Whether you are holding an in-person event or a virtual event, there are many components that will assist you in working with a guest speaker at an event. From providing a personal liaison for live appearances to an IT representative to help the speaker with their setup for virtual events, speakers will require different approaches for each event format, venue, and program.
Through rigorous preparation, asking the right questions and by aligning event planning teams, speakers, and event production staff well before the event takes place, you will be able to identify expectations for the speaker and the organization. Through strong preparation, you can identify opportunities for the speaker to create more value or find holes within your planning that can disrupt the event. Here are some tips to help with the major things to prepare for when working with a guest speaker at your event.
SHOULD I PROVIDE A LIAISON OR ESCORT FOR THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER ON-SITE AT THE EVENT?
Yes. It is recommended to dedicate each speaker, a liaison or personal escort so that the speaker can have a person to contact upon arrival and go over the program, timetable, and commitments. Having a company representative will assist the speaker to familiarize themselves with the venue, room location, A/V set up, daily agenda, event contributors, production company representatives and meet & greet the event planning team and the executive leadership that the speaker has more than likely met or acquainted with during the booking process.
Having a personal liaison at the event also gives the opportunity for the speaker to ask questions about the organization, audience profile, and history of the event and can be used as a” vibe check” to understand the mood of the audience at the event and what the mood will be as they gather to attend the speaker’s session. There are many components involved in the speaker delivering a great presentation and having a representative to assist the speaker while on-site assures the right process and enables the session to be set up for success.
AUDIO AND VISUAL SET UP AND REQUIREMENTS.
The technical requirements for speakers will vary. Some speakers prefer a lapel microphone while others prefer a handheld mic. Some speakers may have a large slide deck of visual references and other technical speakers may have a collection of statistics to back up their key points displayed as a graph. In all cases and no matter what the situation, the host organization is responsible to research and provide the technical requirements for the speaker. Professional speakers know their materials the best and how they should be displayed to the audience. They will work with the IT & A/V representatives to clearly outline their needs. Here are some of the major technical requirements a speaker may have:
- Projector screen
- Laptop Computer – Mac or Windows – Can be multiple
- USB Flash Drive – Mac or Windows – Can be multiple
- Microphone Type
- Connectors and Convertors for different adaptors and plugins
- Cords for hook ups
- Plug in with extension cord
- Jug/Glass of Water
HOW TO PREPARE THE AUDIO/VISUAL (A/V) REQURIEMENTS FOR A VIRTUAL EVENT?
The technical requirements for virtual motivational speakers and virtual meetings are different than in person events. Virtual speakers and online events set different conditions that can impact the virtual presentation. Some of these factors are conditional set by the virtual software platform you have chosen or the bandwidth and internet speed while onboarding the attendees. Some of the other major factors can be the weather if it affects the internet that day, the room set up for the speaker on the time of day for the presentation and how the speaker will be presenting virtually.
In setting up the technology for the event, it is important to share the virtual link with the speaker at an early stage to make sure they can access the session. We do not recommend that you take control of the speakers slides as this will affect the fluidity of the speakers’ presentation and their ability to engage the audience. It is great to have an IT representative or production company available for the test run meetings, however, be careful on how much “control” you are taking away from the speaker during the session, as professional virtual speakers will be able to know, understand and deliver the presentation the best way they know how which will increase the audience engagement and leave less room for a technical error. We also do not recommend that the speaker supplies the virtual software as the organization will be able to invest and understand the needs and requirements of their attendees, which will limit the possibility of the virtual event being disrupted.
HOW TO DO A VIRTUAL TEST RUN OF THE SOFTWARE WITH THE SPEAKER AND SHOULD I TEST THE SOFTWARE WITH THE SPEAKER BEFORE THE EVENT DATE?
It is recommended to meet with the speaker for two separate virtual test runs of the software – the first session about 14 days away from the event at the same time as the presentation and the second to be about 30 minutes prior to the event taking place. During the virtual test runs you can then test to see how the speaker visually comes across to the audience while testing functions such as the fireside chat boxes, breakout rooms, and slide presentations being delivered by the speaker.
