Inviting a great speaker to participate in your upcoming conference, seminar, or meeting is an exciting opportunity. But there’s an art to extending that invitation properly and convincing them to say yes. Follow these tips to ask speakers to speak at your event the right way.

Research Potential Speakers Thoroughly
Before you make any requests, do your homework on speakers who may be a good fit. Review their background, expertise, and speaking topics to ensure they align well with your event’s goals and audience. Look for online video samples of their previous talks to evaluate if their style and delivery will resonate.

Time Your Request Appropriately
Once you’ve identified some strong speaker candidates, check their website or with their speakers’ bureau to see when they open up their calendar for event bookings. Inquire well in advance as popular speakers’ schedules can fill up a year or more in advance. But don’t jump the gun too soon either before your event details are finalized.

Make a Detailed, Personalized Pitch
When you do reach out with a speaker invitation, make sure your ask is compelling. Share specific background on your event’s mission, details on when and where it will be held, who comprises the expected audience, and why you think this speaker would be a great fit. Do your best to personalize the invitation rather than sending a generic form request.

Clarify Expectations and Terms
Be very clear about what you have in mind regarding their role and the session format. Will this be a keynote talk, workshop, panel, or something else? Approximately how long would their remarks need to be? Is this a paid opportunity or an unpaid/expenses-covered invitation? If there is an honorarium or fee involved, include details on that as well. Most speakers want these specifics ironed out from the start.

Make the Invitation Enticing
While you should be upfront about your budget constraints, look for ways to make your event an attractive speaking opportunity beyond just payment. Highlight potential opportunities like book sales, publicity and exposure for their business, or connecting with your organization’s audiences and stakeholders. Offering travel and accommodation coverage is another nice perk.

Respect Their Time and Response
Speakers often have packed schedules, so be patient yet politely persistent while awaiting their reply. If you don’t receive a response within a week or two of your invitation, follow up politely. Most speakers will at least provide a quick acknowledgement of your request and let you know if they need more time to consider it.

Follow basic etiquette like this, and you’ll increase your chances of securing top-notch speakers for your next big event. Setting proper expectations and making the invitation enticing is key.