Getting a speaker to come to your conference or seminar to give a speech begins with a carefully crafted speaker letter of invitation. Start here!
If you’re wondering how to invite someone to be a guest speaker at your event, we’ve got you covered! The perfect speaker invite letter will spark excitement in your first-choice speaker and inspire them to accept your invitation promptly and enthusiastically. In this blog, we’ll detail everything you need to know about how to invite a guest speaker, from the earliest planning stages to drafting a formal speaker invitation letter.
Why Invite a Guest Speaker
Having a guest speaker at your event can elevate the overall experience for your guests. Often, simply having a reputable guest speaker’s name attached to your event can add to the credibility of your conference or webinar. The right guest speaker can draw even bigger crowds to your event and, in sharing their expertise, add a level of excitement and prestige.
How to Invite a Guest Speaker
Reaching out to potential guest speakers can be a daunting task – after all, these are experts or even celebrities in their field! While drafting the perfect guest speaker invitation email or letter may seem challenging, breaking the process down into separate tasks can help.
Before you begin sending out any letters of invitation, you’ll want to create a list of speakers you’re interested in booking. Rank them by first choice (one or two top-choice speakers you’d be thrilled to have at your event,) second choice (two or three speakers you would be pleased to have at your event, but who are perhaps not as in-demand or impressive as your first choice speakers) and third choice (speakers you may be on the fence about having at your event.)
Once you have a completed, tiered list of potential guest speakers, create a general timeline for sending out your invitations. You should begin contacting potential speakers well in advance of your event, on the order of months or even a year beforehand. A phased approach is the wisest plan of action, and should look something like this:
- Send Out First Choice Invitations: Your first round of invitations should focus on your first-choice speakers. For especially sought-after speakers, it is important to notify them of your interest early to better your chances of fitting into their busy schedule.
- Wait for Replies: Decide on a set window of time during which you will wait for replies from your first-choice speakers. As your designated window starts to come to a close, feel free to send a gentle nudge to those who have not yet replied. If/when a speaker declines your invitation, send a gracious thank-you for considering it and move on.
- Assess & Send Out Second Choice Invitations: If a first-choice speaker replies to your invitation and accepts, congratulations! If not, once you’ve received responses from all your first-choice speakers, take a look at your list of second-choice speakers and send invitations to them.
- Rinse & Repeat!: Once you’ve sent another batch of invitations, you’ll repeat the “wait and reply” process until you receive an acceptance. If you’re lucky, you won’t have to look far beyond your first few second-choice speakers to get that exciting acceptance!
It’s important to have a realistic budget planned well in advance of sending your speaker invitations – after all, it would be tragic to get an acceptance from your first-choice speaker only to realize you can’t afford them! Do some research about the cost of hiring the speakers you’re interested in and the typical price range for a speaking engagement of your type, length, and topic. If you can offer additional perks to a potential speaker that may “sweeten the deal,” be sure to mention that to their agent or booker.
Once your speaker has accepted, you’ll likely jump on a phone call or Zoom call to further discuss the details of your event. The purpose of this call is to communicate your expectations of the speaker and, likewise, to familiarize them with the event and its goals.
You’ll want to be prepared with a brief overview of the event, including its date(s), location, purpose and audience, and be ready to discuss potential topics for the speaker’s presentation. If there are additional requirements for your speaker – for example, perhaps the organization hosting the event requires all speakers to provide a written outline or script for approval in advance of the event – be sure to share those as well.
During this call, ask the speaker if they have any needs they can share upfront, such as AV requirements for their presentation. Give them the opportunity to ask questions of you and provide as much information as you can. While you may not have all the logistics of the event set in stone at this time, share as much as you know (such as travel arrangements, accommodation details, etc.) and establish lines of communication for further coordination.
How to Approach a Guest Speaker
The lists have been made, the timeline has been set and the budget has been squared away – you’re ready to approach potential guest speakers! So, what’s the best way to do it? These days, email is the quickest and most direct way to contact prospects and therefore tends to be the preferred method for many popular speakers. A guest speaker’s website may list an email address or have a fill form available to reach out regarding guest speaking opportunities.
