Three Conference Speaker Ahas You Need to Know

Jess Scully | TEDxSydney 2013

How does your conference speaker selection process compare to other organizations?

What’s working and what isn’t when it comes to selecting and securing industry and professional speakers?

The Use Of Professional And Industry SpeakersCoverPhoto1_Full

The past summer, Velvet Chainsaw partnered with Tagoras, a leading market research and consulting company for learning, to survey conference professionals about their use of speakers for our second speaker report.

This research was initially conducted in 2011 and again in 2013. 175 organizations participated in the 2013 survey.

Here are our insights and research for you: The 2013 Speaker Report: The Use of Professional and Industry Speakers In the Meetings Market (Free PDF download. No contact information required.)

The Call For Speaker Proposals Headache

Does your conference use a Call for Proposals (CFP) for speakers or education sessions? If yes, what filters do you use to improve the quality of submissions? Are your conference program committees accountable for the decisions they make?

The CFP process is just one of the education program functions that keeps conference professionals awake at night. For many, it’s a monster to manage and an area that is resistant to change.

Take a look at two ahas dealing with the CFP process and success as listed below..

Three 2013 Speaker Report Take Aways

The 2013 speaker report has many new highlights and nuances. Here are three you should consider.

1. CFP Peer Review Is Way Too Nice

In 2013, we added a new question to shed more light on the CFP process. The data shows that on average, most organizations are accepting between 40 and 59 percent of the submissions. That average feels right to us although even a more stringent process could improve session quality.

The alarming discovery is that over one third of the responses indicate a submission acceptance rate of 80% or higher. In our opinion, these organizations are setting the bar way too low and most likely using the CFP process as an attendance justification ticket. When that happens, the conference has the potential of evolving into a conference of speakers speaking to speakers.

Organizations with acceptance rates greater than 50% should adjust their quality selection filters to increase the quality of conference education. The conference is not about or for speakers anyway.

2. CFP Timelines Are Two-Stepping And Shrinking A Little!

75 percent of the survey responses indicate that they use a CFP to source session content. In 2011, the CFP usage was identical. So no change there.

The largest grouping (41.3 percent), close their CFP 8 to 9 months prior to the meeting. On the good-news front, only a fifth of respondents close the CFP 10 months or more before the conference start date, down from one third in our 2011 survey. So marketing timelines are softening a tad, but have a ways to go.

We are seeing an emerging trend whereby more organizers are embracing a two-step process. In addition to the initial proposal call, they’re adding a second call closer to the meeting so they can fill programming holes with late-breaking, relevant content. So if you can’t move your CFP deadlines, try the two-step.

3. Live-streaming Hasn’t Lived Up to its Promise

Two years ago, we expected that many more organizations would embrace live-streaming to help amplify their best conference content. It didn’t happen.

This decline or flatline is an indication that most organizations attempted to monetize live streaming instead of using it as part of a marketing campaign to attract future attendees. Many of these attempts failed both in business model and session design that included engaging the remote (virtual) participants.

We’re revising our prediction to even less live-streaming in the future. However, we believe that more organizations will embrace a strategy of content capture with scheduled replays. Nevertheless, if that scheduled replay does not include engaging remote participants, we think it will fail again.

Which of these conference speaker ahas surprise you most and why? Are you experiencing different trends at your conference?

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