Engaging virtual presentations usually have the speaker set up to be one on one with the camera with a small amount of production for keeping their eyes focused on the camera and now swaying off to the side to look at their reference points throughout the presentation. Good virtual speakers will have done a lot of research prior to the event to understand the needs of the organization and for whom they will be presenting. Great virtual speakers will already be familiar with the content that will resonate best with the audience and have a strong understanding of the online platform (MS TEAMS or ZOOM) that you have chosen to work with.
WILL THE SPEAKERS DO MORE THAN JUST PRESENTING THE PRESENTATION? WILL THEY ATTEND A MEAL OR RECEPTION INCLUDED IN THE FEE?
Most keynote presenters will participate in functions, meetings, luncheons, or dinners beyond before or after their speech. This varies per speaker as it will depend on their travel to other events as well as how “formal” any additional commitments are. Some speakers may charge for meet and greet sessions, book signings and photo opportunities however most are flexible unless they are a celebrity speaker. Most presentations have an audience Q&A session after the presentation however it is great to have the speaker available to attendees in case, they would like to meet them in person and ask them a more personal question. All session commitments and requests for the speaker should be outlined to the speaker before the booking and agreed/approved in advance of the event and included in the contract.
DO THE SPEAKERS BUREAU OF CANADA’S MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKERS ALLOW VIDEO RECORDINGS, LIVESTREAM, OR VIDEOTAPING WITH AUDIO OF THEIR PRESENTATION?
Most professional speakers will approve recording for the organizations internal archive; however, every speaker has their own way to approach video recordings at the event. Speakers approve virtual events recordings for the participants who could not make it to the session. There is a chance that speakers may want to charge for livestreams or recordings if the video host organizations would like to use the video for training newly hired staff members or if the video recording ends up on social media. In all cases and situations, you must seek permission from the speaker before recording of any kind. Speakers Canada can negotiate recordings with speakers in most cases, as our agreements usually protect them if there is any breach of the conditions set to outline how the recording will be utilised after the event.
IS IT GOOD TO ARRANGE FOR THE SPEAKER’S BOOKS TO BE AVAILABLE TO ATTENDEES AT THE EVENT?
Speakers Canada’s professional speakers and guest speakers often have best selling books or books that compliment their presentations. Having the speakers books available to attendees at the event is an effective strategy to hold a meet, greet with the speaker, and engages attendees to the session. We can also put you in touch directly with the speakers publisher to purchase a bulk order number of copies for each attendee. Having the speakers book available is an added value for the speaker and the audience. Speakers Canada will ensure and guarantee that you have access to the most cost-effective source for securing bulk orders for large quantities of books to access a wholesale price per copy, authored by our speakers. We can also arrange for a local bookseller to be on site and handle book sales on behalf of the speaker at the event. Having a book available as a door prize or gift bag is also another wonderful way to offer each attendee a bonus at the event.
HAVING SPEAKERS COLLECT FEEDBACK FROM THEIR PRESENTATION FOR YOU VS COLLECTING THE FEEDBACK YOURSELF
Event planning teams and organizations will have a huge benefit of measuring the impact from each speaker at their event. By collecting the data, comments and ratings, the organization would learn if they planned the event correctly and if the speaker was able to execute on the desired outcomes proposed by the leaders and the speaker incorporated into their presentation. Collecting the data can be shared with future event organizers, speakers, and event attendees, to drive new ideas and approaches to future events.
Many speakers have forms, surveys and sign ups on their websites which can be also used to gather the audience information and the feedback of their session. Event planning teams can benefit from receiving the feedback from attendees to help test and measure the success of the speakers presentation and the event itself. This process can take time and each organization usually has their own approach…as do speakers.
Much like the event planner requires the feedback, so does the speaker. If you are working with a speakers bureau, they will also be interested to see how the event went. The major benefit of the speaker collecting feedback on behalf of the organization is they will want to connect with audience members after the event. With speakers following up and connecting directly with participants, the attendees can and will ask personal questions or to discuss the unique challenges they have to tap into the speakers experience and expertise. They may not want the organization to tell the organizers regarding this issue which may limit their ability to learn and grow from the speakers knowledge. The organizing team will also be able focus on other things as the speaker collects the data.