The North American International Detroit Auto Show is returning for the first time since 2019 and will feature an updated format. The event will center on Huntington Place in Detroit, as it has in previous years, but will also include activities and displays in the surrounding downtown area. The show will take place in the fall instead of the winter, allowing for the outdoor aspect.

While event formats have evolved a lot in the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, experts say hybrid events are here to stay.

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Melissa Park, founder and CEO of Melissa Park Events, told Forbes that while Zoom fatigue is preventing events from remaining entirely virtual, hybrid events ensure that events happen in some form while expanding reach. These types of events offer the best of both worlds.

No matter what format events take, expert voices always play a valuable role. Securing speaking opportunities for your subject matter experts (SMEs) lends your company visibility and credibility.

While matching SMEs to speaking opportunities can seem like a daunting task, a few high-level steps can get your company on track to earning top presentation and panel spots.

1. Identify Your Thought Leader and Create Your Story

While your company may be filled with people who are experts in a variety of topics, it’s important to consider the purpose of the event and your company’s communication goals. The ideal SME must be prepared to offer unique insight that is relevant to the event’s collective audience. Speakers who are experts in a niche area of focus should only be considered for a speaking opportunity that match a narrower focus, like a technical demonstration or panel.

After identifying the experts, it’s important to evaluate their comfortability with public speaking and presentations. Even the most knowledgeable executives must have excellent public speaking skills and the ability to answer questions on top of their expertise. They must also be reliable and punctual so all paperwork, rehearsals and the presentation itself flow smoothly.

Once you have your expert chosen, create a story that revolves around their area of expertise, and tie it to the theme of the presentation and larger event. Have them use real-life examples to show the significance of what your company is doing. A compelling narrative will keep your audience engaged and make your presentation and company memorable.

2. Know What’s Available and What’s Feasible

There are likely a myriad of events where your experts can contribute, and it’s important to keep them all on your company’s radar. Lengthy speaking proposals are often due months before an event, and you don’t want due dates sneaking up on you. Search for right-fit events with speaking opportunities at the end of each year for the upcoming year, and then do a sweep quarterly throughout the year to ensure you didn’t miss anything timely.

Also keep in mind your company’s bandwidth – every company has a limit to the number of events it can participate in, whether constraints are due to timing, budget, SME needs or the size of the event coordination team. Pitch speakers for the events that best meet your SME’s expertise and company’s mission and consider events that require various levels of commitment – SMEs who can’t present an entire keynote may be valuable as part of a panel discussion.

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3. Prepare the Rest of the Team

Even when everything is in place for the presentation, your work is not done just yet – any support staff who are attending the event must be briefed on the presentation and company messaging so they can answer questions from stakeholders and direct them to company resources as necessary. This is especially important if your company also has a booth at the event that attendees can visit to learn more.

It’s also helpful to make a recap of the presentation available online for those who are interested in your company’s work but did not have the opportunity to attend. A unified team supporting the speaker with a complete package of resources will leave a lasting impression on attendees and keep your business top-of-mind long after the event ends.

As the events landscape continues to evolve, your company can stay ahead of the curve by becoming and remaining a leading voice in the industry. By staying organized and supporting the executives speaking, your team can master presentations and keep your company top of mind.

Whether you’re gearing up for NAIAS or simply keeping events on your radar for the rest of 2022 and beyond, subscribe to our newsletter for the latest integrated communications best practices and trends.

Grace Turner is an Integrated Communications Specialist at Franco. Connect with her on LinkedIn