What a Conference Host Looks for in a Speaker

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What a doozy 2020 has been for in-person events, am I right?

While I know January 1st isn’t magical, I’m looking forward to the strike of midnight and 2021 to finally be here!

Back in May we had to cancel our 10th Round of Creative at Heart due to COVID-19 and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Now 5 months after that, I’m strapping on my conference-host hat and gearing up for a 10th round re-do!

We’ll be hosting Round 10 in Summer 2021 and can’t WAIT to finally be together again! You can join the waitlist here!

Creative at Heart hosted its first experience in January 2015. In the past 5 years, I’ve worked with over 150 educators (whether that be at our conference or through our membership community!).  

I pride myself on the atmosphere we have created at Creative at Heart and our educators are the face of the brand. While I might be the “voice” of C@H, they are the hands & feet. They are the women & men pouring into our attendees by sharing their skill-set & knowledge and doing it with an open heart. I tear up when I think of how much they have given to the C@H family. And it’s because of how much they impact our mission that I take great care into selected our lineup for each conference.

This year, for the first time EVER, we have an OFFICIAL call for speakers! Applications are open now – November 20 for our 2021 experience!

CLICK HERE to learn more & complete yours!

What a Conference Host Looks for in a Speaker 2021 // Creative at Heart #conference #inpersonretreat #hosting #herestothecreatives

Because of our current call for educators, I thought I’d share a bit about what I look for when selecting our educators.

Every host – whether it be for an in-person event or virtual one – has their own set of guidelines for selecting their lineup. Some have a consistent lineup every time the experience is held, providing growth through unity & dependency in content. Some won’t have the same speaker twice, providing diversity in content received! Creative at Heart likes to do a bit of both! As the conference host, my goal is to bring back educators that were “attendee favorites” while also creating space for new voices, stories & expertise! 

It’s important to understand my heart behind the C@H speaker lineup in order to understand why I have the guidelines I have. Just like it’s important for you to know Amber’s for Inspired Retreat, Logan’s for The School of Styling or Bonnie’s for illume retreat! We each operate differently & while I’m open to sharing what I personally look for in a speaker/educator, please know that others may look for something different.


What a Conference Host Looks for in a Speaker 2021 // Creative at Heart #conference #inpersonretreat #hosting #herestothecreatives


5 Questions I ask myself when looking at potential educators: 

Has the person attended C@H?

I love supporting the C@H family – they understand the community because they are currently in the community. So many of our attendees have become panelists or speakers at future conferences because they took what they learned during their conference & grew leaps & bounds!! They know what C@H is all about & want to give back. I love that!!! And I want to help them do it as best I can!

Do they showcase the C@H brand in their business on a regular basis?

I’m not talking about what our brand looks like (I know some of our educators don’t love pink – gasp!)I’m referring to what our brand stands for, what it means and what it feels like. Every educator (whether they be a keynote breakout or panelist) needs to uphold our brand values throughout their own brand, and seek to encourage & equip our attendees both on & off the stage. 

Our conference is unique in that we combine practical, tactical business AND “all the feels” (thanks for putting it in the most perfect way, Ash!); I need to know our educators understand that in the fullest, and our willing to not only share biz advice but also get down in the trenches with our attendees to encourage their hearts just as much as their minds. 

What are they bringing that is unique? 

At Creative at Heart, I want to showcase diverse backgrounds, stories, experiences & expertise. As a conference, we place a heavy emphasis on ALL creatives, and in order to truly welcome all into our home I want our attendees to see women & men who look like them, share common interests with them and also share similar business ventures. Because of all of that, it is of the utmost importance for me to have an educator lineup that is diverse in a variety of ways! When reviewing applications, I hope your unique story, viewpoint, background & spin on content shines through!

Do they have video content on their blog, website or instagram?

Another crucial question – and one I research thoroughly (and ask for on the application!!). We have all had teachers that know their stuff, but bore us to death! Just because you are good at something does not mean you can articulate it enough to teach it. I always ask: Does this person shy away from public speaking? Do they know how to address a crowd? Can they speak professionally yet personally about their topic?

Now, you don’t have get fancy with your video content. You don’t need a video trailer on your website or even a YouTube channel. Really, insta-story is the EASIEST way to showcase yourself on video – both your content AND your day-to-day!! When reviewing a potential speaker, I will follow along on insta-story for days or weeks at a time to get a better feel for who they are, what they’re about & how they articulate themselves!

How have they connected with me?

We all know what it feels like to be “pitched” to… and sometimes it can be very icky. It can leave you feeling like you’re only being used to further their platform, not your own. While I do want our educators to further their platform – and I believe in using the C@H platform to help them do just that – it needs to be mutually beneficial.

When you’re applying to speak at a conference (whether via an application or an email), make sure you’ve connected in the past! Follow along on IG. Show up in their DM’s. If you see them at another in-person event, say hi! Make it personal.

The key is CONNECTION. Make a connection. Reach out. Introduce. Share common friends, colleagues or likes/dislikes. Make a genuine effort to get to know them & their organization. Just like I’m trying to determine if an educator is a good fit for Creative at Heart, YOU should determine if Creative at Heart (or any conference) is a good fit for YOU! (Yes, I have had speakers decide that it wasn’t a good fit all around & we’ve parted ways with no hard feelings!) Do some research & make that connection FIRST; it’ll help both parties in the long run!


If you’re interested in applying to speak at Round 10 in 2021, you can find the application here!! 


PS. a little note: this post was originally published in 2017; I’ve updated it so it’s even more relevant in 2020! 


What a Conference Host Looks for in a Speaker 2021 // Creative at Heart #conference #inpersonretreat #hosting #herestothecreatives


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