How to Choose the Best
Guest Speakers

Holly Cowley
Holly Cowley

September 21st, 2021

Take your webinar to the next level!

Here at Tell we specialise in all things technical production, however, we are dedicated to elevating all aspects of event planning and production. We want our clients to have the very best events out there! In today’s blog we are focusing on panels and webinars which span multiple industries as a popular structure for events. What this means is that your webinar needs to be jam-packed with the best speakers out there to pull in engaged audiences. After working on a large number of these types of events with a broad range of different clients, we consider ourselves experts on what it means to have the best guest speakers and where to find them.

So, first things first, how can you connect with potential guest speakers?
It is really important in any industry to be constantly building and expanding your network. Of course, COVID has made this difficult with limitations on mixing in-person. However, that doesn't mean connections can’t be made using the resources we have online, such as LinkedIn which is an incredible networking tool. Look through your existing or suggested connections, or try to search for people interested in the same things as you. Scour relevant tags and related groups or forums and reach out to potential parties of interest. It's what LinkedIn is all about! Another great option is connecting with your fellow alumni. Are you a university or college graduate? The likelihood is you have some really capable and successful past peers you can reconnect with. Even alumni from different years will feel more open to collaborating with you if you have both graduated from the same place. Luckily for you, not only are there loads of groups on social media for alums, LinkedIn will also often recommend people if you've both been to the same university or college.

Next, it is important to consider, has the guest speaker you’re lining up got something interesting to say?
It is important to ensure that your lineup of guest speakers are going to intrigue and engage potential audiences enough for them to spend their time and money on your event. So, you must always consider, what is this guest speaker contributing to this event and is it worth sharing? This may mean you invite speakers with slightly controversial opinions to incite discussion and debate. Or, perhaps you enlist rising stars in the industry to propose a new point of view that is yet to be expressed.

No matter who you enlist to speak at your event, you must always take into consideration, what is it that qualifies this person to speak on this topic?
This goes for any webinar as well. Whether it be medical advice, social commentary, or educational content, your speakers must always have the correct qualifications which justify their spot on your panel. This can mean a BA, MA or Phd in a certain subject, or it can mean x amount of years working in a particular field. It could even draw on someone's social context or life experiences. For example, if you were running an event on the effects of earthquakes on a society, having economists, psychologists and scientists is great, but it would be tonedeaf to not also include someone native to an affected society or country to give your audience a richer and more comprehensive view.

Can your guest speaker engage an audience?
Let's be honest, sitting and listening to someone talk for any period of time can be tedious if they’re not a gifted speaker. It could be worth asking potential guest speakers what their comfort level is with guest speaking before enlisting them or even approaching people who you have seen or know to be experienced in delivering speeches or presentations. Will they feel comfortable openly sharing their opinion? Are they able to take and answer questions? Will they be able to speak out instead of constantly referring to their notes? This will be especially important for virtual or hybrid events where your guest speaker's face may be the only visual cue for an audience. You need to be sure that your guest speakers are able to successfully engage your viewers.

Finally, you need to be prepared to ask yourself, why should this person talk at my event?
It is important to be able to sell yourself and your event to potential guest speakers from the very first interaction you have with them. When asking them to present at your event you are essentially asking them to attach their name and reputation to that of your brand or business. Be prepared to answer their questions and express why you think your event will be a success.

Choosing your guest speakers is an important process that takes commitment. The right line up can determine the success of your entire event, or take an already great event to the next level. Including guest speakers not only improves your event but it also gives you the chance to communicate with new and successful people in your industry. Who doesn't love a networking opportunity? When planning the structure, timeline and content of your event, make sure to confirm the best guest speakers you can. Then, when you’re ready, reach out to us here at Tell, and we can help you get your show on the road.