There is nothing more embarrassing than a guest showing up late and you having to cover for them last minute. Or the train wreck that is a guest sharing a message that is not aligned with what you teach.
As an event host, there is a lot to love about an event that runs like clockwork, right? You want your guest speakers to shine. You want them to align effortlessly with your event goals. You want them to amplify your event's impact. And today we're going to dive into guest speaker prep.
This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart because I've seen it go wrong so many times and it's not that hard to have it go right. So if you've ever wished for a smoother, worry-free experience where your guests know exactly where to be, what to prepare and how to elevate your event, then this episode is for you. You are in the right place. We're gonna talk about the common pitfalls. We're gonna talk about some practical strategies.
and ways to elevate your hosting game. So whether you host in-person events or virtual summits, this will equip you to host your guest speakers with ease. I love that word. I was recently the guest at a live event, a guest speaker at a live event, and I didn't know it.
So I was a guest on a podcast and I signed up to be a guest months ago. And during that time, I traveled all over the country and did a bajillion things because it was summer and I just was juggling tons of balls. And
I knew that this recording was on my calendar. I knew the calendar notice was there I even this was so pro team the
host of the podcast even had reminders go to my phone via text message and also had email reminders and the text messages were awesome because they were just like short concise to the point hey don't want you to forget you're on this show at this date at this time okay be there the emails on the other hand were
about a mile long each. And I was in a season where I was barely keeping my head above water. And you've been there, right? Please tell me you have. I'm not alone in this. And so there was a lot of emails that were getting skimmed instead of read in full. And I was...
balancing just so many things, doing so much travel, talking to so many people. And I'm guessing you can relate that you've had a season where it's been busy. And so there's things that you're aware of on the peripheral. Is that the right word? And you know it's there, but you're not fully invested in the outcome.
you're not fully invested in knowing every single detail. And that's how I was with this thing. I wanted to show up and do an amazing job of delivering value for this podcast host guests and hopefully helping to. Elevate their podcast and get them more subscribers, because isn't that what everyone, every podcast host wants more subscribers and also.
really to deliver incredible value for their guests and I wanted that too. But I just it wasn't it wasn't my thing so I wasn't on it like white on rice and so the day comes and I show up two minutes before the calendar notice. Let's pretend it was a noon
The host was already there and I was feeling proud of myself being early. And the host immediately jumped down my throat and got mad and was like, you run events. You know that if something's live that you should be there early. And why weren't you? And really taken aback because I was so proud of myself for being early.
because the calendar noticed that I'd be there at noon. And so I was there two minutes before noon, and for me, that's amazing. And I was instantly feeling sheepish, and it was as if the ego of the person who was hosting the show just needed to come out and put me in my place. And I want to just let you know right now, it didn't make me feel amazing knowing that I was about to go present.
We never want our guests to feel less than right before they present to our guests, right? So I, and then they went on to explain, well, you know, it was in the email, this is a live show and you should have been here earlier. And so I say all that to underline the fact that everyone's busy.
Everyone is busy and everyone has the best of intentions to show up and serve your guests with excellence and we need to help them out as the hosts of the event so that they can shine. And that is all about what we're going to talk about today. High level, we're talking we need clarity, we need conciseness and you know a plan and work the plan.
And so I'm going to give you all that today. But first, I want to talk about what could go wrong, because that'll be fun, right? So many things. If we don't get those pillars I just talked about, clarity and conciseness, and have a plan in place, if we don't get that stuff right, so many things could go wrong. So let's talk about them. Because I think.
that knowing what can go wrong can help give us the just that extra little bit of oomph and fuel we need to be like okay yeah I'm gonna start playing pro team here and prep my guests like a professional okay so stuff that can go wrong unclear expectations so if you fail to
who's in the room or key messages. It can leave guest speakers unsure about their roles and responsibilities. Second, insufficient briefing. So if you provide inadequate or like insufficient amounts of information about the event's goals or the schedule, it can lead
guest speakers to delivering something that's off topic, that is a train wreck, or slightly misaligned with what the rest of the content is. And that just always feels off to the audience. Let me give you an example of this. So I was at an event where I was the executive producer and the host of the event had one of their team members.
letting guests know about the event and kind of how to prepare them. And the host of the event had delegated to a team member and the team member had delegated to another team member. And so I was and I was greeting the guests backstage and we had a guest come in and they were like so excited to talk for 90 minutes. And I was like, oh um.
