Preparing Industry Speakers

Inviting industry experts to speak at your events is a useful way to provide your organization and attendees practical takeaways from people who have walked in their shoes. We share this story to illustrate the importance of systematically preparing these people to help ensure they do the job.

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Today I want to share a story about a speech—a speech that I gave. An industry association invited me to speak at their event. After accepting and signing on the dotted line, the next step was asking the organizer what they wanted the presentation to be about. Several calls and emails later, there was no answer. So through other means, I went around and figured out the purpose of the gathering and what they wanted me to discuss.

The day of the event, about 5 minutes before my turn to present, the guy that invited me rushed into the room and said, “Hey, I never told you what I wanted you to talk about! What are you going to talk about?” My response was, “Why don’t you wait around and see?” He stayed for the speech, and he was happy. The audience was happy, and all went well. But it went well because of investigation on the part of the speaker.

About half the times I’ve been invited to speak at an event, the organizer does not share what they want me to accomplish with the session. It takes some digging on my part.

When you invite industry experts to speak at your event, don’t leave it to chance that their message is going to be appropriate for your audience or event objectives.

Always tell your speaker the purpose of the event and why they were invited. Share information about the audience and demographics. Give them a very clear target to make sure that their presentation accomplishes your event objectives.

Secondly, provide your industry speakers with an opportunity to improve their presentation—some sort of a coach or an online tool. Skillshare has all sorts of public speaking classes that people can take. Make sure that the appointed person is going to be up to the task.

Industry speakers often share what nobody else can give your attendees. It’s wise to put some time and effort into telling them what you want them to do, and also give them educational opportunities to make sure that they deliver a high quality product at your event.

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