How to Help Your Speakers Help You Pitch Your Event

Author: Michelle Russell       

Padraic Gilligan

Most business events market their speakers as a way to attract registrants — nothing new there. But to promote the Event of the Future, held July 20 in Dublin, organizers took it a step further. They asked the speakers to serve as ambassadors for the event, via Facebook, Twitter, and “a little bit of Instagram,” said the event’s organizer, Padraic Gilligan, who serves as managing partner at Dublin, Ireland–based event consultancy SoolNua. 

Professionals representing “the full spectrum of the events industry” were invited to speak on panel discussions at the event, Gilligan said. Those who accepted the invitation “came on board because they wanted to be part of what we pitched to them,” he said, “which was a big kind of discussion, debate, and dialogue around the future of events.” Each participating speaker was then was invited to answer the question of how they would envision the event of the future from the perspective of their own slice of the industry — such as food, technology, or AV. 

Gilligan partnered with ticketing platform Tito to recruit event attendees. While the event was in part a promotional opportunity for the host venue, Croke Park, “we imposed a nominal charge for tickets (€30) but also offered special codes to specific customers that allowed them to register for free,” he said. “This worked well overall, leading to a significantly smaller than normal no-show factor on the day — 320 registered but 275 showed up.”

Traffic was driven to the ticketing platform by a sustained Twitter and Facebook campaign focusing on the event’s content. The speakers were a big part of that campaign, introducing themselves with a short statement summarizing their view of the event of the future. They were given a helping hand by Gilligan’s team, who provided “a simple design to capture that simple phrase that they were going to use — at the core of what they were saying — with their picture,” he said. “That got a huge amount of traction because they obviously used it themselves then as well.” 

The effort, Gilligan said, was a success. “I suppose we were promoting them, and they were promoting the event,” he said. “It all integrated nicely into one single kind of focus, which is great.”