4 Best Practices for Getting Presenters to Submit Their Materials
When it comes to getting things done on time, it’s not easy. It’s in our nature to wait until the last minute to do even the most important things like Christmas shopping or doing our taxes. And, there are many things in life we commit to, yet don’t follow through on such as: helping people move, paying bills on time or just walking the dog. We’re human, what can you expect? Managing our schedules and prioritizing our daily tasks is something we all could do better.
That said, presenters face these same “on time” and “commitment” challenges when it comes to getting their materials completed and submitted to the program chair or person in charge of collecting speaker materials.
To help those involved with collecting speaker content, I thought I would revisit one of Omnipress’ most downloaded tip sheets, “Dear Speaker… How to Get Your Speakers to Submit Their Materials” that share four best practices.
Best Practice #1: Help Your Speakers Understand the Personal Benefits
Your volunteer contributors have the best intentions, but sometimes they forget the value of their contributions. Be sure to remind your presenters of this value by including these points into your initial correspondence to improve contributor buy-in.
- Further Your Career – Getting published may help your career, and it helps build credibility among your peers. Many contributors find their participation leads to other professional opportunities, such as speaking engagements or consulting opportunities.
- Prepare Yourself for the Presentation – By preparing a written document, you can organize what you want to communicate. Remember to practice to be smooth with your delivery and to stay within any time limits.
- Help Your Audience – A written paper improves the comprehension of your information. Now your attendees can focus more on the content and less on copying slides. Remember – most people can absorb and remember about 15 percent of the spoken word.
- Make a Lasting Contribution – Your info becomes a permanent part of the association body of knowledge.
Best Practice #2: Help Your Speakers Understand the Benefits for Your Association and Attendees
The people who volunteer to contribute their time and knowledge to your association value their membership and involvement. Let them know how much their written contributions will mean to their organization. Include something like this:
We need your help! Our association and our attendees will benefit greatly from your contributions. Getting your material in on time will…
- Help our association meet a fundamental principle: to educate our members with the best info in the industry.
- Help us create a more meaningful learning and reference publication.
- Add to the perceived value of the conference experience.
- Excite new members to join and existing members to renew, since we can use leftover copies of the publication to reinforce retention and recruitment.
- Encourage attendees to join us at the next event because they can see the quality of our education.
- Assist attendees to comprehend all the material at an education-filled event.
- Provide a great reference tool for future use.
- Give attendees a better tool to choose the sessions they need to attend
Best Practice #3: Communicate Often and Stick to Deadlines
Sometimes getting tough is the only answer, but you can ease the process with great communication and incentives.
- Send Plenty of Reminders – Your authors have busy lives in addition to their work as volunteers for your organization. Don’t be shy about letting them know your deadlines for material. Use a variety of communication methods: phone, email and written correspondence.
- Be Tough – Consistency and firmness with the deadline is important. Speakers will take advantage if you let them, taking your focus and efforts from other important tasks. Speaker delays can cause shorter production timelines, expedited shipping and more money for you. History shows that speakers who don’t submit by the deadline never will – so waiting is often not worth the effort. Get an understanding of their commitment. The key question to ask is: “Are you submitting?” vs “When are you submitting?”
- Offer Consequences – Let them know they will have to bring their own handouts in bulk at their expense or establish a policy that non-contributing speakers will not receive speaker fees or reimbursement for travel.
- Offer Incentives – Let them know what they will receive if they get their material in on time.
Best Practice #4: Make Sure Leadership is Committed to the Content
Executive Directors, Conference Chairs and Session Chairs must be committed to the process of getting content in on time and be willing to help with contacting stragglers. Feel free to cut and paste these points into your event leadership orientation materials
Thank you for agreeing to be a (Conference Chair, Publications Chair, Session Chair, etc). Your help is needed to make sure our program is as complete and strong as possible. Here are a few reasons to make sure your speakers get their material in on time:
- Excellent Sessions Reflect Well on You – Excellent sessions begin with good speakers and well prepared content. Your ability to instill a high level of professionalism to the content submission process will reflect well on you with better sessions and more satisfied attendees. Good performance with one event program often leads to more prominent opportunities.
- Strong Leadership Raises the Bar – By making sure that contributing speakers understand the expectation of providing their content well prepared and on time only adds to the professionalism of the event you are running.
- Staying on Schedule Saves Money – Last minute materials or making arrangements to print on-site or post online later end up hurting the program, frustrating attendees and costing your organization money. Save money by keeping everyone in the process committed to the deadlines.