Conference speakers are one of the focal points of your annual event. They provide insights, research and, most of all, value to your attendees. Speakers set the tone for the rest of the conference—if you invite a really great speaker, your attendees will be even more excited for the rest of the event.

One major challenge event professionals face is finding speakers who are unique and engaging. You want to think outside of the box for your event presenters and invite people who will provide an interesting perspective to start your conference.

Why are unique conference speakers so important?

Attendees don’t want to see the same presentations over and over. There are two major types of “obvious” speakers who present at conferences. The first are people who are prevalent and well-known in the industry—everyone knows who they are and have likely heard them speak at other industry conferences (or yours) in the past. The second are the tried-and-true speakers who seem to be at every conference, even if they aren’t directly related to your industry. Bringing in these types of people may make members rethink returning to your conference next year.

Instead, inviting unique speakers will engage your attendees. Interesting presentations help people retain more information. The best speakers will have people talking about the presentation long after the event, which helps boost your association’s reputation. Plus, nobody wants to miss out on a great keynote, so members will likely want to come to future events to experience it for themselves.

Here are five types of conference speakers who can help improve your event:

  • The Industry Outsider: Oftentimes, unrelated industries face similar challenges to yours but likely tackle them in different ways. Find a speaker from outside of your industry who can provide insights on how to solve the same problems in new ways. Both the speaker and their knowledge will be new to your members!
  • The Fresh Perspective: Similar to the tip above, people in other industries harness similar skills and can offer a fresh perspective. Invite a speaker from outside your industry who can share important skills and how to best develop them. For example, event planners could learn a new method of time management from nurses, who are experts at prioritizing.
  • The Skilled Pro: Sometimes conference speakers don’t think to speak about their skillsets because they use them every day and forget other people don’t have them. Have a speaker talk about a new skill that could benefit people in your industry.
  • The Creative Presenter: Sometimes it’s not what the speakers say, but how they say it that grabs attendees’ attention. Speakers that give their presentations in a fun and creative way can often help members retain more information and entertain them.
  • The Futurist: It’s important for your attendees to know about current events and what will affect them in the next few months. But, if a speaker has a keen eye for future trends and can give a more long-term perspective, attendees will likely be very interested.
  • BONUS! The Unexpected: Just like this unexpected sixth tip, invite someone your attendees would not expect to speak at your conference or who has a really interesting story or perspective. Including the unexpected will interest your attendees and keep things fresh.

If you invite engaging speakers to your conference, your attendees will be more likely to return year after year. Show your members you provide value by booking presenters with valuable insights and skills to share. Don’t let an “obvious” speaker set a boring tone for your event. Ask yourself, what feeling do we want our conference to give to attendees? Make sure to bring in speakers who are unique and will provide that feeling from the start.

What kinds of conference speakers do you like to invite to your events? Leave us a comment!

About Omnipress

Omnipress delivers educational content for associations and other organizations. Digital and print solutions for in-person, virtual, and hybrid conferences and training programs.

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