Meet the Speakers

Published on 3 April 2023

An article in the Changing Your Conversations: Changing Your Outcomes programme.

Meet the Speakers

As a Chair or Facilitator one of the best things you can do is to meet the speakers in advance of the event.  You get to know the people you'll be working with.  The speakers get to meet you and each other.  And the chemistry between you starts here.  And it begins to grow from there onwards.  And overall, the event benefits from a group that arrives well organised, in tune with each other and ready to deliver.

If this sounds good to you as a Chair or Facilitator, (or even an event organiser), here's a simple checklist of what to cover in this meeting to get the most from it.  The call only needs to take 30-minutes or so and can take place online.

Brief introductions

A 2-minute, brief, personal introductions and an elevator pitch by the speakers on what they are going to speak about.  As the Chair or Facilitator, highlight your background and connection with the area under discussion.


Image credit: John Scarrott

Emergency Questions

Ask each of the speakers to give you two questions that you can ask them. These act a safety nets should there be a space between audience questions.  And helps avoid any tumbleweed moment

Running time

Ask your speakers whether they plan to run to time, under time or whether they're finding it hard to meet the time deadline.  If they're running under time, the emergency questions can be useful.  If they're planning to run over, ask them by how much and then how they might adjust their presentation.  In all dcases it can be useful to agree on a discreet signal to indicate '5-minutes to go'.


what are they going to be using as part of their presentation? Slides are pretty standard, but there may aslo be audio/video involved.  Some speakers may plan to pause halfway through, run a poll amongst the audience or to check in on the chat (if online).  By knowing what each speaker has planned and what they need from you, you will be able to support them.

Any concerns

Is there anything bothering the speaker that they would like to raise in relation to delivering their part in the event.  If there is, you can note this and pass it on to the organiser, asking for their input.  Or you can offer support yourself should you be able to help.

This meeting is where a great speaking session can be made even greater and fulful its promise to the audience, the organiser and speakers.



John Scarrott
John Scarrott

Trainer and Coach, John Scarrott Training and Coaching

John Scarrott is a Trainer and Coach working with association professionals on their approach to speaking, chairing meetings, presentations, communication and influence. John is a former Membership Director, with over 25-years’ experience of making presentations. He is the retained trainer in Public Speaking and Presentation Skills for the AAE and also for the Institute of Data & Marketing. John is a professionally qualified coach with a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) Credential from the International Coach Federation. He has spoken in the UK and internationally working with association professionals across Europe and in India and Australia.