So you landed your dream speaker for a main session? Way to go!
Your work is far from finished. Make sure you go out of your way to exhibit five-star hospitality to this special guest. Being a superb host will boost your organization’s reputation in the speaker’s mind, making him or her more likely to A) come back next year, B) speak positively about your organization and C) build your reputation to attract other in-demand speakers. Plus, hosting people well is just the right thing to do!
Here’s how to host your speakers with excellence.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Information helps people feel valued, and being left in the dark does the opposite. Share as much information about the event as you can with your speaker ahead of time. Help him or her set expectations by communicating timelines and logistics as soon as possible. Share in writing and on a call if possible.
Make contact with their assistant immediately.
Speaking of communication, develop a working relationship with his or her assistant. For many professionals, their assistant handles logistics and also serves as a guide. Make sure you’re keeping the assistant equally informed so he or she can direct the speaker accordingly.
Provide a 1-to-1 connection.
Assign a “host” to each speaker who can be his or her on-site point of contact for the entire event. Select this person strategically, keeping in mind personalities and interests. You don’t want a “super fan” who will try to monopolize the speaker’s time or cross boundaries. Think of this host as a personal concierge who can remind your speaker when to be where and answer questions. Who knows, they might even be needed for restaurant recommendations or tracking down a printer.
Provide creature comforts.
Develop a preferences form for each speaker and request that it be completed well in advance. Include questions pertinent to speaking preferences (lapel mic or handheld?) and also food and beverage. Do a room drop for each speaker so he or she will have favorite comfort snacks and drinks at the hotel, and stock some in your green room as well.
Follow up! Send a handwritten thank-you note within a month of the event and also a small gift if appropriate. Reference specifics in your note. Genuine gratefulness goes a long way.
Don’t fall prey to thinking the hard part of your job is over once you receive that coveted “yes” from your first-pick speaker. Treat them well before, during and after the event to maintain a strong relationship. Who knows, it could be the start of a spectacular partnership.