Selecting a Speaker
Understanding the various protocol and etiquette guidelines in selecting the right speaker is critical to achieving your overall mission and creating the best impact for your annual convention, meeting or retreat. Youth conferences offer a special opportunity to impress upon our future leaders the importance of a strong foundation and to equip them with tools for their success. Oftentimes, planners in the faith-based market are providing essential skills that otherwise might be overlooked. So, beyond seeking a speaker who will entice your audience, thereby building attendance, what important factors do you need to keep in mind if you also want to engage youth and stay mission-focused?
Here are five proactive steps to take when selecting the perfect speaker for your event:
1. Create a clear roadmap.
Be sure to review the overall theme, mission and desired outcome for the event with your program committee. Do you have specific learning goals? Do you want to motivate or encourage your attendees? Are you looking for a feel-good speaker or a results-oriented speaker? You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, would you?
2. Create a speaker RFP (Request for Proposal).
Most planners have heard about sending a request for proposal to a hotel, but did you know you could send a request for proposal to your speaker as well? Speakermatch.com is a wonderful site where you can post your speaker criteria and the system will search the database for a list of speakers that match your requirements.
3. Check references.
Speakers will have testimonials on their media kits and websites from past events. Request that they send you a list of six people you can call for a personal phone reference. When they give you the list, be sure to call the last three on the list. This will ensure that you are getting a true assessment, since most people will list the best references first.
4. Do more research.
Be sure to do a Google search on your prospective speakers. Look for anything questionable that might negatively affect your event. Look at what others have said on various social media sites. (Point your browser to google.com and put the speakers name in parenthesis.) If you find anything of concern, you can bring that up with the speaker prior to signing a contract.
5. Review the contract with the speaker.
Once you have found the right speaker, you need a contract. Much like booking your hotel or event venue, the contract is essential to understanding the fiduciary responsibilities of both signing parties. Some contract items to consider include: deposits, cancellation fees, rebooking clauses, recording parameters, materials, travel expenses, payment terms and more. (Read “Getting the Essentials in Speaker Contracts” at RejuvenateMeetings com.) Finally, be sure to interview the speaker. Talk with him or her and listen to your inner voice before making your final decision. If you have done all the preliminary work, but still have questions, perhaps another speaker is a better fit.
Dallas Teague Snider is a business etiquette expert and founder of Make Your Best Impression. For a free special report, “Cultivating Influence and Loyalty with Clients and Colleagues,” visit makeyourbestimpressioncom/report.