by Elise Schoening | December 04, 2019

Event success often hinges on the quality of the speakers. A top-notch closing keynote can keep attendees talking for months to come and drive up registration the following year. A poor speaker, on the other hand, has the potential to damage a conference's reputation. Try one of these creative ways to find the best speakers for your next meeting.

1. Check with the Local CVB

Convention & Visitors Bureaus are more than just a resource for establishing room blocks and providing promotional materials. They can also help connect planners to local vendors and speakers in the area. 

The Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau in Rhode Island, for example, has compiled an extensive Speaker Directory for event coordinators.

"Here in Providence, we realize that selecting compelling and relevant speakers can be a difficult -- and sometimes expensive -- process. With that in mind, we developed an online Speaker Directory," said Kristen Adamo, president & CEO of the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Our services team can link planners with local experts in a wide array of fields... Planners are able to draw on local talent, which saves them money on travel and accommodations, leaves less of an environmental footprint and gives the attendees more of the flavor of the destination."

2. Ask Attendees for Suggestions

Another option is to tap your attendees for ideas. Eventbrite, an online event-management platform, suggests sending a short survey out to previous attendees asking who they'd like to see on the convention stage. You can add incentives to the survey to boost submissions, such as offering discounted tickets or a meet-and-greet for those whose nomination is chosen.

3. Look for Thought Leaders

Social media can be a goldmine when it comes to sourcing speaker ideas. A little digging on LinkedIn and Twitter can turn up a handful of respected industry thought leaders. Consider joining top event professional groups on LinkedIn, such as Event Planning & Event Management, Event Marketing Pros and Successful Meetings, and take a look through popular Twitter hashtags like #eventprofs and #meetingplanners. There are more than 2.1 million LinkedIn Groups and 500 million tweets sent each day, so you'll want to monitor the social media sites regularly for fresh ideas. 

4. Search Speakers Bureaus

There are also a number of helpful presenter databases that can be mined for potential panelists and keynotes. Meeting Professionals International offers a Speaker Resource with more than 15,000 people to choose from. Event coordinators can search by name, topic or keyword, as well as filter results according to budget, availability and location. Rosters at speakers bureaus like Goodman Speakers run the gamut from celebrities to top trends watchers and more, and you can watch videos and read reviews to help winnow down the field. Other websites such as the National Speakers Association, SpeakerHub and SpeakerMatch can also be helpful.