Setting Up a Call for Speakers

Your event agenda isn't complete without the right mix of speakers. Even the most compelling, awe-inspiring agenda will fail if the presenters aren't... to put it bluntly... any good. Your goal as the event organizer is to wow your attendees, offer them something new, something they didn't already know, something they can walk away with and reflect on or put into action later on. A compelling agenda with the right speakers also helps ensure your attendees register to attend to even get the chance to be inspired in the first place! 

Particularly for larger scale and multi-day events, having a process to identify and sort through speakers will make your job significantly easier. If you're running the call for speakers, we suggest setting up a landing page to collect contact and session details. The landing page should provide an overview of your event: what it's all about, what makes it unique, who attends & why, who should apply to speak & submission instructions, and a basic FAQ to avoid your inbox from being overloaded with the same questions over and over again. That said, be sure to include a direct contact (email address or form) to field questions that may not be covered by your FAQ (or from folks who don't read FAQs, which undoubtedly there are many). 

The form itself should collect the following information: 

Speaker Info

  • Name
  • Company name
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • Website or Blog URL
  • Twitter handle
  • Speaker Bio (~200-400 words - this is what will appear on their bio if selected)
  • Headshot (include dimension requirements) 
  • Affiliation (i.e. partner, customer, employee, other)
  • Have you spoken at this event previously? If so, when?
  • Have you spoken/presented at a conference before? Provide examples.
  • Link to video presentation (this is becoming much more common and allows event organizers to see the speaker in action)

If a representative is submitting on behalf of the speaker, be sure to also collect their basic contact details as they'll most likely be your point of contact during this process.

Session Details

  • Session title (up to 20 words)
  • Session description (250 word max - include takeaways for the audience, who should attend)
  • Has this presentation been delivered before? Please explain. (determines whether the content is new or how recently it's been presented if that matters to you) 
  • Session type (i.e. breakout session, keynote, panel, case study, workshop)
  • Session track (if you have tracks)
  • Topics covered (this will help with promotion and marketing materials)
  • Target audience (you can break this out by role, industry, themes, experience level)
  • Preferred dates & dates unavailable (for single day events, you can break it down by preferred timing)
  • Would you like to be contacted for additional event opportunities (i.e. other events, promotional content)? 
  • Anything else you'd like to share? (general comments, questions, requests)

Lastly, make it clear in your form and FAQ that while you appreciate the submission it does not guarantee selection, and whether you will be covering fees - including speaking and/or travel - to avoid issues later on. 

Tips to the speakers: if you're planning on applying to several speaking gigs, we recommend drafting an abstract that includes responses to the questions above (minus the ones that are event specific like session track and preferred dates). Having this information gathered in one place should allow you to quickly cut and paste when submitting to form fields or as a pdf. And if you're new to the whole speaking thing and don't have any video recordings or events to point to for reference, don't let that deter to you and put something together to showcase your abilities. May the odds be ever in your favor!