If you want to hire a speaker to come to your business or organization, advanced planning is obviously important. But just how far should you plan ahead?
As part of our ongoing blog series about hiring a speaker the right way, we’re going to cover the question of timing first. If you want to have your event on, say, the first of June, when do you need to book the speaker?
The short answer is as far in advance as possible, but that’s not really a fair response. In reality, you need to answer several important questions about your event first. This will determine when you need to start reaching out to speakers.
Are you inviting attendees, or can you guarantee attendance? The fact is that speakers need audiences. If part of what you need to do is recruit an audience through marketing or advertising, that means you need to talk to the speaker at least a month, if not two months in advance.
On the other hand, if you have a regular monthly or annual meeting with a captive audience, you may be able to hire a speaker on short notice. That’s not to say a couple of months doesn’t help, but we’ve been known to book speakers here in Indianapolis with less than twenty-four hours notice!
Is your topic timely, or are you competing with other events? Often we’ll get last-minute calls for our speakers to do holiday parties or new-year sales kickoff meetings. These kinds of programs tend to happen right around the same time, so booking early is extremely important.
Likewise, if you’re looking to hire a speaker to come talk about an event that is in the news today, keep in mind that may not be a hot button issue in three or six months. Plus, a speaker’s expertise shifts as their interests change. So while it might make you feel extra organized to be booking a speaker more than a year in advance, it’s rarely advisable.
Booking early still requires staying in contact. Accidents do happen. Speakers are people, and they can get ill or be called away on emergencies. You and your speaker (or their representative) should stay connected about once every month or two leading up to the event, and touch base the day before and the day of your event.
Remember too, that new opportunities may come up for you to better utilize the presenter as part of the program. Maybe they can participate in an impromptu panel discussion, or perhaps you can have them autograph books at an after hours event. These ideas may not have been on your radar when you originally booked them, but if you are staying in touch you can explore new possibilities.
So that’s it! Those are the key questions to ask when hiring a speaker. Come back for the next part of this series when we discuss understanding your audience.