Meet Your Speakers

As a Conference Chair it’s good to meet the Speakers.

It’s one of the best things you can do in advance of an event.

You’ll get to know them. They’ll get to meet you and each other. And the rapport and chemistry between you starts to form.

The event organiser and audience benefit from a group of contributors that arrive well organised, in tune with each other and ready to deliver.

If this sounds good to you as a Chair or Facilitator, (or even an Event Organiser), here’s a simple checklist of what to cover in this meeting to get the most from it.

Brief introductions: a short personal introduction and an elevator pitch from each speaker on what they are going to speak about. As the Chair or Facilitator, establish your credibility by highlighting your connection with the area under discussion.

Emergency Questions: ask each of the speakers to give you a couple of questions that you can ask them. These are your collective ‘safety nets’ should there be a space between audience questions. And they smooth over any uncomfortable silences (AKA tumbleweed moments).

Running time: ask your speakers whether they plan to run to time, under time or whether they’re finding it hard to meet the time deadline. If they’re running under time, the emergency questions can be useful. If they’re planning to run over, ask them by how much and then how they might adjust their presentation. In all cases it can be useful to agree on a discrete signal to indicate ‘5-minutes to go’.

Format: what are they going to be using as part of their presentation? Slides are pretty standard, but there may also be audio/video involved. Some speakers may plan to pause half way through, run a poll amongst the audience or to check in on the chat (if the session is online). By knowing what each speaker has planned and what they need from you, you’ll be able to support them.

Any concerns: is there anything bothering the speaker that they would like to raise in relation to delivering their part in the event. If there is, you can note this and pass it on to the organiser, asking for their input. Or you can offer support yourself should you be able to help.

This meeting helps you to help your speakers. And your speakers to help you. And between you, you become more than the sum of your parts. And working together, you can transform the event into more than the sum of its parts. Something quite special.

Thanks for reading.

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