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The time has come to plan your organization’s annual conference, and it has fallen upon your shoulders to arrange all of the details, including the talent.


Whether it is your first time, or you are hoping to improve from last year, do not figure it out by yourself. Instead, make life easier and learn from those who have come before you.


By following the tips gathered below, you are sure to plan a knock-out event and navigate the search for the ideal keynote speaker with ease, grace and total success.

Work Backwards


Simply put, be very clear about the desired outcomes and then work backward to ensure all logistics are in place to deliver the results.


When we look forward towards the future, our mind can get bogged down by factors both known and unknown. Beginning at the end, on the other hand, helps big events seem less overwhelming.


As you start this exercise, consider the following outcomes and decide which ones are best suited to your situation:


  • Network Building: Bringing people together from related industries to create long-term business relationships.

  • Continued Education: Providing individuals the necessary educational credits to satisfy their professional requirements.

  • Team Building: Creating a sustainable culture of trust and reliability within an organization, from top to bottom.

  • Communicate Change: Preparing individuals with productive tools to weather change within their industry or organization.

  • Health and Wellness: Helping people learn and institute new ways to manage stress and enjoy their life and work.


These are just a few examples of what a conference may try to accomplish, and yours may be different. However, the steps to achieve an outcome are often the same, and they always start with a clearly defined vision.


Envision the Environment


With the result in mind, you can better understand what environment will facilitate the process.


A networking outcome will require a venue that brings people together and allows for authentic conversation. For team exercises, a location removed from regular life can provide a better opportunity for people to be themselves and gain new perspectives.


In contrast, beware of environments that can derail your objective. For example, if you plan to organize a mindfulness or yoga activity as a breakout session during the conference, an environment free of random noise, conversation and interruption is something to consider.


Therefore, weigh your venue options carefully, as they can affect every other aspect of the conference.


Book the Talent


The speaker may be working for you, but you will ultimately need to operate as a team. Taking time to get the right fit for you and the event and being clear about expectations is a surefire way of creating a dynamic partnership.


With those thoughts in mind, move forward with these ideas to pick the right presenter:


  • Match the speaker to the objective: This may seem obvious, but it can be easy to lose sight of this fact. Many speakers can address a wide variety of topics but booking someone who specializes in gaining independence might not work well for a leadership team. Find a speaker that plays to their strengths and develops a portfolio based on specific themes.

  • Ask for pertinent examples of work: It is common for a speaker to have previous work posted on their website, but if it is not available be sure to ask them for a sample. Reviewing an uncut video of them speaking to a similar audience is an invaluable proactive measure.

  • Consider any extra services that may be needed: Some events benefit from speakers making themselves available to the crowd after the keynote. If there are any extra duties that you need for your conference, make sure the speaker you interview is fully briefed and able to perform these tasks.

  • Give yourself ample time to interview people: You do not want to miss out on the individual that is perfect for your affair, so move forward promptly. Though some last- minute bookings may work out, ideally you should have a speaker reserved six months before the conference is scheduled.

  • Be clear about responsibilities and expectations: Talent is hired to facilitate successful outcomes through motivational speech and reliable exercises, but there can be more to it than that. Discuss the roles and responsibilities of all parties if unexpected mishaps occur, or schedule changes arise at the eleventh hour.


There are many inspirational speakers to choose from, but it is crucial to take the time to narrow your search with wise tactics and hard facts.


Address the Little Things


Preparing for a big event means lots of lists filled with chores that never end. The reality is that the seemingly small things can make an enormous difference so do not overlook them.


For instance, know exactly what your speaker needs for their presentation and triple-check that the venue can accommodate these necessities. If possible, have them join you on location and do a test run, so you both feel comfortable.


Furthermore, make sure to follow up on urgent communications with your speaker. Times get busy, and not everyone is checking messages in the same manner. When there are changes or new factors that can affect the speaker, do not assume they got the memo.


From the sound equipment to the food service, transparent communication between all parties is a priceless skill.


Breathe and Enjoy


There are multiple components to a successful conference and having a solid understanding of how to steer through each one carefully will always pay off. By following sound advice passed down from those experienced in event planning and the selection of a keynote speaker, you can find precious help when it is needed most.


Taking this path should conclude with a final product that leaves you able to breathe and smile, enjoying the fruits of your labors.

Pandit Dasa is a mindful leadership expert, motivational keynote speaker and author who has spoken at Fortune 500 companies and helps organizations improve employee engagement, retention and workplace happiness. He helps individuals develop positive leadership qualities, lower stress and anxiety, increase focus and productivity and boost emotional intelligence.

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