Yeah, awesome. So we've got 45 minutes for this segment. And a massive lineup behind you of other guest speakers. And it was like in the game of telephone, it hadn't been disseminated that the segment that they had was 45 and not 90. And so now in the moment, the guest speaker is panicked.
thinking, well, how do I collapse my content in half? And really spent those last few moments before, now we were able to give them a little bit more time, maybe I think an hour, but still they're shaving huge amounts of content off. And the mindset, the mind space that we had that guest in right before going live to a large audience was not great. I could tell how it just took them off their game.
I could tell how it made them nervous. I could tell how it made them think a little bit differently about the host of the event. And ultimately, this is about serving our guests, right? Our audience, and I feel like they got a disservice because the guest speaker had to, in that moment, cut things without being able to think.
as strategically about, okay, if I was going to do this talk in 60 minutes versus 90 or in 45 versus 90, this is what I would include or not include. Now this speaker was pro team, they were able to do it and they delivered with excellence and I was so amazed and it wasn't ideal. It didn't make anybody in the room feel great. So that's kind of this whole concept of insufficient briefing, more things that could go wrong.
Last minute changes. So if you make significant alterations to you, the event agenda without proper communication, it can get catch a speaker off guard and it can affect their performance just like we just talked about. Another thing, neglecting tech requirements. So if you overlook technical requirements like microphone setups or presentation size, it can lead to
day on the day, day of tech glitches and disruptions. What does that look like? Well, what if you fail to communicate to guests that instead of 16 nine, you're gonna be in four three, or instead of four three, you're gonna be in 69. Or let's say the speaker always comes with their own DJ and you were just not set up.
to be able to have those different, that set up ready and available to them. I mean, huge, right? So.
Tech is a big deal and I always encourage asking the speaker to have kind of a checklist inside of Live Vent Academy that I make sure event hosts use to prep guests, just kind of go through a quick checklist with their speakers to know, hey, we're using this style of mic, does that work for you? Oh no, okay, then we'll make sure we make arrangements. That kind of stuff.
Another thing that can go wrong, isn't this fun? Poor timing. So if you don't agree to your, that adhere to the agreed upon timing for your guest speaker slots, it can result in rushed or incomplete presentations. So for example, another client, they told me this story when I came on board saying, hey, we never want this to happen again.
They had an event in person and the guest speaker must not have been clear on the expectation that they had an hour for a keynote and they wrapped it up at 30 minutes. Well, the event host was off in the green room, not even in that room. And so no one was available to just like...
take the stage back over immediately. And as the guest speaker left the stage and no one was coming on, the guests got confused and they just started to leave before the event post was able to brush back in and save the day. But that doesn't look good. It doesn't make anybody look good. And it's confusing and it kind of ruins the vibe in the room, right?
So timing is everything and communicating that is so important. I mean, back to my example, well, then don't put a calendar notice on saying that our time together is from 12 to one, put a calendar notice that our time together is from 11.45 to one. If you want your guest speaker there at a certain time to
check mic and have some banter before going live, then you better make that clear. And there is no better way to do that than a calendar notice. I think there's a lot of us, myself included, who live or die by their calendars. And so if that's what it says, where I'm supposed to be and when I'm supposed to be, that that's what I'm gonna do. I don't.
Don't send me a calendar notice that has one time and then send me an email that says, I know I sent you a calendar notice that says one, but really we want you there 15 minutes early. Don't make it hard for me to do the math and figure it out. Just be clear. Another thing I could go wrong is if you have a lack of backup plans, if you fail to prepare for unforeseen circumstances and I.
