As an event organizer, you have a responsibility to ensure that both your guests and your speakers are as comfortable as possible. This includes everything from them feeling safe and secure to providing water points and making sure that your chairs aren’t so hard that people can’t comfortably sit in them for long.
Making people feel comfortable just makes sense. It helps to ensure that they get the most value out of your event, and it also increases the chances that they’re going to want to come to your next one. If nothing else, it just shows consideration and that you actually care about your attendees.
But making your speakers feel comfortable is a particularly good idea because that will help them give their best and will hopefully provide the foundation for a top quality talk that your attendees will remember for years to come.
And so without further ado, here’s what you can do to ensure that speakers feel comfortable at your next event.
1. Communicate ahead of the event
One of the best ways to make speakers feel comfortable at your event is to communicate with them well ahead of time and let them know what to expect. It’s also a good idea to use this contact as an opportunity to ask them for their feedback and to encourage people to let you know if they have any special requests.
2. Provide them with a help hotline
Provide your speakers with a phone number that they can call around the clock with any issues that they may have. This will allow you to troubleshoot problems as soon as they come up rather than finding out about them on the day or leaving your speakers to figure things out for themselves.
3. Ask them for their rider
Think of your speakers as being like rock stars. Offering them a rider means that you can provide them with those little home comforts that are going to make their stay more comfortable. Better still, because public speakers aren’t rock stars, they’re not going to ask for anything crazy. It’s more likely that they’ll ask for a couple of bottles of water and a packet of Oreos than anything illegal.
4. Book them in at a decent hotel
Even though your speakers will spend a lot of their time at your event, they’ll also spend a decent amount of time at their hotels. Some event organizers leave hotel bookings to their speakers, and it’s true that you should at the very least give them the option of sorting it themselves. Still, you should also shop around and find the best hotels in town and offer to put your speakers up there so that they can get a good night’s sleep before they speak.
5. Give them an all-access pass
Giving your speakers an all-access pass will help them to feel like the VIPs that they are. It will also give them the authority they need to go wherever they need to instead of leaving them worrying about whether they’re allowed to go into a room to charge their laptop. If you offer different types of ticket to your event, make sure that their pass comes bundled with the best of them.
6. Ask for permission before filming and photographing them
Most public speakers will be more than happy to allow you to take photographs of them or to shoot video footage of their presentations, but you should still be sure to ask them. It’s both a legal best practice and a matter of common courtesy. If they do consent to you taking photos and footage of them, be sure to send all of the materials to them and give them the chance to review before you post.
7. Take them out for dinner
Taking your speakers out for dinner can be a great way to welcome them to the area and for you, as the organizer, to spend a little time with them before your event kicks off. When you’re working with multiple different speakers, it also provides valuable networking opportunities, and it gives them an experience that regular ticket holders aren’t privy to.
8. List their names on official materials
Listing your speakers’ names on official materials for your event makes a lot of sense from a marketing point of view, but it has the additional effect of helping your speakers to feel more comfortable. That’s because it adds some legitimacy to them and ensures that they feel welcomed to your event. It helps to differentiate them from a regular visitor and gives them something they can point to when they’re talking to people and introducing themselves.
9. Provide them with free hot drinks
Whether they’re tea lovers or coffee drinkers, providing your speakers with a pass that entitles them to free hot drinks will help them to settle in and gives them one less thing to worry about. Bear in mind that even when you’re paying your speakers, they’re still likely to be traveling on a budget, and so giving them unlimited hot drinks means that they can indulge to their heart’s content without having to worry about their expense accounts.
10. Follow up with them
Following up with your speakers after your event won’t help them to settle in while they’re there, but it will reiterate that you valued their contribution and that you were happy that they were able to attend. It also makes them much more likely to want to return and will make them feel a little more welcome when they do.
Now that you know a few of our top tips for ensuring that speakers are comfortable at your next event, it’s over to you to put what we’ve talked about today into practice. It can help to make yourself a checklist of which steps you want to include so that you can work through it the next time you’re hosting an event.
In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you so that we can keep the discussion going. Be sure to share a few of the steps you’ve taken to make speakers feel comfortable at your own events, and don’t forget to follow us on your social networking sites of choice for more. We’ll see you soon!