Migrating your next major conference to the virtual realm? This does not mean you have to sacrifice value for the attendees. Quite the contrary, in fact. Today’s online conference platforms allow you to scale the event experience to more people, while removing some of the common roadblocks and challenges.

This includes the lecture hall or auditorium, where guest speakers deliver meaningful insights and information to a rapt audience. With virtual events, this means a remote audience, tuning in from various locations. But the content and expertise delivered by event speakers is no less rewarding, or relevant to the success of your virtual conference.

With that being said, the attention of your event attendees is a precious commodity, and there will be many activities fighting for it at your online conference. If you’re able to reel in an audience for a lecture or presentation, the pressure is on to deliver this value or risk losing their attention — and having that taste linger throughout the rest of their experience. So offering some real expertise at the heart of your scheduled talks is crucial, along with the proven ability to keep a crowd engaged.

The importance of qualified event speakers

What does “expertise” mean, anyway? That varies significantly depending on the subject matter of the event.

For instance, if you’re hosting a virtual open day for your university, the audience would expect to hear from faculty, professors, and others who can speak on the school’s history and student offerings. Someone who might be considered an expert elsewhere — say, a tech CEO — may not be the most relevant choice, despite their long list of credentials.

At a virtual conference, what constitutes a “thought leader” depends on the focus of your event. If it’s a conference for heart surgeons, a well-decorated doctor or scientist would have the knowledge and perspectives that matters to attendees. A random university administrator is suddenly a fish out of water. The tides turn quickly!

If you’re involved with planning a virtual event, it’s up to you to schedule exhibitors and speakers that offer the most direct value with regard to the occasion. And putting in the extra effort to recruit subject matter experts with some public speaking know-how can truly be the linchpin of your conference, and what attendees will remember most when it’s all over.

speaker giving presentation at an event

Choosing speakers for your event

There are an overwhelming number of people qualified to speak, technically. (Billions, in fact!) How do you identify the right guest speakers for your event? The sheer overwhelming nature of this search can dissuade many event organizers from making the effort, and their event may not reach its full potential because of this.

When considering an event speaker for your virtual conference, your team should make a list of what they’re looking for and what results they hope to achieve. You should also choose several “target” speakers and order them based on priority — that way, if your top choice doesn’t work out, you can work down the list in your search.

The following are some items to consider when determining the ideal virtual conference speakers for your online event.

Qualifications

As mentioned earlier, the expertise of your guest speakers is a make-or-break factor, not just of their lectures but of the event as a whole. Bringing the most relevant wisdom to your attendees will impress them and send them home with knowledge they can use. Providing this level of quality and know-how will also help legitimize your event and your organization as a whole.

What information would be most valuable for your audience? And which speakers, from which lines of work or other backgrounds, would resonate most? Put a significant amount of effort into this brainstorming process. Then do the necessary research to find proven event speakers or industry experts that can deliver this value from a true place of understanding. Credentials matter, and you should hold the event to a high standard with the speakers you showcase and the topics they discuss.

Availability

The experts you most want to speak can often be the ones with the busiest schedules. Whether committed to other events or simply busy with their craft, it’s not guaranteed that your top choice (or second or third) will be bookable on the day of your online conference. That can put a monkey wrench in your plans, particularly if you have a small group of target speakers.

When you’re looking to book a speaker, check their availability on the necessary dates. This may be done through contacting their management company or emailing the booking support provided on their website or social media profiles. And as said earlier, have a decent-sized list of possibilities ready to go, to be safe!

Speaking fees and event budget

The laws of supply and demand do apply to event speakers. Put another way, you can expect to pay a significant speaking fee. And as the experience level and popularity of these speakers goes up, so does their usual fee.  

We’d never suggest going far outside of your budget. In many cases, though, the right speaker can prove well worth some investment. During your event budgeting phase, consider the amount you can comfortably spend on some memorable talks for your virtual conference. Depending on the length and scope of your event, you may book any number of speakers, so budget accordingly. 

The good news is that speaking fees might be 25-50% lower for virtual events as compared to in-person appearances. So not only can your speakers dial in from anywhere, likely increasing their availability, but you’ll get a sweet discount on their services thanks to the wonder of online conference platforms!

Diversity

Offering a diverse set of talks is critical — in the speakers you book, as well as the content they deliver. When planning your roster of target speakers, the inclusion of different demographics should be a constant consideration. 

With the remote nature of virtual conferences, it’s easier than ever to recruit speaking experts from various regions and backgrounds, without the boundaries of location or the stresses and expenses of travel. Paired with the eco-friendly nature of virtual events, online conference platforms are an opportunity for you to make a difference through increased diversity across your speakers, exhibitors, and attendees.

virtual event auditorium full of attendees

Summary

Online conference platforms are actively changing the way we host and attend industry conferences, as well as other major physical events. The essence of these conferences remains the same, though: an opportunity to network, gather information, and attend conversations with thought leaders and accomplished pros. When organizing a virtual conference, the quality and delivery of your keynote speakers can be a defining trait of your event and its success. 

From focused webinars to real-time presentations, the experts that speak at your event can deliver the most meaningful knowledge to your attendees, with energy and engagement that is not possible with a brochure. In some cases, they can also take part in live Q&A sessions and chats with attendees. Recruiting experts to speak at your event is a worthwhile investment, and an essential ingredient in a fully realized online event.

About vFairs

At vfairs.com, we strive to build a top-class online event platform that will help event organizers make memorable connections with their target audience. We’re obsessed with taking out the hassle normally associated with physical events, leaving organizers and exhibitors to focus on what’s most important – engagement with the audience. Get in touch with an expert to learn more about vFairs, or request a live demo to see a virtual event in action.


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