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Convening stakeholders from across the cultural sector is crucial for sharing ideas, promoting creativity, and growing networks.

But in the post-pandemic world, getting audiences to come out to an event or join a webinar can be challenging.

One way you can drive interest in your events is to select dynamic presenters and panelists who will help create buzz around a program and offer expertise that’s too good to miss. Here are a few tips for finding a guest speaker for your event.


Consider Your Audience

It’s important for presenters to be relevant to the audience and the overall theme of the event. Find an individual who not only has the relevant expertise, but can tailor their presentation to meet the needs and interests of your attendees.


Set Your Stipend

As artists and creative professionals, we know how crucial it is to compensate individuals for their talents. Offering a stipend (even a small one) to presenters acknowledges their expertise and shows your appreciation for their time. Try to proactively build-in stipends in your programmatic budget, but don’t feel obligated to break the bank. CultureSource offers stipends between $250–$500.


Plan Ahead

Many potential presenters have busy schedules with prior commitments so try to make contact as early as possible. This not only allows your presenter to adjust their schedule, but ensure you have enough time to seek alternate speakers if necessary. Planning ahead also ensures adequate time to promote your event—and avoid last-minute logistical challenges.


Seek Local Expertise

Often, the most insightful speakers are the ones found in your own community. Local expertise brings a deep understanding of community, culture, and specific needs of the audience. Speakers who are able to present insights grounded in local practice often resonate more effectively then national figures. Seek out community leaders who are experts in the trends and challenges facing your community—and who already have well-established networks that would be interested in attending an event they are speaking at. This in turn can help you grow your audience beyond any single convening.


Use Your Network

Ask people in your network who they’ve worked with before or who they’d recommend. A personal phone call or email is a good way to start, and don’t forget to leverage platforms such as LinkedIn to expand your reach.


Reach Out to Universities

Southeast Michigan is home to several renowned higher education institutions including; Wayne State University, University of Detroit Mercy, and the College for Creative Studies in Detroit; Oakland University in Rochester; Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti; and University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Many professors, lecturers, and PhD candidates are deeply invested in community engagement, and frequently seek opportunities to share their knowledge and research insights.


Leverage CultureSource Resources

Check out this list of CultureSource program partners, contractors, and peer organizations. These nonprofits and foundations are experts in everything from finance to philanthropy. You can also view the CultureSource Referral Directory to learn about speakers at our previous convenings, find potential panelists, and get contact information.

Finding presenters requires planning and networking, but can help enrich the event experience for your audience. We hope this guide will help you as you navigate the process of finding your next speaker, presenter, or panelist.