This post offers a comprehensive guide on speaker management for virtual summits, covering everything from speaker selection criteria to the right tools on HeySummit's platform. It also includes insights on pre-event preparation, speaker access and permissions, and critical post-event follow-ups.
Content Contributor, HeySummit
It's a familiar scenario - you're planning your next summit. Title? Check. Theme? Check. Dates? Event management platform? Check! Hopefully it's HeySummit ;)
Up next? Speakers! Finding and securing the right speakers is instrumental to your event's success, so if you're a first time organizer or someone looking for a refresher on speaker management pre and post your summit, you've come to the right place.
It's good to have a goal in mind for your summit - ultimately, what value do you add to your attendees with this event? As an event organizer, you know the audience you're targeting. Make a list of guiding questions to create a speaker profile. This could include:
How specific is your target audience? Would they benefit from a niche talk, or something more general?
How international is your audience? Would your event benefit from speakers representing various markets?
What style of talk would suit them best? A keynote? Breakout sessions that allow for interaction?
Get creative - your next speaker could be anywhere. A leading author in your space, a successful client, podcast hosts, bloggers - the list goes on! Some organizers leverage their own network, and some use their summits as an opportunity to build relationships with speakers. Summits can help boost awareness of their work and business, but much like an in-person conference, fees will vary. Some HeySummiteers with smaller budgets offer perks like all-access passes, attendee email lists (with the right permissions, of course), or commission from having speakers as affiliates. Do note that such perks involve additional steps in your event organization, for example giving speakers tickets to access the summit as an attendee rather than a speaker, or setting up your affiliate program.
It is key that you have a specific date in mind for your event - and that you approach speakers well in advance - so that your speakers can lock down your dates and you can ensure they're available to give their live talk. If your event is pre-recorded and your speakers send in their talks in advance, it can be beneficial for both attendees and speakers if your speaker attends their talk and answers any questions that may come up in the live chat or comments.
Be clear with your expectations of speakers. Have a clear schedule in mind and take into account the entire speaker experience leading up to the event. Essential things like:
Setting the deadline to submit their talk (if their talk is pre-recorded), or the exact date and time to be ready to go 'live' (for live talks)
Getting their talk title/ duration to include on your landing pages and schedule
Sharing best practices to achieve high-quality audio or video from them
Deciding whether they want to contribute to any giveaways you're having, or upload any media files to supplement their talk
Setting up a speaker affiliate program and distributing any marketing materials they can use
It's also important to ensure you're on the same page when it comes to the most important thing - the content! For example, some HeySummiteers provide speakers with guidelines or 'talking points' they'd like their speaker to address. Others like to give them the freedom to prepare the type of talk they feel with fit best with the summit's themes.
If speakers are pressed for time or lack the confidence in writing and recording their talk (they might be used to talking as part of a panel or doing Q & As), you can always offer to do an interview-style talk with them. You provide the prompts, they answer, and you record the whole thing - by taking away the need for quality checks and editing, this can get you a finished product in less than an hour.
You must also consider what aspects of your summit you want your speakers to be able to access and edit. These include:
Editing content of their talk page - their personal bio, photo
Creating offers and giveaways
Editing talk details - title, date
Setting speakers as affiliates
You can edit speakers' permissions by clicking on Content > Speakers > Settings. If you decide to grant them access via a speaker dashboard, they should set their password as soon as you send them their login credentials, and know how to access their Speaker Dashboard.
Advantages of granting access:
Your speakers can access all promotional materials/swipe copy you make available
Your speakers can add and edit their speaker and talk details
Speakers can access their talk for free. This allows speakers to be able to comment under the video, logged in and labeled as the speaker, not just a regular attendee
Speakers can see their affiliate account for your summit
You will have to monitor speakers progress by manually checking if they updated their talk/speaker details
You will have to support your speakers in how to log in and use the Speaker Dashboard which adds to your amount of communication and troubleshooting
We highly recommend running a test event to ensure all the tech works before going 'live'. Many HeySummiteers come up with a video walkthrough or a simple document where they run through the ins and outs of HeySummit and any additional platforms being used throughout the summit, such as video-hosting sites, chat integrations, or networking apps. This would largely depend on whether or not your speakers have a speaker dashboard - so make sure you make this decision early!
Finally, if you have a panel session with attendee input or a live Q & A, ensure you have a few questions prepared in advance in case your audience takes some time to warm up.
Your speakers make your event! Following up with them after the event is essential. You can do this in a variety of ways, for example sending a thank you note, sharing event metrics, or asking for feedback on their experience at your event. These are all useful ways for speakers and event organizers to build a relationship for future events or collaborations.
In your follow-up note, you should also include resources or incentives agreed upon with your speakers - such as email lists. If you set your speakers as affiliates, ensure you've settled all the payouts as HeySummit does not do this automatically.
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