Clever Carly: Streamline the Speaker Submission Process

Calling for speakers at your next event? Use these strategies for quality submissions

Hello, dear planners!

Something we all know as event throwers is that the entertainment lineup can make or break a meeting. But finding presenters who will engage and resonate with guests—well, that can be a whole other story. 

Now, there are a lot of ways to cultivate an agenda of fascinating, compelling presentations. Instead of seeking out the perfect fit, try having presenters come to you through a callout for speaker submissions. 

On one hand, the pitch process can open the door to a whole new pool of speakers. The only downside: the time it takes to sift through every proposal. 

To streamline the crowdsourcing approach, and save precious planning time while doing it, make sure your call for speakers does these three things: 

1. Gets specific.

A general callout for speaker submissions could breed hundreds of presentation proposals, many of which will probably not be relevant for your meeting purpose. That’s a lot of paperwork to get through, especially on a short planning timeline. To ensure quality submissions, be clear on the type of presentation you’re looking for. For example, is there a topic that you know you want on the agenda? Or ideas you want to stay away from? The more specific you are, the more relevant proposals you’ll get in return. 

2. Asks for a brief. 

Depending on the meeting, speaker submissions will probably require potential presenters to provide a hard copy of their speech and presentation materials ahead of time. When you consider that speakers might talk for an hour or that events have multiple presenters throughout the day—well, that’s a lot of words to read. And again, you might not have the time to read every proposal word for word.

The solution: Ask for a brief, or an executive summary of the presentation. Consider it like a title page; speakers should include their names, the title of the presentation and a few sentences describing its overall tone and message. For planners short on time, this brief will help narrow down which proposals are best suited for the meeting, and therefore which they should spend time reading.

3. Includes a video component. 

Beyond the quality of a proposal, speakers will need to be able to do just that: speak well in front of a crowd. And let’s face it: No matter how good a submission looks on the page, it won’t be a successful presentation if there’s no personality behind the words. Unfortunately, a person’s public speaking skills won’t necessarily leap off the page as you’re reading. 

So, consider adding a video submission requirement to the application. Potential speakers can send two-minute clips introducing themselves and previewing their speech or submit clips from previous speaking engagements. That way, you’ll get an accurate feel for what he or she will be like on stage. 

Even if there are still a lot of submissions—and there probably will be; everyone wants their moment in the spotlight!—setting expectations from the start will help narrow down the presenter pool so you won’t waste time on off-subject ideas and proposals. Sifting through the paperwork might still take time, but it will be quality time. And as planners, isn’t quality what we’re always striving for?

Until next time.

Plan well, 
Clever Carly