How To Get Summit Speaker Content On Time (And Make It Easy)

summit speakers May 12, 2020

Feel like dealing with your virtual summit speakers is like herding cats? It can be! Here’s how to get your speaker content on time and make it easy!Many virtual summit hosts struggle to get speakers to deliver their content on time. But it doesn't have to be complicated!

In fact, I have a system for collecting speaker content that makes it pretty darn easy. In this post, we'll cover:

  • Why you need to prepare to collect content in advance
  • What type of content you need to collect
  • The best way to collect speaker content and how to automate the process

This post contains affiliate links for resources I use myself and highly recommend.

Why you need to prepare to collect content in advance

Let's start by talking about why you need to prepare to collect your speaker content well in advance of when you actually need it.

This part of the summit-hosting process is where most of the communication with your speakers will come from. It will also dictate the type of experience speakers have with your summit and the way they talk about it in the future.

I've had several speakers up to this point tell me that they will only be a part of my summit because every other one they've been a part of either has not led to any benefits for them or the process is a mess. And I don't want that to be you.

I don't want people talking about your summits (or any summits) that way. That's why it's so important to plan for this in advance and have a system prepared that will be easy for everybody.

The type of content you need to collect from your speakers

Before we cover what this process looks like, let's go over the type of content you need to collect from your speakers.

Content Categories

I break this into three categories and two separate requests. The categories include:

  1. Basic information: This is the basic information about them that you need for the summit website. It includes their name, website address, bio, headshot, and planned presentation title. This is what you need to have on your website to have it ready for registration to begin.
  2. Presentation material: Later on in the process, you'll need their presentation material. This will include their presentation along with any additional resources you want with it (such as slides, worksheets, information on a freebie they promote, etc.)
  3. Bonuses:  If you are having speakers contribute a bonus to your all-access pass or a free giveaway item, you'll need the information about that. This includes the name of the bonus, a description, the regular price, a mockup, and details on how people can access it. 

Two separate requests

So those categories cover the type of information you need from your speakers, but I like to break it up into two separate requests. There are two reasons for that:

  1. Splitting it up makes the process less overwhelming for your speakers.
  2. You'll need their basic information to add to the website before you need their presentation material.

In the first request, I ask for their basic information. I'll also include fields for them to fill in any bonus/giveaway information, but let them know that it's optional to provide that at this time.

Then, the second request is focused on their presentation material and gathering any remaining bonus/giveaway information (if they didn't provide it previously).

The easiest way to collect speaker information

Now that we know what information we need from our speakers, let's dive into the best way to collect that information.

First, know that absolutely anything is better than email.

Instead, give your speakers some kind of form they can fill out with the information you need. Even just a Google Doc is better than a straight email.

However, I do have two recommendations. I'm going to save the best for last, so we'll start with Airtable.

Using Airtable to collect speaker information

Airtable is great to use because you can create a table for all of your speaker information and keep it organized and easily-accessible.

Each column in your table holds a different piece of speaker information like their presentation title, their website address, etc.

Then, you'll have a form your speakers fill out that automatically feeds into that table. 

So it's easy for them to provide their information and easy for you to view it!

Downside of using Airtable

The biggest downside of using Airtable is that you have to manually follow up with speakers who do not deliver their content on time.

That might not sound too bad right now. You might even be used to following-up with clients consistently.

But consider hosting a smaller summit with 20 speakers. Two weeks out from the due date, you decide to send a reminder so you:

  1. Write up the email
  2. BCC everyone on
  3. Go through and double-check that you're not going to remind someone who already submitted what you need

Again, that might not sound terrible, but what about when you decide to follow up again 5 days before the due date, the day before, the day of, and the day after?

You're going through that process every single time, trying to accurately sort through who has given you all the information you need, who has given you some of it, and who hasn't provided anything.

Each time it gets a little more messy and takes you away from other summit tasks that need your attention.

It's also stressful to have to continuously look at the list of people who are late (and they will be late).

This might sound negative, but I just want you to understand the biggest downside of using Airtable by itself. It's a great tool, waaay better than email and other similar options out there, but I'm not a fan of manual follow-ups.

Which leads me to my top recommendation for collecting speaker material.

Using Content Snare to collect speaker information

With Content Snare, I swear it's like the heavens opened up and dropped down a tool to make our summit hosting lives easier. 

...I know...that was dramatic...but it's amazing.

With Content Snare, there are a few simple steps to getting it set up:

  1. Create form templates, like you would in Airtable - one for basic information and one for presentation material
  2. Create follow-up email templates
  3. Add new speaker's names and email addresses as they agree to participate
  4. Assign the form template and follow-up template to them
  5. ...and you're done

All of the follow-up is done for you based on the email templates you created.

Instead of you constantly keeping tabs on who has sent what, Content Snare does it for you. Once someone fills out all of their information, it stops emailing them, but until then it follows-up based on a schedule you set.

I tend to have my follow-up schedule send reminder emails...

  • 2 weeks before the due date
  • 5 days before the due date
  • 1 day before the due date
  • 1 day after the due date

It is so dang easy!

They even integrate with Zapier so that if you do want to organize information in Airtable or another spreadsheet, you can automate that as well.

THIS is how you do it and make it easy - not only for you but for your speakers.

I swear this isn't some kind of paid promo for Content Snare (I'm just obsessed), but I have one more cool thing to share about them. As of writing this post, if you reach out to them via email or their chatbox when you go to sign up and let them know that you're a summit host, they'll double the number of requests (aka speakers) you can have on your plan. So currently, their Startup plan has a limit of 20 requests (meaning 20 speakers max), but if you let them know you're an event host, they'll bump your account up to 40.  If you're feeling unsure about reaching out, just let them know that Krista from Summit in a Box sent you!

Use what works for you

Even though I clearly have a preferred platform, I truly want you to do what works best for you. It is vital that this part of the process is easy for both you and your speakers because it can turn stressful fast.

It's going to be what makes speakers say they loved being in your summit or saying that they never want to do a summit again because of it. It just needs to be easy.

Action Steps

I have a couple action steps for you today, based on what we covered:

  1. Identify which tool you'll use
  2. Identify what your follow-up schedule will look like
  3. Write your follow-up email templates




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