What is a Conference Speaker?

Malcolm Tatum

Conference speakers are individuals who are scheduled to offer addresses at various types of conferences, conventions, and other gatherings. A speaker of this type is usually a recognized authority in the subject matter he or she will present during the speaking engagement. Speakers may offer one or two key speeches or presentations during the course of the event, or serve as a conference keynote speaker toward the end of the conference.

Conference speakers are chosen for their expertise, presentation skills, and ability to motivate.
Conference speakers are chosen for their expertise, presentation skills, and ability to motivate.

There are a number of different settings in which the use of a conference speaker or speakers is considered desirable. Political gatherings, such as party conventions or local conferences sponsored by a community action group, often include the presence of at least one key speaker. Special interest gatherings, such as religious conventions, youth conferences, and special gatherings for men or women are also highly likely to include speeches by conference speakers. In like manner, there is likely to be a keynote speaker at graduation ceremonies involving colleges, universities, and many high schools.

Conference speakers may be present at graduation ceremonies.
Conference speakers may be present at graduation ceremonies.

Along with physical gatherings, virtual conferences also make use of a conference speaker or speakers. Utilizing the Internet as a platform, it is now possible to hold an audio teleconference that broadcasts an audio stream of the speaker’s remarks to participants all over the world. Enhancements to web conference technology since the middle 1990’s have made it possible to add a visual component to gatherings of this type, allowing attendees to see as well as hear the conference speaker. Formats like this have become increasingly popular as organizations look for ways to hold learning events without the expense of gathering hundreds of people at one physical location.

In general, speakers for conference events are chosen because of their expertise in a given subject deemed to be of interest to the conference attendees. The conference speaker may be someone who is affiliated with the sponsoring organization and is recognized as a leader. At other times, the conference speaker may be well known in a given industry and be called upon to expound on a related subject, with an eye toward informing and educating the attendees of the event.

Often, the subject matter addressed by a conference speaker will be highly relevant to those assembled. For example, a women’s conference speaker may address issues such as overcoming bias in the workplace. A speaker for a men’s conference may focus on balancing career and parenthood. Speakers at religious conferences often focus on some moral, doctrinal, or ethical issue that is currently of great interest to those assembled. In each case, the speaker’s presentation will be relevant to the subject matter of the conference and be intended to motivate, enlighten and in general be of value to everyone who hears the presentation.

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