5 Tips for Landing Your Webinar Speaker of Choice

It's not always just about the ask. Here are top tips to getting the speaker your webinar needs.

By C&EN Media Group

You want to do a webinar. You have an excellent topic based on your target audience’s needs. You know what platform you want to use and the best ways to promote it.

But what about the speaker? You have someone in mind who can not only speak authoritatively on the topic, but who can also draw those coveted attendees. Will they agree to it? What is the best way to approach this potential speaker and get him or her to buy into your webinar?

First:

do research prior to approaching your target. You may know they are an expert on the subject, but do you know the details of their education, publications or awards? Do you know if they have any connection with your organization? Do they use your products or services or, better yet, do they have a personal relationship with your organization?

People like to be known and recognized for their achievements and the scientific community is no exception, but acknowledging this information will also show your potential speaker that you know their expertise will fit with the topic you have in mind. They’ll appreciate your interest in them and will be more likely to respond favorably if you can back up your ask.

Second:

be sure to emphasize what’s in it for them. This is primarily a branding opportunity – a chance to position themselves as a thought leader in the scientific community, and to give back to it. Webinars are excellent ways to build that reputation. Be sure to outline all of the promotional efforts that will be involved, how they can use them on their own channels, and be sure to make the presentation available after the event for everyone’s promotional efforts.

Third:

once you’ve done your research and crafted a request, before you hit “send” or pick up the phone, be sure your ask contains these two elements:

  1. A specific topic or concept you would like them to speak to. This is especially important if you have more than one speaker. Even if the final presentation drifts from the original idea, you want your potential presenter to know that you are not asking them to take on both the presentation and the heavy lifting of choosing the subject matter.
  2. A clear and concise call to action. This can be something as simple as “Would you be willing to spare an hour of your day on [day of the week], [month, date]?” This is a yes or no question that, if answered affirmatively, should be followed up with specific details of what is needed next (reply to this email, fill out an attached form, etc). You could also tell them you’ll be calling on a specific day and time to follow up on the request, at which point you would like the courtesy of a response. Be sure this is emphasized using a different font color or highlighted text.

shutterstock_new-way-to-webinarFourth:

offer to help with the slides. Now, admittedly this item will be dependent on your speaker. If you’re asking a seasoned presenter, they may only really want a PowerPoint template, if that. But sometimes your perfect speaker may be unfamiliar with the format of webinars, or your particular software. Provide them with a sample of a previous webinar presentation that they could use as an outline, or send over a list of resources to help with the live presentation. Be sure to outline any pre-webinar conference calls and live rehearsals with your software to further put them at ease with the process.

Fifth:

if your target is entirely too busy to actually do the presentation or resists agreeing, another option is to suggest an interview format, rather than a formal slide-by-slide presentation. This makes it much easier on the individual, and provides an interesting alternative to the standard slideshow webinar. Interview style webinars are also enticing because of the “unknown” factor of what a guest will say off the cuffs. It’s an unscripted format that allows for humor, unexpected surprises, and other personal stories that may not make it into a more formal deck. Additionally, this sets the stage for a lively Q&A session with guests that could span further than the original topic at hand.

Bonus tip:

Should your presenter decline, always thank them for their response and ask if they could recommend someone else for the presentation. This could be someone who is a better fit for the topic, has more time, or is actively searching for the teaching, interaction, and branding opportunity that webinars afford. This also provides you with a new contact – perhaps someone you don’t already know – and a personal reference which is a great “in” for approaching your new target.

These are just a few suggestions for getting that speaker that you want out of the lab and in front of your audience. There are lots more. What are some of the ways that you’ve successfully landed your speaker of choice?

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