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The perfect speaker briefing

There is a direct correlation between how well a speaker is briefed and how good the conference will be. The better the briefing the better the content. And therefore the better the conference. So how do you design the perfect speaker briefing?

How are you briefing your speakers

I often talk about the 700 or so events I have organised. Over half of those have been conferences (or smaller content led events like seminars and workshops) but I don’t often talk about my role as a speaker.

I’ve spoken at around fifty events. I’ve delivered presentations in Barcelona, Beijing, Budapest, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Madrid. I now consider myself an ‘experienced speaker’.

So it is with these two perspectives, the experienced organiser and the experienced speaker that I look at the ‘speaker briefing’

The basic speaker briefing

How an organiser briefs a speaker will be one of the most important elements of any conference. A good briefing leads to a better prepared speaker and (assuming you have chosen a good speaker) a better session.

I wonder if any #eventprofs would argue with this premise? It’s certainly been the case in my experience as an organiser and a speaker.

I would be as bold to say that how you brief your speakers will directly impact the success of your content led event.

So let’s look at what should be in every basic event brief:

  1. The logistical details of the event. Date, location and time of presentation.
  2. Session details. Duration of session agreed, format required and details of any other speaker/s /chair involved.
  3. Presentation details. Deadline for delivery, format of presentation and guidance if using slides.
  4. Details of AV. List of what is available and request for additional AV.

So how does this one compare to your event brief?

This is the bare minimum that any speaker should receive to support their presentation. It’s not much and it’s basically all pretty logistical.

To me a brief like this kind of says “We hope you turn up and deliver ANY kind of presentation” It’s perfunctory, it does the basics of ensuring the speaker has a presentation and doesn’t turn up late.

But that’s not enough for the modern day conference and if you want to creatively engage your conference audience you have to do much, much more.

Every speaker should demand a better brief and every organiser should prepare one.

The Full Event Brief

So let’s look at what else should be added to a full event brief to make the perfect speaker briefing:

  1. Audience information. A breakdown of who is likely to turn up (and a list of those already booked by company and job title), their experience and what they want to hear.
  2. The objectives of the conference. An understanding of what the organiser hopes to achieve and what the likely objectives of the audience are.
  3. The key themes running through the conference. A list of the themes that the organiser expects speakers to include / cover in their sessions.
  4. Support on structuring their session. A suggested guide or a “how to” structure their session.
  5. Advice on how to make their session memorable. A list of ways in which their sessions can sparkle.

Now, with a full event brief we have an brief that says: “I need you to deliver the right content, you are important and here’s some best practice”. Wouldn’t you agree?

I think this is the minimum that any speaker should receive. If you are an event organiser who runs content led events I would love you to take out your speaker brief and see if you have a “basic one” or a full event brief.

The better the brief, the better the session.

We plan to cover our speaker and our chairmans brief in detail (plus some other best practice) at our Creatively Engaging a Conference Audience online training courses in November. Check out the details here.

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