Whether your event comprises 50 speakers or 500 – GoRemote explains why it is essential that these speakers are briefed and managed carefully to ensure that you get the very best out of them.
Large virtual and hybrid events require a special kind of management.
A sizeable annual conference is a different beast from a smaller, localised event. Often, the vast numbers of delegates and speakers become unmanageable for a small internal events management team. As a result, many conference organisers outsource to agencies and events providers to cope with the sheer amount of work. However, with outsourcing comes a degree of depersonalisation and difficulty in arranging and organising speakers.
1. Personalised and clear email communications
Speakers want to feel that they are being looked after and respected from the outset. So initial emails from conference organisers must be clear, concise and address the speakers correctly, i.e. Dr, Prof, Minister.
Sending out huge numbers of emails to hundreds of speakers requires you to track who has opened the emails, whether they have responded and how best to reply to responses. For this reason, it is better to use a mail service that can record opens and have some preformatted answers to typical questions ready to send back should they ask for more information.
Speakers should be sent the right information at the right time, so they are clear on what they need to do in the lead up to the event. They should also receive calendar invites for their session, containing the URL and key information, to avoid confusion over time zones and when they need to join.
2. Carefully check speaker credentials
For many well-known congresses/conferences, there are plenty of people offering to speak, but whittling them down to the right people can often be tricky. You may have to go through their work, previous talks and assess whether they would be a good fit for your conference. Leaving this solely up to an agency can leave you with inexperienced speakers who may not be suitable for the event.
3. Pre-event briefings to ensure speakers are prepared
Checking and briefing speakers before the event helps the speakers and ensures your event runs without a hitch. Clear and concise briefings guarantee that they are fully prepared ahead of their session. Virtual events place a great deal of pressure on those talking, and it’s critical they feel comfortable and supported. In your briefings, you should check their technical setup is stable, that they understand any event tools, and are clear on how the session will run. Doing these checks before the event reduces the risk of issues on the day, so you can deliver a smoother event experience. Do not assume that one brief will fit all of your speakers. You may need to tailor your briefing depending on the level of the speaker, for example, in order of highest to lowest:
- Chairpersons who are introducing speakers and overseeing the event
- Panel attendees (who will need to be briefed for answering virtual Q&A’s)
- Smaller sessions speakers
4. Virtual VIP experience
Traditionally, when important speakers arrive at physical events, they are given the star treatment, usually with airport transfer, a hotel room, dinner and some other perks thrown in. This special treatment isn’t available in the virtual world, so your speakers need to feel well looked after in other ways, with good briefings, good communication, and on-hand support whenever they need it.
5. Partner relations
Your keynotes and other important speakers come from partnerships with businesses, organisations or institutions. Often the talks will be undertaken by people high up in the company. Partners are protective of their talent; one bad speaker experience might mean that they don’t want their representatives to speak at future events. You need to take into account your partnerships, their business concerns and ensure that you form a bond of trust between them, their spokesperson and your event agency.
6. Support speakers during the event
Speakers should arrive in good time before the event to ‘onboard’ them. This means giving any final briefings, double-checking their technical setup is stable, and answering any questions pre-talk. Also, ask them to close background applications and put their phone on silent to avoid unwanted disruptions. It is also a good idea to set up an event WhatsApp group so speakers and the production team can easily communicate mid-show.
GoRemote’s experience at large events
In the past year, GoRemote has handled speaker support at a wide range of large online conferences.
We helped EASL’s yearly International Liver Disease Congress transition to a fully online environment – overseeing ten streams hosting the various content tracks.
Claire from EASL remarked that:
“We really enjoyed the friendly relationship we have developed with the GoRemote team through the 3 days of the event. Your efficiency and professionalism in delivering a high-quality service that was up to our delegates & faculty’s expectations did not go unnoticed and was very much valued by all.”
GoRemote also undertook onboarding over 200 high-profile speakers, including ex-presidents, ministers and billionaire tech founders at the Paris Peace Forum.
Phillippe from the BlueMotion, one of Europe’s leading virtual-event streaming and technical production agencies, said:
“It took a unique team and skills to manage them, and not surprisingly, the GoRemote team was exceptional. Thanks to their professionalism and their tailor-made tools for collecting technical data and reporting to the project team, Go Remote was a key factor in the success of this event.”