As an event coordinator, you need to make sure that each piece flows seamlessly so that your event is successful.
One variable that may require extra time and effort is an event speaker. However, now that virtual and hybrid events are part of the new normal, how can you help your event speakers navigate the various technical challenges?
Fortunately, the process is a bit easier than you might expect. This article will discuss the best practices to employ when preparing your event speakers. No matter what type of event you're coordinating, these tips can come in handy. Here's what you need to know.
When to Use Event Speakers
Not all events can benefit from having a live speaker. However, the success of some gatherings hinges upon finding the right speaker. Here are some examples of when you need a high-quality event speaker:
Panel forums can add value to various events, from pop culture conventions to industry-related events. In this case, panelists can provide unique insights that the audience won't get from anywhere else. Panels can be small and intimate with two or three speakers, or you can have a massive panel discussion with 10 or more people.
With panel forums, you need to establish clear ground rules and expectations, particularly when panelists discuss and debate amongst themselves. Usually, it's necessary to have a moderator to ensure the discussion goes smoothly and doesn't veer wildly off-topic.
While a panel discussion offers an educational aspect to any event, keynote speakers are often the primary selling point of the event. You can build an event out of a single speaker or host multiple ones to speak in succession or simultaneously. In this case, preparing your speakers is much easier because you don't have to worry as much about the flow of an event. Typically, the only time to use a moderator is if you're hosting a Q&A session too.
Event hosts and emcees are unique compared to panelists or keynote speakers. Usually, the host informs and entertains the audience throughout the event. Still, you need to ensure they know what they're doing and how the event will flow. Since the host controls the pacing, they need to have intimate knowledge of everything that's happening at any given time.
How to Invite Speakers to an Event
Once you know the type of event you're planning, the next step is to invite high-quality speakers. But, how can you bring on top talent for your event? Here are the steps to follow:
- Step One: Do Your Research - Before inviting anyone, you should determine if they're a good fit for your event. For example, have they spoken at other similar events before? What value can they add to the proceedings? Do they have a large following you can tap into for marketing? Another point to consider is if they're adept at public speaking. You want to avoid a situation where your speaker freezes on stage (or on camera).
- Step Two: Send an Invite - If you're coordinating many of these events, it helps to build your own invitation template. You should personalize the invitation and describe what attracted you to them. Here is where your research comes in handy, as you can explain where you saw them and what you liked. If you're paying your speakers, put the rate front and center, or ask them for their standard rate. If you're looking for volunteers, pitch them on the value of your event and why they should participate.
- Step Three: Look for Backups - Even if your event speakers agree to attend, variables can get in the way. For example, what if a speaker gets sick the day before? Having a backup list ensures you don't have to cancel the entire event and issue refunds. However, give your A-list some time to respond before sending out secondary invitations.
- Step Four: Hammer Out Details - Ideally, you can set up a call or video chat with your speaker to discuss details and answer any questions they have. If possible, you should coordinate multiple calls to outline these logistics. However, if you can only get one session with your speaker before the event, make sure to address all concerns and details at once. Write a list and go through it line by line.
How to Prepare Your Event Speakers
Since live, hybrid, and virtual events require fundamentally different logistics, you need to take unique approaches to speaker preparation. So, let's break down the best practices for each event type.
Virtual Event Speakers
Usually, this option is the most challenging because it's the most technology-dependent. Some speakers may be familiar with using video conferencing software, while others might be brand new. Ideally, your event tech can handle most of the specific details, but you still have to run through logistics with your speaker, including:
- Their A/V Setup - What devices will your speaker use during the event? Are they on a laptop or desktop computer? How is their mic and speaker setup? Do they have trouble hearing you talk or vice versa? Will they need to share any music or videos with sound? Typically, speakers should wear a headset during the event to smooth out any potential sound issues. However, if they don't want to go that route, they must consider environmental elements like background noise or echoes.
- Interactions - Will your speaker interact with other speakers during the event? Are you hosting a Q&A session with them? Either way, you need to ensure that they know how to interact on a virtual event platform. Do they know how to mute and unmute themselves? Also, will you allow questions or interactions in the chat? All of these elements have to be ironed out beforehand.
- Visual Aids - Ideally, if your speaker needs to share visual elements, your event tech can handle those details. This way, speakers don't have to interrupt themselves to resolve any technical issues.
Hybrid Event Speakers
Hybrid events are becoming more popular because they offer so much flexibility for guests. However, on the logistical side of things, hybrid events bring the challenges of both virtual and in-person gatherings. If your speaker is attending virtually, the prep work should be the same as above. However, some hybrid-specific preparations can include:
- Cross Interactions - Realistically, some attendees will be virtual, and some will be in-person. Are you allowing them to interact with the speaker and ask questions in both cases? If so, how will you address questions on both sides of the event? For example, will a moderator hand a mic to those at the venue while virtual attendees can use their own A/V setup?
- Multiple Speakers - If you're hosting multiple speakers and not all of them are in the same location, you need to figure out how to coordinate them virtually and in person. For example, if you're hosting a panel discussion, will you use a monitor in place of a person sitting next to the other panelists? Will virtual speakers be able to hear and interact the same way as those onsite? Ideally, you can practice this setup beforehand so that everyone knows what to expect.
In-Person Event Speakers
Hosting an in-person event is often the easiest option for live speakers. However, it's still necessary to prep your speakers, mainly if they haven't spoken at a similar event before. Some points to consider include:
- Stage Setup - Will your speaker use visual aids or props during their presentation? Will you have panelists sitting side-by-side or behind tables? Will speakers share a mic, or will everyone have their own headset or handheld? Will speakers be able to see the audience or just hear attendees when they ask questions?
- Moderator - If you're hosting multiple speakers, a moderator helps ensure the discussion stays on target. So, the speakers should learn the rules beforehand and meet the moderator to know what to expect.
- Sound and Acoustics - Ideally, your speaker will be hooked up with a microphone. However, if you don't have one or your sound system goes down, will they still be able to present?
Tips and Tricks for Making Your Event Speakers More Successful
We've outlined event-specific preparations, but there are some general best practices to follow as well, including:
- Time Limits - Each speaker should have a set timeframe to speak, with a small buffer on either side to account for delays. For example, what if one speaker runs long and cuts into another speaker's time? How can you mitigate or prevent this problem?
- Rehearsals - If possible, you should do a full dress rehearsal with your speakers before the event. This way, they can know what to expect, including the flow of the event. Rehearsals also allow speakers to change anything to make their time run smoother.
- Breaks - If you're hosting an event that lasts several hours, speakers will need bathroom and snack breaks. Be sure to build these into the program, and have plans for unexpected breaks. For example, what if a speaker has to pee before the next intermission?
6Connex Virtual, Hybrid, and In-Person Event Tech
Hosting a virtual or hybrid event can be challenging if you don't have the right software. Fortunately, 6Connex is the best option for these event types because they're scalable and easy to use. Onboarding your event speakers is a breeze, thanks to the user-friendly design and high-tech capabilities. For more information on how 6Connex can handle your event needs, request an event platform demo or contact us today!