I like to call this preventing problems before they become problems. We have a whole module on that inside of LiveVent Academy. Backup plans for things like speaker cancellations or tech failures can jeopardize an event's success. And so that's part of becoming pro team in the event space when it comes to guests is having backup plans and just having talked through, okay, well, if this happened, what would we do?
Another thing that could go wrong is inadequate rehearsals can lead to neglecting, either not doing them, which is so popular and drives me crazy, either not doing rehearsals or not failing to at least do kind of the bare minimum in a rehearsal.
with guest speakers can lead to unpolished or disjointed presentations. It just hit me so hard during the pandemic there was a concert outside, I want to say it was a Dell somewhere in LA and Oprah was kicking it off. I think these are the details and I remember I was watching Oprah's stories on Instagram and
the day before and she was talking to the camera as she was walking away from rehearsal and she had some story about how she saw someone famous once early in her career not do the rehearsal and mess something simple up on live and just told herself like I just never want to be that person. I'm never going to be that person. And so even though I've
used a teleprompter and used a mic and been live so many times, I've committed that a standard for me is that I show up for the rehearsal. And coming from someone who's so experienced, it really struck a chord with me how people who are pro team are that way because they
in the reps because they came to the rehearsals and that it's not above us to rehearse if it's good enough for Oprah, it's good enough for us and you know at some point it doesn't have to be a full run through it could just be like walking the space checking mic levels getting an understanding of who's introducing us who are we handing it off to when we're done
just the simple stuff, you have your executive producer run through that with your guest speakers. And so good, so good, so protein. All right, last thing I wanted to cover when it comes to stuff that could go wrong is this is the fun part of this episode, is I'm gonna call it limited feedback. So if we're not offering constructive feedback or guidance during the...
process of getting ready for the event, being clear with what we need, what we want them to do or not do, it can really hinder the guest speaker's performance and their ability to get better over time. What a gift that we can give people after they get off of our stage to say, hey, I loved it when you did this. And an opportunity.
for future stages is if you did this. And I think that's so smart to do that, to ask for that feedback as the guest speaker, but also to be brave enough to provide it, because you're doing them a service, right? And helping out future event hosts get even better guest speakers on their stages.
So now we've talked about all of the fun stuff, things that could go wrong. I wanna talk about.
clarity and conciseness, the importance of those two things in the guest speaker prep process. And I love to go back to Donald Miller's quote, if you confuse, you lose. I think ensuring that all communication with guest speakers is crystal clear, leaving no room for misunderstandings is so important. And also being concise.
guest speakers information in a succinct and straightforward manner, making it really easy for speakers to absorb. If you know that people are busy, and I guarantee you if someone is coming to speak on your stage they are busy because they're hustling, they're getting themselves onto stages, or if they're in demand enough to be asking to be on stages, they're busy. Let's just make that assumption.
And so let's provide the information that they need in a clear and concise manner. And this is professional. It reflects professionalism on the part of your business and team, which can really positively impact their ability to perform during your event and their ability to refer you, right? It's efficient.
when speakers receive information that's concise they can really quickly grasp the details that are essential that are VIP can save time on both sides questions right and prevent situations like I experienced recently where people are uncomfortable and it's
right? It helps ensure that guest speakers understand that the event has goals and this is what they are. This is who's in the room. This is our expectations of you as a guest speaker at our event and all of that really reduces the likelihood of any sort of misaligned content, any uncomfortable moments. You don't want anybody embarrassed or having to feel like we were putting them in their place.
