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Selecting the Right Speakers for Your NACE Event

Planning the educational programming for a chapter event is a big responsibility. In addition to choosing a subject matter that is equally interesting and valuable to your members, you also need to select a speaker who will do the topic justice by engaging the audience with dialogue and providing them with real, actionable takeaways.

The special events industry boasts a significant amount of on-stage talent with professional speakers ready to share their insights on everything from design trends to SEO strategies. So once you land on the perfect topic for your upcoming chapter event, it’s time to dig into the many choices at your fingertips.

Here are the three considerations to keep in mind as you home in on the perfect speaker.

Review their expertise and industry experience.
More often than not, you can gain a lot of insight into a speaker’s background from their bio. However, I encourage you to also search their name online to see if you can pull up any thought leadership pieces they’ve shared in the industry. Depending on the topic, experience in hospitality and events, as a consultant or in the trenches, may not be a deal breaker but such history is always a benefit.

It’s also worth reviewing their speaking experience to see how much experience they have onstage and the types of audiences they’ve spoken to in the past. If possible, request a few speaking samples from them to gauge their tone and personality. Videos of them onstage, webinar recordings, and even podcast interviews can tell you a lot about a potential speaker.

Implement an onboarding process for speakers.
Too often, speakers are left with little information as they customize their talks and prepare for the event. It’s the chapter’s responsibility to set them up for success! Kick off the partnership with a legal contract that outlines expectations, deliverables, and a payment schedule if applicable.

Once signed, break down the chapter’s audience with the speaker — business owners vs. employees? Weddings vs. corporate? Knowing who they are speaking to will help them tailor their presentation to provide your chapter with the most valuable insights.

While onboarding, collect all of their essential information, including their headshot, company logo, bio, final topic description, and audiovisual requirements.

Always request feedback after the presentation.
Some speakers will hit the mark, while others may leave the audience wanting more. Knowing the difference between the two will allow you to know who’s worth bringing back in the future and who wasn’t quite a fit.

For example, the social media landscape evolves from year to year. If your audience valued the insights from a certain speaker on the subject, it may be worth bringing them back to speak on updates and offer new solutions based on changes in social media.

Wrap up every chapter event with a survey of attendees to gauge the response of the speaker’s presentation and how much the audience learned from the experience. This data will be invaluable as you plan ahead for future speaking engagements!

There is no hard and fast rule that dictates who will be a good fit for your chapter. There are newbie speakers who may become a crowd favorite, and there are seasoned veterans who might flop in front of your audience. The key to selecting the best speakers is to keep a finger on the pulse of your chapter and be diligent in your research before making your final decision.

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Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

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