How Guest Speakers Can Sink Your Project | Comp.7

After years of creating online events and watching quite a few as well, I’ve figured out that the guest speaker is a one of the most important reasons why these events succeed or fail. An event that looks as though everything in place, can in fact be a complete failure. 

When entrepreneurs create an online event or participate in one, there is an extensive checklist of things to do that make it all come together. The technical stuff can be challenging to pull together, the logistics of organizing all the speakers can be complicated and the content needs to be top notch.  This is all done in the hopes that the event will not only create great content, but it will get the attention of your true audience. 

When a podcaster interviews a guest speaker, they aren’t just looking for a great interview, they are expecting that the speaker shares it with their audience and that some of them will come check it out.  The anticipated result is that it will potentially help grow the podcasters audience and reach online. This scenario plays out in all the other types of collaborations such as webinars, panels and online summits. At the heart of all these events is the goal to grow their audience and email list.

The strategy is rock solid. It really works, and the only way it doesn’t work is when the event has no reach. The reach is the key to the whole thing. You can do as many interviews as you like and without any reach, nobody will notice. Your audience will be missing, and your list build will struggle to make any gains. 


The guest experts you need to interview have to be talented and knowledgeable about the topic. They should be professional in their approach, come to the interview prepared and they should be comfortable being interviewed. If your goal is to harness the audience of that guest speaker for exposure and growth, then they need to have a moderately sized, highly engaged email list or  following that you can tap into.


Creating online events is no small task. They take a lot of time and effort to build out the back end, the promotional assets and doing the interviews. You’ll have a bunch of deadlines to get it all done because you’re going to have to commit to a launch date. It’s not easy.

What I just don’t understand is why the interviewers don’t focus on the guest speakers they’ve selected to appear on the event more carefully. The concept of the event is built around the interviewer. You might get some credit for something that is well produced and there are several advantages to having someone who interviews very well and knows their stuff. Unfortunately, some guest speakers won’t have an audience show up for them. Their own audience doesn’t want to see or hear them. 


It could be one of a few things. 

  • They don’t have a following. They just might not have the numbers. It could be because they are just starting out or  nobody has discovered their message yet. Or… they really aren’t that good.
  • Their following doesn’t care. There are people who have huge email lists and large social media followings and they are simply not engaged with them. Their emails and posts get very few responses, actions or likes. And this could be for many reasons and none of them are good. (this is a subject for another blog)
  • They don’t promote to their following when they are involved in an event. This is one of the worst things that can happen. When a guest speaker decides they aren’t going to invite their audience to the event. What it means is they want the exposure the host is creating, and they aren’t willing to share their audience in return. It’s a very selfish act. It’s very easy to spot, and most of the time the guest speaker will dodge any ask by a host to promote. Or they just lie. Either way it makes the event suffer.

These examples play out more often than they should. Because in almost every case the guest speaker shouldn’t get the gig. Why would you give the opportunity to someone who really isn’t a draw? It won’t help the events main goal, which is exposure and growth. Too often people do not invest the time to thoroughly vet and select the right speakers for their event. Instead they rush through the task and just try to fill slots with people who seem to be on the right speaking points with the right audience or email list size. This is how I’ve seen a good marketing project go wrong.

There are a lot of people who would like to be interviewed. Of course, they want and need the exposure. But most of them don’t deserve it. Because they might not have the following yet, they might not be someone people would line up for or register to see. When a host gives someone like that a spot, they are likely wasting their time.

I know it sounds a bit harsh to the people trying to get their first few speaking opportunities, but they must be able to draw an audience to an event. It isn’t a talent show or some kind of superstar discovery competition. They must build their own audience and following and then bring them to the show. For the hosts, it’s important that if you’re going to make the effort and investment in an interview-based marketing project, you should make sure this main ingredient is of the quality you need it to be. If it isn’t, you get what you get.