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Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees

Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees: 4 Tactics to Try

Of course you want to provide an exceptional experience for ALL of your conference attendees, but ensuring that happens for your first-time attendees is particularly important. Their decision to attend future events (and possibly even renew their membership) depends heavily on that first experience, so going the extra mile for those folks, in particular, is certainly worth it.

What does “going the extra mile” for your first-time attendees look like? Here are a few tactics worth trying:

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Finding the Right Speakers for Your Association's Event: 4 Tips

Posted by Callie Walker

Finding the Right Speakers for Your Event

A big factor in whether or not people register for an event (depending on the type of event) is the speaker lineup. Will there be new speakers they’ve never heard before? Will the topics be timely and of interest?

Finding speakers who meet those qualifications can definitely be a challenge, but to help you out, we’ve put together four tips:

1. Check with other organizations in your industry

Even if there’s not another organization out there exactly like yours (which let’s face it, there’s probably not), there likely are several organizations similar to yours (in a similar space, industry, etc.). Take advantage of those networks! Those organizations have events too, so ask them what speakers they’ve used and who seemed to be the most successful/best received by attendees. You, in turn, can share your own insights with them. There’s real power in collaboration, trust us.

2. Utilize online discussion boards/forums

What’s great about the speaker hunt is you’re not alone in that journey. It’s something that all companies and organizations (at least the ones who host events) have to tackle. That said, ask around! There are plenty of online discussion boards and forums out there dedicated specifically to finding event speakers. For example, if you’re a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), you can take advantage of Collaborate, their members-only online discussion board. You can ask other association executives what speakers they’ve used and who they recommend. And as you probably know, word-of-mouth references typically live up to the hype.

3. Tap into your member base

As a professional association, you have a whole member base of industry experts. Don’t let them sit idle. There’s so much your members can learn from one another. Would any of them be willing to share a case study or a success story?

To find these members, first, determine a topic of interest. (Something that many of your members need help with and/or would like to learn more about.) Then, send out an “In search of” style email. Ask your members if any of them have had success in that area, and more importantly, if they’d be willing to speak about it at your upcoming event. As an incentive, offer them a free or discounted registration. Depending on the response rate you receive, you could even form a panel.

Remember, we can all learn from one another. Plus, having your members speak can be a nice break from the norm.

4. Send out a member poll

At the end of the day, the point of finding good speakers is to appeal to your members and attendees and provide them with value. So, why not reach out to your members (via some kind of online poll) and ask who in particular they’d like to see? Some of them may be out of your price range, but that’s ok. It’ll still give you an idea of what you’re members are interested in and what it’ll take to get them to attend your association’s events.

And what if no one responds? Well, it never hurts to ask! You may even want to have a page on your website at all times for speaker nominations. A simple landing page that says “Want to see someone in particular speak at one of our upcoming events? Nominate them here!,” could be a great way to develop a backlog of ideas should you ever need them.

Finding the right speakers is only one part of planning a successful event. But we all know there’s much more to it than that. For more tips and tricks on planning an event your members and prospects will love, check out our Complete Guide to Association Event Planning below!

Association Event Planning: The Complete Guide  Best practices for before, during, and after an event Download this guide

Topics: event planning, Small Staff Chatter

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