The No. 1 question meeting planners ask speakers is "Is your fee negotiable?" The least asked question is "How can we make this session successful?" Unfortunately, that's the one that's most important.
I know you're busy thinking about other things, so here's a quick cheat sheet on how to help your speakers develop more captivating educational sessions.
Step 1: Embed your goals in your call for proposals
Why send out a general call for proposals if you know exactly what you want to achieve in your educational sessions? Sharing your goals for educational topics, audience engagement and method of delivery will increase the quality of your potential talent pool.
For example, list the kinds of sessions you're looking for at the top of the application so speakers can explain how their content fits into those parameters. Want to make sessions more interactive? Ask speakers to outline what percentage of time they will spend on lecture, group activity, Q&A, discussion, etc., in their proposals.
Step 2: Do your homework
Did you collect speakers' references? Call them. Watch videos of the speaker in action. Read articles they've written. Then talk with them about what you want to achieve and how they can help you achieve it.
Help speakers customize their content for your group. Include a relevant question attendees are required to answer on the event registration form. (If it's not mandatory, no one will fill it in.) Then share that information before the event with the speaker so they can address those concerns and provide specific solutions during their session.
Step 3: Keep communications simple
Let there be one point of contact for your speaker. Even if you have to plan by committee, make one person the information funnel. And deliver that information in a timely manner. You want speakers to concentrate on delivering a killer session. You don't want to distract them by forcing them to wonder where they need to submit receipts, what their hotel reservation number is, who they're supposed to call if there's an issue or how they're supposed to get to your event.
Bonus tip: Be inclusive
Make it easy for your speakers to interact with your audience before and after the event. Have a conference hashtag? Let speakers know and share their Twitter handle with your audience. Tell them where your conference lives on Instagram, Facebook and other social networks so they can engage attendees and share information with them. Ask if they'd be able to do a pre-show webinar, blog or online Q&A. Invite them to the opening night reception or other social activities happening around their session so they can get a feel for your group. And let them know how they can keep the conversation they start going after the event ends.
Curious to know more? Here are 9 tips our friends at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting and Tagoras would like you to keep in mind when you book speakers. Or follow the #yaypym hashtag and let us know your thoughts.