Conference Hack #5: Speaker Briefings – Get off on the right foot

After having conducted hundreds of speaker briefs over the past 12 years, I’ve refined what both the speaker and the organization need to address to nail the pre-event speaker briefing.

Don’t try and get your speaker to be all things. Distil your message so your speaker is crystal clear on what desired outcomes you are wanting them to address.

Here is a template to help you with your next offsite:

  1. Introductions
    • Introduce who is on the call and what their roles are at the conference
    • Confirm the date & arrival time of the conference
  1. What the speaker needs from you:
    • Event Overview
      • What is your business?/ if it is a specific department- some info on what you do (total elevator pitch- 30sec max)
      • Why are you having this conference?
      • What is the conference overarching theme?
      • What are your main objectives from the Keynote/ session? (please give the speaker 3 key points that you want your audience leaving with).
      • What would make the speakers session home run? 3 key points.
    • Your business
      • Are there any significant changes in the business recently?
      • What are some of your recent wins in the business? (keep short!)
      • What are some recent challenges the business has faced?/ Any themes that are sensitive/ should be avoided?
    • What is the room layout? (theatre style or cabaret)? (Does the speaker have a preference for maximum impact?)
    • Your Audience
      • Who in your business will be attending the conference?
      • What is the mood of the audience expected to be like?
      • What is the Male/ female mix?
      • What is the age profile of audience/ position in organization?
    • The keynote
      • Do you want the speakers presentation to be anecdotal (ie story based) or direct messaging? If so, what is the message you want conveyed?
      • Who are some of the speakers you have had in prior conferences/ events? What was it that you liked/ disliked about their sessions?
      • Who is the speakers contact on arrival? Make sure the speaker has their number and that person is available to meet the speaker on arrival.
  1. What you need/ (should ask) from the speaker:
    • How do they intend on tying their keynote into the conference theme?
    • Can the speaker please send?:
      • AV & staging requirements
      • Intro script
    • Do they have any special requirements (not listed in the AV rider or intro script?
    • Is it OK for you to contact the speaker direct if any further questions/ points pop up?
    • Can the speaker please text/ call us when your flight has arrived and you are on your way to the venue.
    • Can the speaker please let us know immediately if any travel arrangements have been delayed?
    • Would you like the speaker to stick around for morning/arvo tea, lunch, dinner etc?

Some additional notes to assist you with the speaker brief:

  • Most (decent) speakers will be doing multiple briefs/ week. The more organized and succinct you are… the more chance you have of the speaker addressing your key outcomes/ objectives.
  • Each one of the above briefing points will assist the speaker in preparing for your next offsite/ conference. Although some of the questions may seem a bit strange, the speaker will use this information to craft their message.
  • A tight speaker brief (for a keynote slot) should go no longer than 20mins. Workshop briefings are often a little more involved and do often go longer.
  • It’s a great idea to follow up the call with a dot point email summarizing the above points. Speakers can then cut and copy this straight into their calendar and again, this will help ensure the speaker hits the right points on the day.
  • Finally, you are engaging a professional who probably knows how to address your desired outcomes really well, with a great briefing there is no need to try and overcontrol the speakers session.! Once you have communicated the above, you are committed. Have faith in them!

Feel free to get in touch if you’d like any more info or support in building a successful offsite for your team.