The Slice

How to Find Speakers and Panelists For Your Webinar

June 16, 2022

Whether you're hosting a webinar for the first time or you're an old pro, there's one question that is likely heavy on your mind: who can I get to speak to the audience? There are many great ways to find speakers and panelists for your next webinar, no matter the topic. So let's check out ten of the most valuable ways to turn up highly-qualified, interesting, and engaging speakers to help ensure your webinar is a success.

Many brands have discovered the countless benefits of webinars, whether they're looking to increase their reach, establish authority in their niche, or create high-quality leads. Additionally, webinars can be a seriously awesome way to boost your employee engagement and create a stronger company culture for remote teams.

Whether you're hosting a webinar for the first time or you're an old pro, there's one question that is likely heavy on your mind: who can I get to speak to the audience?

There are many great ways to find speakers and panelists for your next webinar, no matter the topic. So let's check out ten of the most valuable ways to turn up highly-qualified, interesting, and engaging speakers to help ensure your webinar is a success.

Use the Power of Social Media

Social media can be an incredibly powerful tool when selecting speakers and panelists for your next webinar. Do you already have someone in mind? You can easily search for videos of previous speeches they've given on YouTube.

Another great way to get ideas for speakers when drawing a plan is to check out the TED Talk videos you can find on YouTube. These can help you generate concepts for specific speakers and topics if you haven't already landed on one.

LinkedIn can also be a valuable tool in your search. For example, you can use this platform to look at prospective teachers' work history and previous experience.

Tap Into Your Network

Sometimes, it's easy to forget the speakers right under your nose. While the internet can be an amazing resource, it's best not to overlook the connections you have already made in favor of those you haven't.

Talk to your colleagues and friends and ask them for recommendations. You can focus on talking to people in your field, but you don't have to stop there! Sometimes, people who aren't deeply entrenched in your industry can have exciting and outside-the-box ideas regarding this type of event.

Are you wondering how to improve your webinar sign-ups and attendance? Check out our complete guide here.

Use Online Speaker Hubs

Another tactic you can use to find speakers and panelists for your webinar is through speaker websites. There are several organizations that focus on connecting people with individuals that specialize in speaking professionally.

For example, you could check out the National Speakers Association. Founded all the way back in 1973, NSA is the oldest and largest member of the Global Speakers Foundation. If you're drawing a blank when selecting a speaker, you can find a wealth of highly qualified speakers through sites like this.

The NSA has thousands of available speakers, all organized by their specialty. On the site, you can find detailed profiles of speakers that have quite a bit of experience. The downside, however, is that there is a fee to use the service.

If you want to avoid the fee for the NSA, you can also look into SpeakerHub. There isn't any commission charge for connections, and you can search through detailed profiles of tons of speakers. However, you'll find that the pool of available talent is somewhat watered down by less experienced speakers when compared to the National Speakers Association.

It's worth noting that going this route can present its own unique issues. For example, suppose you are looking for a speaker in a particularly popular area. In that case, you might find it hard to pin someone down because of competition with other webinar and event creators.

It's important to read through all the details about a service before signing up because there can be hidden fees associated with this type of site.

Talk to the Chamber of Commerce

Depending on the topic of your webinar, you might find reaching out to your local Chamber of Commerce a useful strategy. It's common for local business owners to participate in Chambers of Commerce events to help increase their brand visibility.

Consider reaching out to the Chamber of Commerce in your area to see if they have any suggestions regarding speakers and panelists for your webinar. Not sure where your local Chamber of Commerce is? You can use this directory to find the Chamber of Commerce closest to you.

If you're organizing your first webinar, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. Don't worry; we've got you covered. You can learn what you need to know about webinar planning here.

Ask Your Audience For Suggestions

When it comes to webinars, don't be afraid to give the people what they want! If you're coming up empty when trying to think of who to invite to speak at your event, you shouldn't feel shy about directly asking your audience.

You can do this by creating surveys on social media or using survey sites to find out who your audience wants to hear. You can even ask for suggestions– it's possible someone will come up with a name that is absolutely perfect for your next webinar.

This can also be a great marketing strategy because it shows your audience that you're interested in providing an experience that suits their needs and wants. It's also convenient when you're hosting a webinar intending to gain more leads and brand recognition– after all, if you bring in a speaker that your audience specifically requests, you'll likely have much better attendance than if you choose someone they've never heard of before.

Consider Past Speakers You've Heard

Before you start feeling too distraught that you haven't come up with a solid team of panelists yet, think about the speakers you've heard in the past when you've attended conferences and webinars. Take some time to brainstorm your past experience and what you liked and didn't like about the speakers you visited.