If an email address is listed, be sure to double-check who will be receiving the email, as it often will not be the speaker themselves. Sought-after speakers usually have an agent, manager, or publicist handle inquiries rather than deal with them directly. Make sure you know the first and last name of the person on the other end of your email before addressing your letter to them – otherwise, a simple “To the [SPEAKER’S NAME] team,” will do just fine!
Guest Speaker Invitation Email Template
A guest speaker invitation should include information relevant to the speaker regarding the event and speaking opportunity. It’s important that the speaker understands why they might be a good fit for your event, and why it could be beneficial to add your event to their calendar of appearances. More than that, though, your first interaction with a potential speaker should include the basics: What, when, where, and why.
Core Components of a Speaker Invitation:
- The name, date(s), and venue of the event
- The topic, theme or focus of the event
- Reasons why they would be an ideal speaker for your event
- Why it would benefit them
- How they can contact you
Invitation to Speak at a Conference Template
Below is a template for inviting a guest speaker that you may use to invite speakers to your conference, seminar or other corporate event. For each area in [brackets], sub in the details of your event. Feel free to customize this template to include additional information or personalization as you see fit!
I hope this message finds you well! I’m reaching out today with an exciting speaking opportunity for your consideration. I am honored to invite you to speak at [EVENT NAME], an event focused on [DESCRIPTION OF THE PURPOSE AND AUDIENCE OF YOUR EVENT.] The entire [EVENT NAME] team is enthusiastic about your work and feel you would be the perfect person to address our audience of like-minded professionals.
[EVENT NAME] will take place in [VENUE, INCLUDING CITY AND STATE] on [DATE(S)]. We are currently anticipating an audience of about [ATTENDEE ESTIMATE #]. Our goal is to [GOAL OF THE EVENT.] We believe your voice would be a critical addition to that conversation given your extensive work in [AREA OF EXPERTISE.] Your talk could be up to [#] minutes on any themes or topics you’re interested in – our team would be delighted to work with you in advance to hear your ideas and determine the particulars of your speech.
Please let us know by [DATE] whether you may be interested in joining us at [EVENT NAME] as a highly-anticipated speaker. Thank you for your time and consideration, and we very much look forward to hearing from you.
Inviting a Speaker for a Webinar
If you are inviting a speaker to a webinar or other video-call-based event, it’s important to make that clear in your initial invite letter. In the example template above, you may modify the first line(s) of the second paragraph like so: [EVENT NAME] is a virtual event that will take place on [DATE(S)]. Your speech would be streamed live to an audience of about [ATTENDEE ESTIMATE #] virtual attendees from all over the [STATE, NATION, WORLD, etc.]
Keynote Speaker Letter of Invitation
If you are inviting a guest speaker to be the keynote speaker at your event, your formal speaker invitation letter should convey the prestige of that position. Be sure to state early in your letter that your organization would be honored to host you as the keynote speaker of your event and detail your appreciation for the speaker’s body of work.
This is an ideal opportunity to express genuine admiration for specific papers the speaker has written or previous speeches they’ve delivered. Do not be overly effusive or casual, but do add some personalization to your invitation to help the reader see that you truly understand their unique impact on their area of expertise.
Because the title of keynote speaker is typically held in high regard, make sure to state toward the end of your letter what compensation, if any, your organization can offer the speaker, in addition to any other relevant perks, like travel and accommodation costs covered by your organization, meals covered, etc.
Get Your Speaker on Stage at Earle Brown Heritage Center
You’ve found the perfect speaker – now what? Time to get them on stage at Earle Brown! Our experienced team of event planners can help you mount an extraordinary corporate event featuring your guest speaker. With our wide variety of event spaces, full suite of AV equipment and tech, and hands-on support throughout your event, you can rest assured that your conference or seminar will be one to remember! Contact us today to get started!