6 Tips for Organizing Your Next Conference Keynote
Written by Sara Carter, AKA Ms. Digital Diva.
Planning a speaking event takes a lot of hard work and preparation. From booking speakers to advertising the event, there are so many things that require attention. No matter your audience or guest speakers, here are some tips for organizing your next keynote speech event.
Secure The Right Speakers
When starting to plan an event, it is extremely important that you secure a speaker who resonates with the audience. Speakers should be well-versed in the topic and also able to capture the targeted community’s interest.
If the event is for tech enthusiasts or business owners, invite someone of stature and authority, like a CEO or company president. For example, Oracle’s CEO Mark Hurd is well-versed in the role of technology in the business industry, and his speaking style appeals to this crowd. Hurd often takes the approach of a talk show host and sits behind a desk, talking about why cloud computing is important for business. The tech and business community is drawn to this conversational style.
On the other hand, you might want to have a more upbeat and entertaining speaker if your audience is there for a more creative topic. Andrew Grant, the CEO of Tirian, is very animated and puts on a show to get his message across. In his speeches, which are based on his book Who Killed Creativity, he incorporates the audience by using volunteers and magic tricks. Those who are in a more creative field are more engaged with this type of performance. Keep this in mind when planning keynote events, and your audience will seamlessly connect to the speaker on stage.
Follow Up Often
During the months leading up to the event, you want to check in with your speakers to make sure they have everything they need. Double check that they are booked near the venue, that they have their speeches finished, and if there are multiple presenters, that there is enough variance between their topics. If you’ve ever spoken at an event, one of the worst feelings is hearing the speaker before you “steal” all of your talking points. You and your presenters will be happy you took the initiative to prevent this from happening.
Set Realistic Expectations
Before the event, give your keynote speakers a realistic idea of what their experience will be like. Prepare them ahead of time for what to expect when they walk through the doors so that they won’t be overwhelmed or disappointed. Depending on the other events these speakers have participated in, they can often feel ill prepared if there are more people than they were expecting. On the contrary, they can also be underwhelmed by a group that’s smaller than expected.
Handbooks for the event can help with this by explaining everything they need to know, including locations, timelines, and other pertinent event details. They can also double as event brochures depending on how you design them. Here are some tips on how to design and what to include in your handbook/brochures.
Transition Time is Crucial
No one likes to feel rushed, so when planning the event schedule, be sure to factor in time for transitions. Add in some downtime for restroom breaks, networking, and stretching before and after every speech. Tacking on a few extra minutes will help keep your schedule running smoothly if anything runs longer than anticipated. While speakers have a general idea of how long their presentations will take, there is a chance they might run over time. This is where the added transition time will save you.
Tech Support is a Must
Tech support is possibly one of the most crucial investments you can make. Being on the event coordination team, you most likely know how to troubleshoot tech problems when they arise, but since you’re in charge of the event as a whole, there are going to be many issues you may not have time to deal with. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a designated tech expert who can take care of it all. No one likes the feeling of having technical difficulties and being put on the spot to improvise, so make sure someone is there to fix it as soon as possible. If you’re looking to hire outside technical services, Corporate is a great option.
Spread the Word on Social
Don’t make the mistake of leaving social media as an afterthought. Social media is the best way to spread the word before, during, and after your event. Share the love on your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. with the appropriate audiences and a consistent campaign hashtag. Tagging the speakers in your post will also help get some outside visibility from their followers.
When planning an event, make sure you have a checklist of these items so you don’t forget anything. If you’re an event planner, you understand how easy it can be to get carried away or overlook small details, but it’s your job to have it all under control. The two most important things to remember are the audience and the speakers. Make sure they are high on your priority list and everything will fall into place.
Sara Carter has 15 years of experience working in the tech industry and her site Ms. Digital Diva is her way of marrying that experience with her love of writing. As a woman in a predominately male field, she offers a unique perspective on the industry’s rapid changes and simultaneous tendency to stay the same.