The events industry is constantly evolving, and conference professionals want to stay on the edge of innovation when it comes to selecting speakers and event entertainment. Out-of-the-box designs or trending keynotes can “wow” your audience, but before jumping into a new fad, it is important to first determine what would truly align with your event’s purpose. How do you provide a unique experience, while also ensuring your conference entertainment and education are relevant to your event’s goals? Here are some important considerations when booking speakers or entertainment for conferences and events.
Keynote and Speaker
- Know your objectives for the meeting, and make sure your vendor partners know them as well.
- Reward and recognize
- Do you want your keynote speaker to be popular and well-liked?
- Do you want your entertainment to be fun and for people to participate?
- Purely educational
- Do you want your keynote speaker to bring best business practices that apply to your attendees’ day-to-day needs?
- Entertainment should typically be a little more low-key.
- Have a good base of speaker bureau contacts and create relationships with them.
- Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. There have been many times where I was told a speaker wasn’t available and another agency was able to get them for me for the exact same dates.
- Make sure your speaker contact knows the purpose and goal for your meeting.
- They can serve you better when they know what you’re trying to accomplish.
- Anyone can throw out “popular” names, but does it really apply to the business need or message you are relaying for that program?
- What do you want your participants to “think, feel, do” during your business sessions and evening events?
- Does your speaker help accomplish that?
- Make sure your speaker also represents what it is you are trying to accomplish as a firm. Examples may include:
- Giving back
Entertainment and Décor
When working with a destination management company (DMC), think about what their day-to-day is and how many proposals they’re rolling out to different clients. If you want them to offer something special for your group, then it’s up to YOU to make sure they’re educated on the purpose of the meeting or event and what you’re trying to accomplish.
- Don’t just send in a request for a request for proposal (RFP). Instead, have a conversation with them on the phone.
- Do you want it upscale and elegant?
- Do you want it more fun and like a party?
- Do you want seated or on a flow?
- Is it an awards dinner?
- Do you want to offer an experience, or activities?
One of the most important things I’ve learned in selecting speakers is that you know you can’t have it all, so you need to prioritize the above bullet points based on the priorities of the firm. Try to check as many boxes as you can, but don’t put someone on stage just because it “looks good” (i.e. diverse, popular, etc.). At the end of the day, you want to make sure the message resonates with your attendees, keeps them engaged and provides them with a take-away when they leave your program that they can apply to their practice or in their everyday lives.
VP, Conference Experiences