4 September 2012 4 Comments
Conferences and symposiums live and die by the quality and wow-factor of their keynote speakers.
I’ve seen keynote line-ups that have me frantically searching for how to register, without caring how much it might cost. I felt I just had to be there to see that specific constellation of academic brains.
Securing keynote speakers is a process that isn’t particularly well covered in any career development material because it can be a niche concern.
For anyone who’s convened an event, though, it is the element that keeps you staring at ceilings until 4am in the morning, or has you tearing your hair out at your desk at 9pm at night.
Sometimes, securing keynotes can be ridiculously easy. One of the convening committee may know the perfect people – and I mean ‘know’ in the academic sense of having worked directly with them (e.g. as mentor/thesis examiner, co-editor, co-investigator).
This connected person just drops their high-flying buddies an email and – voila! – you have one or two stellar drawcards for your conference.
More often, however, you may have to take the more traditional and insecure route of a cold (occasionally tepid) approach, and invite Big Names with no ‘insider’ connections.
Here are my top five strategies for getting that Big Name to keynote at your event: