How to Diversify Your Speaker Lineup

How to Plan a Meeting

At most meetings, attendees are a diverse bunch. Not only do they come from different cities, states and - oftentimes -- countries, but they also reflect different ages, genders, races, ethnicities and sexual orientations. Unfortunately, the same can't always be said of the speaker lineup.

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

An easy way to make your speaker lineup more diverse is to organize panels with diverse speakers on them. To do so, Sterling suggests assembling a more diverse planning committee.

"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."

Don't just add diversity to the panel to check a box, however; invite panelists to participate because of what they'll contribute.

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

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Questions, Comments, Suggestions?
Contact Successful Meetings Editor in Chief Vincent Alonzo with your "How To" ideas.