It's just, it's not protein. So a few strategies for you. I think using bullets, like bullet points, is essential. Like present your important information, schedules, requirements in a bullet point format inside the email. This makes it easy for speakers to scan and absorb the key details. Okay. If you want to go a step further, you could present, prepare.
a brief on your event. We do this inside of Live Event Academy when it comes to
vendors is very popular. It can also be used with guest speakers. And I have this template on creating a brief about the event, kind of a one-pager that encapsulates all the essential information and things like the event goals and demographics of who's in the room,
and give it as an attachment to your email that has the bullet points. So good because if they want to dive deeper on some stuff, it's there in a really easy to print out, hold kind of fashion. Some people are paper people. I still like to print stuff. If you have the time and I recommend you make it.
do a pre-call with each guest speaker. And I know sometimes for sake of time, you have to do this as a group. If it's possible, do the one-on-one, but if you have to do it as a group call, go ahead. Or if you don't have time for that, but you could pre-record a video or audio message that you can send out.
from directly from you, the event host, to your guest speakers. I think that's important. You would go over all the stuff in the event brief. You would clarify any open questions or concerns. It's awesome. I had a client once who had a lot of high level speakers, probably 25 to 30 guest speakers at this couple day event.
It was a revolving door of speakers. They were all high profile from all different walks of life. And a lot of them were high profile positions in politics or in corporations or in sports. And they went the extra mile and scheduled
pre-call with every single guest speaker and that took a ton of time but I'll tell you that the alignment in message, in enthusiasm to be a part of like they were so enrolled in the vision and the mission of the event and clear on what they needed to do and when they needed to do it. It was just the event went so smoothly because of those pre-calls.
Even though it was highly complex with all of the speakers, the calls made it so it just felt so smooth and aligned. I loved that. So encourage it if you can make it happen. And I've given you a few options. You just do something pre-recorded, do something one-on-one or do something as a group, a group call, you have lots of options. Another is...
Email summaries if you have calls like that it is helpful to do a summary after the call of what you had talked about agreed to Or just people are busy and if you can be the note taker and send that out or have your team Do that on your behalf. I think that's super helpful calendar invites i've already preached on this one, but That is a really helpful strategy if you have I love to put the
calendar notice on a guest speaker's calendar and then in the meeting notice include all of the most important things just very collapsed but this is your emergency contact like this is their cell phone number and their email if anything's going wrong this is where you have to be and when you have to be there and this is what you have to bring or whatever the very most like
miss this pieces of information, repeat those in the calendar notice meeting and fight information section. And then encourage feedback, right? A feedback loop is always good so make sure there's open communications that they know who their point of contact is on your event team so that if they have questions they know how to and when they can reach out to this person. That's super important.
And just like I alluded to in that calendar notice, I like to tell people Who their Point of contact is for feedback at any point of this the planning process Including day of and if it's going to be different day of make sure that's clear
And then last thing that I think is a strategy that will serve you really well, look good on your organization, kind of elevate the professionalism with which you host events, is follow up. So.
Don't just send the one email or the obviously yes, the one calendar notice, but just the one email set, follow up with text messages, with a call, with another email, with reminder emails. You cannot, treat this like it's a webinar where you're going to make a sale, right? You're not just going to send one email that says, hey, we'd love to have you.
Join us on this day. Thanks for registering. No, you're gonna send them several reminders over the weeks and days and hours leading up to it. And I think having that level of follow-up will ensure that balls don't get dropped, will prevent the problems before they become problems. So that's all about.
essentially my soapbox on clarity and conciseness when it comes to preparing guest speakers. Now let's talk about making an effective plan and really tailoring the guest speaker experience. I think, and you may think that this is crazy, but I do think that every guest speaker needs a personalized experience. Yes, you're gonna make a plan.
of these are the like just non-negotiables but there will be some speakers where we just have to deviate from that plan because of who they are or what the circumstances might be and still be able to meet the goals of the event but we might have to tailor the experience a bit.
And I think that is done for a few reasons. First, speaker comfort. Some speakers may just need a little bit more handholding. And when you're able to do a pre-call, you're able to identify that pretty quickly. Are they ready for this experience? Do they need anything more from me or my team in order to make this a win-win for both of us?
And when guest speakers feel valued and supported, they're more likely to perform at their best during your event. And so it's important to gauge their comfort with what they're getting into, what you've asked them to do, and meeting them where they're at. Another reason why this matters, that whole tailoring the guest experience piece is content relevance. So I think it's important to...
understand what each speaker's content is and how it aligns with your event's goals and how it would resonate with your guests. And you might need to massage that a bit, right? And then also guest engagement is another reason why it's important to tailor the guest experience.
