Ten Ways to Find Speakers for Meetups

Ten Ways to Find Speakers for Meetups

To wrap up our articles on tech meetups and tech formats we look at some ways to find those ever-elusive speakers.

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1) Look Within your Group

The easiest place to find speakers is in your own meetup. Ask your members and co-organisers if any would like to speak and listen for people who are passionate or knowledgeable about a particular subject so you can ask them specifically.

Many speakers of Data Science Exeter and Exeter Python came from our own ranks. For Data Science Exeter we used to have the co-organisers all keep a short talk to use as a backup in case others didn't turn up.

2) Look Locally

Look for people near to where your are based, as a speaker is more likely to travel 5 miles than 500 to give a talk to 10 or 20 people. They are also more likely to have heard of your meetup or know others that go there.

Consider asking co-workers, local companies, people at your other meetups, friends and previous co-workers.

3) Look in Your Network

Search your network of people you have worked with, respect or collaborated with. Ask them if they want to give a talk or know anyone interested. Either in person or on social media is fine.

You can use the networks for your co-organisers too if you have them.

4) Target Particular Topics

When making a call for speakers consider targeting a particular topic or topic area. I did this with the .NET Meetup giving three or four topics that were being requested and got offers of speakers for F# (from one of our members) and Umbraco (from social media).

5) Target People at Conferences

If you go to a conference, then keep an eye out for other speakers or attendees who might be willing to talk. Look for members of your own meetup at the same event, speakers who are promoting something or are actively travelling around. Lastly people who ask questions are quite often good targets for becoming speakers.

If the event has sponsors then they are often keen to speak at meetups, as they care enough to pay to support a conference and turn up there. I've done this, recently asking a few people at PyCon conferences if they would like to speak to us.

6) Target Speakers from Other Meetups

If you go to another meetup and like a speaker, ask if they want to speak at your own event too. On meetup.com and related sites you can find meetups similar to yours, scanning through the list of past speakers you could contact. If you are lucky you may find videos of their past talks too.

You could also contact the organisers direct, asking for introductions and offering suggestions from your own experiences.

7) Use Speakers who Contact You

Potential speakers will contact you to suggest talks, so be open to each suggestion. If not what you're looking for, consider pointing them to another meetup or ask them to revise it.

Be flexible about the events and topics you want as some of the best talks aren't always the obvious ones.

8) Use Established Speakers

If only occasionally it can be good to get a well-known speaker to your meetup. They will often draw more people to the meetup, especially those who haven't yet tried the meetup. Also many have their own social network that they will promote their talk to.

Keep an eye out for established speakers who might be in your area for a conference, meeting or other speaking engagement. Also be open to working with other meetups for a larger venue or event, to boost numbers and maybe spread costs.

9) Use Speakers More Than Once

If you've been running your meetup for a while then get past speakers back for more. Look through your past events and consider who was popular, thought-provoking or might have a natural follow-up event.

This can be especially effective if you have taken over an existing meetup as it reduces the amount you need to organise for your first events.

10) Make it Easy for First-Time Speakers

If you are trying to attract or encourage first time speakers make it easier for them. Suggest topics you think might suit them and have slots available for short talks.

Both Short Talks and Lightning Talks are formats that facilitate these opportunities as we looked at in Tech Talk formats. They are likely to encourage others to speak who might not otherwise do so.


So we've looked at 10 ways to find speakers but there are surely more.

Share methods you've used to find speakers in the comments here or at @DuncanThom on Twitter


Duncan Thomson

A Remote Software and Database Contractor specialised in Umbraco, Duncan works from wherever he finds himself. He is the co-organiser of the Python Exeter and Data Science Exeter meetup groups and speaks about Remote Working, Umbraco, Python and .NET Outside of work he is keen on travel, random generation, foreign languages and good food.

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