How to Choose the Right Speaker for a Wedding Industry Event
Posted by Meghan Ely
To answer the question that often stumps even the most well-seasoned event organizer, there are many facets of the ‘right’ speaker when it comes to selecting someone to share expert insight with your crowd. For instance, it’s crucial to take a look at their past speaking experience, what content they can deliver to your audience, and how their message might resonate – to name a few.
Education is typically one of the main components of any successful association or industry group event, and your decision to vetting a well-rounded speaker will make a huge impact, including how attendees will receive their talk.
These days, the number of event professionals evolving into educators is growing exponentially, which is why it’s essential to take the appropriate steps to find the best fit for your group.
Review past speaking topics
Before you can pursue a new face to bring to the group, you’ll first want to revisit what’s already been covered in the last 12-18 months. This will not only give you a better feel for what has been explored in terms of topics, but you’ll also be able to identify any content gaps that are missing (or ones that members or attendees have requested for future talks).
Try to look at this with an unbiased eye – a program that you may not have loved might have been a win for the majority of the group, or vice versa.
Consider sending out a brief, easy survey to gauge the interests of the group with three questions:
- What programs have you liked, and why?
- What programs have you not liked, and why?
- What would you like to see more of?
From there, you’ll get a better idea of the needs of your group and what they are looking forward to future sessions. While the highly saturated or ultra-niche topics may not have as strong of a pull, ultimately, you should be listening to what’s in demand.
Where to find speaker options
Now, this can particularly be a tough one, despite there being a wealth of wedding industry speakers at the ready in nearly every market. The real catch is, again, finding the right fit for what you and your group are looking for.
Take a look at speaker lists from national conferences. This is an easy way to browse current and past topics of theirs, including some of their upcoming sessions where you can potentially see for yourself if they’d be the right choice.
Additionally, you can peruse some of your private industry Facebook groups and ask for recommendations. This is especially great for getting some insider feedback on those that you may be interested in booking, as well as any references from fellow pros that have attended their previous speaking engagements.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to use your connections to your advantage. If you belong to a national organization, reach out to association members in your position in other regions for suggestions or reviews on a speaker you have your eye on.
As you’re narrowing down your selections, there are a few factors to keep in mind when determining who makes the final cut as a wedding speaker. First and foremost, are their topics fresh and inspiring, and something that may be of interest to your audience? If all you have to go on is a list of topics, be sure to reach out for a more in-depth look at descriptions and key takeaways.
Perhaps one of the essential things to look for is their speaking experience, including regular and recent experience of speaking in front of crowds of a similar size or with similar challenges. Ask for a list of relevant engagements from the last 18 months to get a feel for the type of content they delivered and to which organization(s).
On a related note, delve into their industry-related content and experience to ensure that they’re matching up well with that of your colleagues. While you can absolutely bring in professional speakers from any industry, you’ll find that attendees often respond well to those who have been in the trenches and understand the unique challenges that come with being in hospitality.
Never hesitate to ask for a video reel or clips. I’d rarely suggest saying yes to a speaker if you haven’t seen them present previously, or if you haven’t at least seen a video sample of one of their talks. An established speaker often has these at the ready, so you can get a feel for their stage presence and how they interact with the crowd.
It may not necessarily be a top priority for you or even a deal-breaker, but it’s undoubtedly helpful to check out which memberships they have regarding local or national associations. Bonus points if they’re a member of your organization!
It’s extremely important to do your due diligence and screen any wedding speakers you have on your radar. What is it like to work with them when it comes to response time, proposal turn-around, level of preparation, etc.? Reach out to mutual contacts and put some feelers out. If there’s any hint that they are challenging to deal with, it may be a sign of the times to come, and you’ll want to avoid it and take another route.
Now that you have an idea of identifying the ideal candidate for your group’s next speaking event, you can make an informed decision on who will bring the most value to the table.