by Matt Alderton | April 26, 2019
The people who attend meetings and events are diverse in age, gender, race, ethnicity, ability and sexual orientation. If you want to successfully engage them, you need to recruit speakers who are just as diverse as they are, author Ken Sterling writes in an article for Northstar Meetings Group.

"The world is full of variety. So why do events so often feature speakers and panelists who are consistently just straight, white and male?" Sterling asks. "If you want to [succeed with attendees], you need to break up the old school fraternity and bring in more people who look like the real world."

If you want to diversity your speakers, the most effective thing you can do is diversify the group whose job is finding them, Sterling advises. "Panels tend to mirror the teams that create them," he says. "When you have all white men picking a panel, the panel tends to be all white men. But when you add diverse people to the planning committee, the panel will start to represent a more global view."

Tread lightly, though: You still should choose speakers based on their credentials, not which demographic boxes they check.

"Ask people to be on your panel because of their … point-of-view, not just because they are women, people of color, members of [the] LGBTQ community or indigenous people," Sterling concludes. "If you have singled these people out, it should be because of their expertise in their fields and their work has caught your eye."

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