.
3️⃣ Senior executives and VPs.
And according to each kind of expert, there are different channels they prefer to communicate and share their expertise. Millington states that partners, consultants, freelancers, and industry veterans are most likely to share their knowledge at events such as webinars or conference talks. Senior executives and VPs will most likely speak in invite-only gatherings and private groups.
With that in mind, you’re ready to establish conversations with these experts and invite them to your community’s events as guest speakers. These are some networking strategies that can work 👇
Connect via LinkedIn
Think about that event you went to where there was a speaker that impressed you. Also, you can check other conferences and webinars, and choose a speaker that you like. The same with TED Talks and similar platforms. After choosing a few potential speakers you’d like to have at your event, look for them on social media, specifically on LinkedIn.
Speak to Them
If you can’t meet your potential guest speakers in person, you might at least have a conversation via Zoom. This will give you the possibility to know them better, and decide if they’re the right fit for your event.
Networking is key to finding the perfect guest speaker and carrying out a successful event. When joining online groups and communities, you’ll be able to connect and network with plenty of experts.
Where to Find Guest Speakers Willing to Collaborate
There are plenty of options both in-person and online where you can meet guest speakers who’re willing to collaborate with you and your community. However, a great option is directories within communities. Many online groups have directories with members where each one has a bio. There, they share their specialty and expertise.
You can use these communities to connect with experts! For example, if you’re searching for SEO experts, you can look in SEO communities and forums for industry thought leaders that would love to participate in your event.
As we mentioned previously, you can also go back and think about those speakers that left a great impression on you at other events and try contacting them. Another way is to ask your peers and colleagues to recommend to you an expert that they think will be the right fit for your event.
Just make sure the person you ask for a referral is somebody you can trust, and that shares your community’s criteria!
Participate in similar events and conferences to find out which experts and guest speakers your competition is booking. Last but not least, you can get help from agencies and platforms that bring together a variety of speakers, such as SpeakerHub or Big Speak.
How Much Do Guest Speakers Cost?
You might’ve found the perfect guest speaker, but when planning an event it’s essential to stay on the budget. So, firstly, you have to establish a budget for speakers inside the larger budget regarding the whole event.
Sometimes it can be hard to find a person that’s right for your audience and within your budget limits. That’s why it’s helpful to hire them through an agency.
However, how much speakers cost depends a lot on the person and on the type of event you’re carrying out. Let’s say, virtual speakers can reduce costs, mainly due to speaker fees and accommodations.
But presenting a virtual guest speaker to your audience can also be a struggle. So if it’s a virtual speaker, it’s important to have someone on your team moderating the live chat. And directing the attendees’ questions to the speaker.
10 Questions to Ask a Guest Speaker
#1 When did you decide that this was what you wanted to do professionally?
#2 What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned during your professional journey?
#3 How has the [industry they work in] changed in the last 5 years?
#4 Where do you think we’ll be in the next 2 to 5 years?
#5 Can you tell us one person that’s making a drastic and positive change in the [industry]?
#6 What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone just starting in the [industry]?
#7 What’s the most interesting trend of 2022?
#8 What’s the biggest challenge in the [industry] at the moment?
#9 Which soft skills should someone in your field or industry have?
#10 Could you tell us one word that sums up your vision for the [industry]?
If you’re looking for more ideas, connect with fellow community builders and network with potential guest speakers for your event in online groups for community builders.