If there's quite a bit of time before your webinar is scheduled, you can even start attending more events with this in mind. Have a notebook handy to take notes on the quality of speakers as well as the scheduling of the event. For example, you might find that you liked a particular speaker but felt that the question and answer section went on a bit too long.

By taking note of how other webinars and conferences are organized, you can have a leg up in the world of webinar production.

Call For Abstracts or Proposals

Another way to find speakers is to offer the opportunity to submit proposals or abstracts. This can leave you in a situation where you have a big pool of qualified speakers that you can browse through. In fact, it can mean that you have a new problem on your hands– now you have no problem finding a speaker; the issue is deciding between awesome candidates! 

However, you'll want an organized promotion plan to attract the best pitches from the best people. You can post your call for proposals or abstracts on your social media channels. You'll want to ensure you include all the most important info you want speakers to include in their proposal.

You might ask for a detailed outline of what they would talk about, or simply a proposed title for the talk.

Another important tool when you're trying to get the word out is email marketing. Even if no one on your list is qualified to be a speaker or interested in being a panelist, they might know the perfect person for the job.

When it's time to go through your proposals, you'll want to give yourself plenty of time to pick the right speaker. You can narrow it down to a short list of the most interesting and qualified candidates from your pile of abstracts.

Once you have a short list, you can start interviewing potential speakers. This can also be a great way to fill out your team of panelists, even if you already have a well-known keynote speaker lined up.

Consider Internal Members, Sponsors, and Partners

It's possible that the ideal speaker for your webinar is already within your organization. Similarly, your partners and sponsors might have individuals that could contribute valuable insight to the topic.

Having some externally sourced talent in your webinar is generally a good idea. However, when there are too many people from within your organization or that are connected to your sponsors, it can give the appearance that you weren't willing to pay well-known external speakers, or you weren't able to find any that would speak at your event.

Having a balance of internal and external candidates can be a great way to create a well-balanced panel of speakers.

Check With Industry Publications

Another easy-to-overlook way to find speakers for your next webinar is through industry publications. This can mean news sites, academic journals, blogs, and more.

It's common for industry and local publications to have keynote writers that generally also speak at conferences. Even if you can't find the perfect speaker for this event through publications, it can still be a valuable way to expand your network.

Look at Other Webinars, Podcasts, and Slideshares

When you're still in the brainstorming phase of things, search for existing content related to the topic you chose for your webinar. Who are the speakers at these events? How did it seem like the presentation was received by the audience overall?

You can also dive into the podcast world in your industry to see if there are any hosts or interviewees you feel could be a good fit for your webinar.

Pro-Tip: Before You Select Your Speakers, Select Your Format

The format you select for your webinar will inform the ideal choice of speaker in more ways than one. It's important to pick the format that suits your goals best because it is what gives structure to the information you're sharing.

Some of the different types of webinar formats include:

  • Educational webinars 

  • Panel discussions

  • Product Q&As

  • Interviews with industry experts

  • Debate between experts

  • Case studies

  • Online conference

  • Masterclass

  • Staff training

  • Hands-on online workshop

Of course, depending on your brand and your industry, some of these webinar formats might make more sense than others.

You'll also want to make sure you have a clear sense of what your goals are going into the webinar. For example, are you hosting this webinar for your remote employees to help boost engagement, or is the webinar aimed at an audience of potential customers to produce high-quality leads?

Once you have a clear sense of what you're hoping to achieve with your webinar, it can help you better understand the type of speaker you should be looking for.

What's Everyone Going to Eat?

When you're organizing a webinar, it's easy to focus on the event's content. However, you don't want to overlook one of the most important factors that create a happy crowd: food.

We know that you will do a great job putting together a team of panelists or selecting a speaker for your webinar. However, we just want to make sure that all of your attendees can be fully present during the event without the nagging, agonizing experience of having an empty stomach.

Plus, you want people to walk away pleased and with a positive judgment of your webinar, right? If that's the case, providing lunch is almost a necessity. Studies have found that judges make harsher rulings right before lunch and more lenient rulings when they return from their lunch break. So if you want your webinar to be deemed a success by the court of webinar-attendee opinion, offering food isn't a bad idea.

Organizing a webinar and figuring out how to get delicious, hot food to everyone that's attending can be a bit of a bear, though. Luckily, we'd love to take care of the food half of the equation for you.

Do you have a hungry crowd to feed? Are your attendees going to be signing on from distributed locations? Give us the details, and we'll make sure all of your attendees are well-fed during your next webinar.

The Pizzatime Blog

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