Finding and organizing speakers can be more frustrating than imaginable at times, but you cannot have a successful event without them. You will need to communicate with your speakers constantly, outlining how the event will unfold, when the training and dry runs will occur, etc. Keep up with communications and everything will come together.

The key to managing your event speakers is to be well prepared and provide a solid structure for them to follow. Listed below are the key steps for which you need to clearly outline and provide deadlines:

Step 1: Kick-Off Call

All speakers must be in attendance during this initial call. The focus of this call is to discuss an event topic, decide who will be presenting and what, as well as how the event will flow.

Make sure you cover:

  • Schedule/Due dates – Required presentations, rehearsal, technology training, touchbase call, and live event.
  • Items you need for promotions – Pictures, bios, titles, logos, etc.
  • Discuss the technology you will be using and the features the speakers will have when using the technology.
  • Give presentation guidelines, such as keeping slides simple and the number of slides speakers are allowed.

Step 2: Technology Training

Provide training for those who are not familiar with the technology you are using for your event. Your vendor should provide this training.

Step 3: Presentations

Drafts should be turned in one week before the rehearsal, and final slides are two days before the rehearsal.

  • Review speaker content (Confirm presentation against objectives/messages).
  • Review any special slides, video, or audio?
  • Insert any polling questions.
  • Develop the end-strategy – Survey? Downloads? Drive to Web site?
  • Review presentation graphics.
  • Discuss any changes with speaker(s).
  • Submit presentation to technology vendor.
  • Test presentations in the technology.

Step 4: Rehearsal

The rehearsal should be about one week before the live event. Thus you will have time to make adjustments, if necessary. Below are some pointers for your event rehearsal:

  • Schedule the rehearsal for the same time of day as the live event and get everyone used to that time.
  • Send out the rehearsal access information at least one day in advance or your speakers will feel uninformed.
  • Ensure that everyone has tested his or her access information hours before the rehearsal so this does not delay your start.
  • Reserve and set-up all rooms and equipment. Ideally, the rehearsal should mimic the live event. Hold it in the same room(s) with actual equipment, test attendee dial-in, run through the presentations, practice Q&A with the operator, etc. Get the rehearsal environment as close as possible to the live-event environment. Plan for the worst.
  • Make sure all speakers will be on handsets or headsets.
  • Set up a modem/dial-up so you can test the presentation on a slow connection. Make sure you cover the following during the rehearsal:
    • Finalize event flow – Discuss the flow and transitions between presentations.
    • Finalize content for welcome or lobby slides that attendees will see before the event starts.
    • Test any high-bandwidth components such as video or Flash (check this on the modem machine you have dialed in.)
    • Finalize all polls.
    • Define the Q&A and chat processes.
    • Define the Incentive/Drawing processes.
    • Finalize the end-strategy – Going to a survey? Surfing to a Web page? Leaving up a contact slide? Etc.?

Step 5: Touch-Base Call

This call is held two hours before your event and is very valuable. Your call will allow everyone to do a final review of the slides, make sure nothing was destroyed during file transfer, calm everyone down (presenting in the virtual world can be unsettling), and enable you to make sure everyone remembers the event date.

Step 6: Live Event

You should dial in about 30 minutes before the event to touch base with the operator and be available in case anyone is having difficulties. Your speakers and support team should dial in approximately 15 minutes before the event begins.

Step 7: Debrief

Have the operator put the speakers and support team into a sub-conference after the event so you can do a quick de-brief while it the event details are still fresh.

Tips for working with speakers:

  • Have ALL pertinent contact information – Office, cell, home.
  • Know your speakers’ assistants and befriend them.
  • Know if anyone is techno-phobic and give them special attention.
  • Push them to use the various features of the e-conferencing tool.
  • Know group dynamics – How do they relate to each other? Who is in charge? Anything about which you need to be sensitive?