Whether it’s virtual or in-person, speakers are one of the most critical elements of a successful event. There are numerous DOs and DON’Ts to make the event planner/speaker relationship work and maximize their impact.
Given the importance speakers play in a successful event outcome, how can you show gratitude for their contributions to create an experience that audiences (hopefully!) love? After all, speakers share their knowledge, time, and energy – frequently, without a fee. And in many cases, they’re helping increase your event reach by promoting their participation to their extended network.
Below are seven ideas to share your appreciation with event speakers before, during, and after the event.
A Speaker Information Kit
Develop a packet of information for your speakers so that they know exactly what to expect:
- Send a list of deadlines, and create calendar invites for all practice sessions and the event day.
- Share a social media promo kit, with designed tiles, recommended post copy, links, and event hashtags for them to share on social media.
- Provide any branded conference materials such as PowerPoint/Google Slide templates or virtual backgrounds.
- Forward a brief explaining all event tech that will be used, along with any set-up or download instructions needed.
It’s become common to send out virtual speaker prep kits – including everything from webcams and better microphones to ring lights or lighting kits and even green screens. Not only does this ensure speakers look and sound their best, but if you allow them to keep the upgrades, it can also serve as a token of appreciation (more on that below too.)
Even after a year of virtual presentations, a tech rehearsal or dry run is highly recommended. Platforms receive upgrades all the time, and you don’t want a speaker to find out on the day of your event, at the start of their session, that they have a tech issue.
Use this time to familiarize them with the features of your broadcast and audience engagement platform too, and ensure they have optimal Internet/WiFi, lighting, sound, and background.
An Option to Pre-Record or Present Live
While you’d expect speakers to perform well in front of audiences, presenting virtually sometimes adds a wrinkle for even the most experienced presenter. There’s something about the camera light staring back that makes presenting to a crowd just a bit more intimidating – not to mention missing crowd energy that many presenters feed off of.
Give your speakers the option to pre-record their session. You can always include live polls or Q&A during the broadcast of the pre-recorded session to increase audience engagement and add to the live event feeling.
A Back-Up Plan
The adage, “anything that can go wrong will,” seems to apply even more to virtual events. Give your speakers peace of mind by setting up a back-up plan in advance of the event. For example, ask them to send you a copy of their presentation materials or record the practice session so it can be streamed if the speaker can’t join the session. Also, collect each speaker’s cell phone number to text if they have challenges and also consider providing a back-up dial-in number for them to use for audio-only if needed.
In case there is a technical difficulty, speakers will be grateful knowing a back-up plan is in place.
During the Event
An Audience Engagement Platform
As mentioned previously, without physical feedback, reactions, or body language cues from an in-person audience, speakers may wonder if their presentation is resonating with audiences.
With the pressure to seamlessly manage the virtual broadcast, don’t add extra stress by asking speakers to use complicated AV or audience engagement technology that requires a lot of extra work from them.
Make it easy for speakers to interact, collaborate and receive feedback from virtual audiences. Consider a virtual event engagement platform like ConnexMe, to easily foster conversations and connections with remote audiences and manage their presentation seamlessly (document upload directly from ConnexMe, live document and slide annotations etc.)
Send a Thank You
This is the most obvious way to show gratitude. If you have an address where they are most easily reached, a handwritten thank you note is a personal touch that never goes out of style.
But beyond that, how else can you send thanks when it isn’t possible to give a physical gift as you’ve done in the past? In the last year, there has been a rise in the number of creative and affordable gift ideas that can be shared virtually.
Here are just a few to consider:
- Craft cocktail kit: let them raise a virtual toast to another great session by mixing up a special drink.
- A Cameo shoutout: purchase a personalized video message from celebrities to send a thank you that a speaker won’t soon forget!
- Gift cards: go beyond traditional merchandise gift cards and think out-of-the-box – including food delivery options like Goldbelly or something from a local business in the speaker’s hometown.
- Subscription box: with an option for every hobby or interest – whether it’s something like Book of the Month, Winc for wine enthusiasts, Cratejoy’s food subscription boxes, BarkBox for canine lovers, or any of the other hundreds of subscription box services now available – these are a fun way to keep the gratitude flowing post-event.
- Charitable donation: If your speaker has a favorite charity or cause, consider donating in his or her name to give thanks and give back at the same time.
Showing gratitude pre-, during, and post-event helps speakers feel like they’re invested in the success of your event – and creates a win-win outcome for everyone involved.
If you’re looking for new ideas to boost audience engagement and interaction, schedule a demo to learn how ConnexMe makes it simple to add interactivity and engagement to any event – no matter if it’s virtual, hybrid, or in-person.