I’m very hands on with my speakers. My first year running a professional conference, I did not have any structure in place and pretty much let speakers do whatever. When my boss and the executive stakeholder looked at speakers scores, they were pretty disappointed because they knew it wasn’t that these speakers weren’t good speakers or they weren’t the right fit, but the presentations weren’t where they needed to be. I knew this too.
I developed a speaker process for my conferences. The basic outline is: 1) a topic call where we hash over the show process, show flow, audience demographics, and decide on topic direction; 2) topic title and description due date; 3) content / outline review (~1.5 months pre-show); 4) final deck deadline (at least 2 weeks pre-show); and 5) speaker stage tour (night before conference kicks off).
No deck goes on stage without my approval beforehand, and my a/v team knows this and work with me here. At all stages, I give speakers feedback – good and bad – and give them advice tailored to their speaking experience and the stages. Being able to focus on parts of talk creation, helps break apart it into manageable pieces and focus on making presentations better without being overwhelmed by the whole.
I have a bit of an A-type personality, and some speakers find me to be incredibly helpful and others find me excessively annoying and have complained up the ladder. Those were all things I had to work through, and I was able to point to speaker scores and overall show satisfaction going up to help ease executive stakeholder worries. It helped when speakers realized that they may find me a pain-in-the-butt, but they liked being told they just gave the best talk of their career by their peers and mentors in the audience.