8 Tips for Recruiting High-Quality Webinar Speakers

June 17, 2019
Person at desk speaking into studio mic with laptop nearby

What is the most important part of a webinar presentation? Of course, the timing, technology, and ease of use for the learner are super important, but the absolute most important part to the success of your webinar is the content and subject matter expert (SME). These two components can make or break your session.  

Many associations, that I speak with, are concerned about their ability to recruit high-quality webinar speakers, or even forget high quality, recruiting anyone to teach a webinar! I get it, as an association alum, I struggled with the same issues but for me it was about finding the diamond in the rough and then rewarding them appropriately to entice them to teach more webinars. Once you have a couple of subject matter experts in your pool you can get a lot of content generated. And then if you take the time to repurpose the content you can quickly develop a robust catalog of offerings. Here are some strategies you can consider when recruiting new webinar speakers to set yourself up for the best success rate possible.  

1. Understand the SME’s Topic Breadth

You need to understand what topics they can teach. You don’t want to reach out to a speaker that doesn’t really fit in that topic area but is eager to teach. This can be a recipe for disaster. Remember, your impression on your learners can be damaged so quickly and takes so much effort to regain their trust in the quality of your content. Ask the SME for a list of their topics they have developed content for and which topics they will develop in the future. This will give you a good idea of what you can do now, and what you can plan for in the future. 

2. Who Have You Heard?

There are three great ways to find out potential speakers from other events.

  1. Attend industry-specific events which allow you to hear the speaker before approaching them for your webinar. It’s almost like an “unknown“ audition! 
  2. Have your committee members attend industry meetings (which they probably already do) and report back to the group when they see a showstopper. 
  3. Poll your audience by sending a quick survey or poll to past webinar attendees to see who they heard and were impressed.  

I’d suggest once you have the names, do some research to see if they have any On Demand content or upcoming webinars. You want to experience their skills in an online format, not just in-person. They are very different delivery methods, and just because they are a great in-person speaker, doesn’t indicate that they will be a great online speaker. 

3. Social Networks

Do some sleuth work… look at your organization’s social media accounts like, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your Community and see who is engaging with rich content sharing. Who is answering people’s questions on particular topics? Do some digging into their expertise and then approach them to see if they would be interested in teaching. 

4. Templates for Resources

Make the process easy on the speaker. Have templates for your speaker to use like a PowerPoint, Case Study, Handout, etc. This will allow them to concentrate the bulk of their time on content. 

5. Interview Format

So you’ve found a speaker you really want, but they just don’t have time to prepare content right now. How about proposing to them an interview, rather than a formal slide presentation? They won’t need much prep time and you still get their expertise in front of your audience. Have a board member, committee member, or staff member ask the questions. This format can be exciting for the members as it’s much more conversational, allowing for a more lively and engaging approach. Also, this content is great for repurposing into a Podcast.   

6. Trial Run

Invite some committee members or active members who attend your training to a, free or very low priced, single–session or multi–session webinar event where your new SME’s can test their content. Allow the SME to pick a small subsection of the webinar and teach it to the “test audience.” Give the audience a method to rate the speaker’s performance. Provide that feedback to the speakers for consideration and improvement before the official presentation. Or cut your losses if it went poorly.

7. Recognition & Reward

I think we need to remember the age–old concept that people like to be rewarded in different ways. Yes, some of us like the good ole’ do-re-mi (aka $$$), while others like to be given a takeaway (maybe the attendee list or a copy of the recorded webinar to host on their website), and still others like recognition. Figure out how your speakers want to be rewarded for their time. Don’t feel like you have to make a one-size-fits-all approach to compensation. 

8. Recommendations

When your speaker declines always send them a “thank you” note for their consideration and ask if they can recommend someone for the topic. This might even turn out to be someone who is a better fit that you just didn’t know about. This provides you with a new potential SME plus you still might want to go back to the original speaker at another time! I call this a two-for-one deal, at least in regard to recruiting! 

Once you’ve started selecting your SMEs, it’ll be time to host your webinars professionally – don’t hesitate to reach out to Blue Sky and learn more about how we can help you run successful events!

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