How to Write a Call for Speakers

motivational speaker for franchiserIt's that time a year again, where I typically fill out a lot of Call for Keynote Speakers Proposals.

I've asked several keynote speakers their pet peeves about filling out a call for speaker proposals. The most  challenging is the call for proposals that aren't clear what the organizers are looking for in a speaker.

Some call for speakers are designed to ask the same questions over and over which causes speakers to just cut and paste content into a spreadsheet. 

Many organizers create a call for speakers to create a fair way to assess potential keynote speakers. Some guest speakers won't have set content to cut and paste and may be overlooked. 

Filling out a call for speakers is a necessary ritual to be hired as a keynote speaker. I have filled out some really good Call for Speaker Proposals and some that are not as well designed, leaving out some critical information. 

Below are some of the key elements to include in a Call for Keynote Speakers:

Before anyone invests time filling out a call for speakers, clearly list speaker benefits in advance.  Do guest speakers get paid? Do they pay for registration, are you looking for local speakers, do you know the type of keynote speaker you are looking for ( funny keynote speaker, inspirational keynote speakers, celebrity speakers or industry experts)? 

Some events have a call for Keynote Speakers that is seperate from the call for Guest Speakers for break out sessions. Clarify how each type of speaker should apply. 

Outline the kind of speaking topics you are looking for. Let guest speakers know your conference theme and ask them to tie it into their proposal.

Clarify Conference Timelines. Indicate when the Call for Speakers is open until ( insert deadline), Apply online at ( insert URL) or fill out the attached word document. Speaker selection will be announced by ( insert date). This will avoid a lot of unnecessary questions back and forth by email from potential speakers.

Decide how you will collect information. If it is a word document, make sure it is editable and easy to save and share. I find Google Docs are easiest to fill out and share.

For Breakout Guest Speakers- Submissions are usually broken into Tracks, What Track does your speech best fit? ( some examples- leadership, technology, policy etc)

Here is the type of information you want to include:


Contact information: Phone, Email, Address, website, etc

Speaker Bio: ( limit word count)

Session Type: General Session  Keynote Speaker, Pre- Conference Session, half day Workshop, 90 Minute Break Out Session, Closing Keynote Motivational Speaker... etc.

Confirm the guest speakers availability for different dates or sessions.

What is the Audience Experience Level for their session, who is it designed for? Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced. Does the intended audience need specialized experience to keep up?

Topic Title: ( Maximum 20 Words) Catchy titles are good, just make sure they speak to the content.

Session Abstract/ Description( Maximum 200 Words)

4 Session Objectives ( What will attendees learn?) Answer the question... You will leave this session with...

Delivery: How will you teach these objectives? ( ie- Lecture, analogy, simulation, audience participation, Role Play, etc)

Why is this topic important to this audience?

How will you tie your speech content to our theme?

AV Requirements: ( Powerpoint, microphone, comfort screen, etc)

- Previous speaking references and contact information

- What size of audience are you comfortable speaking?

- Attach Sample Keynote Speakers Videos

Before closing off your call for speakers, make sure you have enough good submissions. If you don't you have to keep promoting it to your network on Social Media. 

Collect all keynote and guest speakers submissions and determine the clear winners. Next short list the rest of the speakers. Through this process you can layer out a great conference schedule. 



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