October 23, 2023   |   Aprilynne Pike

Top 10 Tips For Running A Call For Speakers

It’s time! You have your event scheduled, the venue nailed down, a dream agenda starting to form … Now you need speakers. Great ones. 

Whether this is your first time running a call for speakers, or your fifty-first, here are our Top 10 Tips for running the best (and most effective) call for speakers ever.

Speaker giving presentation in a lecture hall

1. Start your call for speakers early

Like, right now! Why are you even reading this list! Go, go, go! 

Okay, okay, maybe not RIGHT now.

But do start early! As soon as you’re certain of your date and location, go ahead and start putting out feelers. 

Don’t start before that, because no one wants to commit the time necessary to participate in a call for speakers if it just happens to be the weekend of their grandmother’s 101st birthday party. (Happy Birthday Grandma!)

2. Go BIG! … and small

Get your call for speakers out to as wide a pool as possible! Utilize all of your social media channels and email lists, and maybe reach out to partners to see if they’ll spread the word too. You have no idea who you might catch with a really widely cast net.

BUT! When you’re approaching your absolute dream speakers—you know the ones—go small. Send out a small batch of very personalized emails to your big hopefuls, and invite them personally to respond to your call.

3. Automate everything possible

And that means software. Rather like … Swoogo’s Call for Speakers add-on. Just sayin’!

Automating everything obviously saves you time and headaches, but with a call for speakers, you’re only half the equation. Automating things like reviewing, requests for headshots (plus a portal to put them in), and pushing submissions into sessions saves your speakers tons of time and hassle and believe us, that sort of info gets around.

If you’re an event company that has a reputation for being easy to speak for … more people will be willing to join you.

4. Let them apply on their phones

Seriously, any software you use for a call for speakers should be fully-mobile friendly. This is good advice for pretty much any aspect of life. 😅 You’re hoping to get some considerable time from some very busy people. Don’t make them sit at their desk to communicate with you. Just like with Swoogo event registration websites, our Call for Speakers experience is mobile responsive and works well on screens large or small.

5. Anonymize your review process!

SO important. No one wants to be known as the person who said NO on a prospective speaker’s proposal. You’ll not only get more reviews, but more honest reviews, if you can assure your reviewers that their feedback is under wraps.

6. Match your call for speakers website to your event website

Not gonna lie, it just makes everything easier. It also makes it very, very clear which event you’re putting out a call for speakers for. Someone is always going to be confused—that’s a part of life. But the easier you make it to get confused … the more people you have to help with very basic things. 

Customization isn’t offered by every event management platform with a call for speakers module. So make sure to ask before you sign on any dotted line.

7. Data storage, backups, and recovery

Depending on the size of your event, you could be looking at a handful, to hundreds of presentation docs and decks. Some of them might contain info that is subject to a strict NDA. Some of them might have tons of gorgeous design and are simply huge. 

Regardless of the number or type of accompanying data, you should be able to let your potentials in your call for speakers know right up front that you can store their data securely, in a way that they can access it easily on the day of your event, and that is something catastrophic happens … that you can recover it.

Again, Swoogo’s Call for Speakers does all of this. If you have any doubts about your current event management platform, ask. 
And uh, ask before you open your call for speakers. Consider that tip #7.5.😜

8. Be transparent

For both acceptances and rejections. How much of an explanation you want to give is up to you, but let everyone submitting to your call for speakers know when they will hear back, when the review process begins, when they will be expected to have potential revisions in, and what contributions, if any, your company will be offering.

The last thing you want is to say yes to a potential speaker … only to have them say no because of something you didn’t tell them. (That you should have.)

9. Ease of use, but ALSO!

Your call for speakers dashboard should be easy enough to use that a random person looking to submit a proposal can figure it out. But, if you go the extra mile and provide a person (or even a pre-recorded video!) that can walk them through the basics, you’ll have happier submitters.

If your call for speakers module is so hard to use that a five-minute video can’t get a prospect started … it won’t matter how wide you spread your call for speakers … you’ll have a hard time getting people to finish a submission.

10. Offer a revision

None of us are perfect the first time. In fact, your call for speakers might be the very first time a really fantastic speaker attempts to respond to a call!

Aaaaand maybe their pitch is off. Or their presentation is too long. Or they misunderstood the brief. Lots of stuff can happen. 

But if you see that sparkle of big potential and want to see if this new person can step up to it, give them a chance! Who knows, it might be the Buckminster Fuller of the 2030s. (Did I seriously type 2030s? That’s terrifying.)

Gone are the days when event profs have to run a call for speakers with a composition notebook, a spreadsheet, and a lot of Advil. Many event management platforms offer a call for speakers module, and there are some good free standing ones that can be integrated as well.

Regardless of what direction you opt for, keep these tips in mind. If you’re in the market for speaker management software, use this list as a guide for what questions to ask. 

And if you want to hear more about Swoogo’s (AWESOME!) Call for Speakers add-on, you just go right ahead and book a demo and let them know you’re especially interested in Call for Speakers. 

You can tell them I sent you. 

Or not.

Either way, you won’t be sorry.