Yes, a well coordinated lineup of guest speakers with complimentary topics can engage your audience more effectively, but if we take it a layer deeper than that, I think that not every guest is meant to be a keynote speaker. They might perform best if it's more of a fireside chat with you and you and them and you're...
bouncing ideas and questions off of each other. Some people might perform better in a panel, some topics might perform better in a panel. And so we have to think about not trying to force a specific style of speaking on a guest. If what's important is the message, then let's tailor the guest experience.
the guest speakers experience and create an environment that allows them to win, okay? Now, I'm not saying that if you have a policy that guests are not bringing up pages and pages of notes or they're not reading from a teleprompter that you kind of deviate from that in order to have this speaker. I'm just saying, think about...
what would allow them to shine, what would allow their message to shine and how could we tailor their on-stage experience to ensure that what's important is that message gets out. I once had a client, it was a corporate client and they had a lot of very inexperienced speakers presenting very important information but
those speakers were subject matter experts, like just absolute rock stars on their subject matter. And it was important to the brand that their subject matter expert, their in-house subject matter expert was doing the talk on that thing. But their speaking skills were just not
as advanced as their expertise in the topic. And so what we agreed on was, well, let's use teleprompters because it's virtual, because we can. And then for extemporaneous stuff, where we're taking an inexperienced speaker and taking questions, we'll bring in a moderator to
help make it feel so much smoother. And it worked fabulously. And prior to that, they'd never, ever considered teleprompters, but.
Now, I think they probably wouldn't go back because it worked so well. They got the message out that they wanted to get out delivered by the person who's the subject matter expert and still able to deliver Q&A.
and have it be moderated so it felt natural and everyone won. The guest speaker felt proud of what they did and the brand got the message out that they wanted to get out. So yeah. So some strategies on this whole tailoring of the guest speaker's experience.
I think I would boil it down to one. I would just say make sure that you know your guest speaker well enough to know what you need and they need to set them up for success and don't feel rigid about or have expectations that it be done in one way.
The other thing I guess now I have two. The other thing is.
that's in terms of their day of performance. But in the lead up, if you're sensing that there's someone who is super, super busy and super high level and they have an assistant who handles all this for them, all these guest speaking engagements, well then...
modify your process and speak directly to their assistant. Have the pre-call with their assistant. Do the emails and the text reminders with their assistant knowing that their assistant is then going to take the information that they've received and deliver it to the guest speaker in the format that they've you know the system that they've worked out for these types of things. I think we have to be.
to be flexible on how we tailor this experience of communicating with each guest. The more guests we have and also the higher profile they are, you're going to find that this comes up. But when we're grounded in, hey, these are the essentials that we have to communicate and these are the amount of touch points that we need in order for our
event team to feel confident that the guest speaker knows where the ball is and when to when to be there and what to say all the things right that are important to you.
Okay, I hope that was helpful. I hope that hearing what could go wrong helped lock in why this is such an important topic. I hope the strategies I shared with you around clarity and conciseness and planning were helpful.
I think what this warrants is taking some time this week, maybe 30 minutes or so with your team and talk about what we just covered and kick off a system around prepping guests for your events. This is going back to that whole conversation we've had over and over again about preparing yourself to scale. This is one of those pieces that is kind of like you think about it once, decide what your standards are.
once create that SOP and then kind of wash rinse and repeat every event knowing that
it'll feel so good when you see your guest speaker shine at your next event. And you'll feel, when you feel that sense that it was effortless on your end, you'll know that you're on the right track. And I want that for you. So as always, if you have questions about what we covered or a scenario you wanna run past me to get advice, don't hesitate to drop me a direct message on Instagram.
I am here to help you level up your event hosting game. Thank you for joining me today. Make it an outstanding day and I will catch you in the next episode. Take care.