Guidelines for Gifting Conference Speakers

Conference gifting blogpost Meeting Application

Speakers are an essential part of any conference. They can be the difference makers between a mediocre and an awesome experience for the attendees. As soon as they step off the stage, they become unofficial ambassadors of your event to the world.

After all, keynoters have their own networks of contacts and will certainly create word-of-mouth promo for the conference, whether good or bad. It makes perfect sense to show appreciation for the work they put in, so in this post, I laid out guidelines for gifting conference speakers.

We all know coming up with ideas for presents can be a pain in the you know where. Your intentions are pure, but there’s so much potential for a disaster. Probably even more so in the business setting.

The kind of gift you’ll hand out to a speaker will be determined by:

  • the subject matter of the event – stay relevant, if possible
  • the number of speakers – gift all of them equally, never selectively, it will be another story if you only have one or two speakers, which will allow for more personalization
  • how well you know the person and are able to meet their taste
  • your budget (duh!)

You want to come off as a thoughtful professional. When trying to decide on what to gift a conference speaker, consider if the item’s meaningful, useful, and original.

The bare minimum

The very least you can do, which is still decent, is a thank you note for every one of the speakers at your event. It’s just awkward to not officially thank someone who’s been an essential part of the conference and put an effort into attracting an audience.

The way you present the letter matters too. Invest in branded stationery or consider framing the note. Just in case you’re not feeling very Shakespearean, here are some ideas for the actual content you can modify and adjust to your needs.

Tread carefully

Ahh, missed presents, every giver’s nightmare. An unwanted gift is doubly problematic, as it affects both parties involved. The business context complicates the situation even further.

First off, many companies have a gifting policy in place and require their representatives to be compliant. Usually, this means no expensive gifts or no gifts at all (Lucky you! Just kidding. 🙂 ). That said, before you decide on a gift, you may want to find out if the company whose rep you’re inviting to speak has such a policy.

Second, beware of ‘forbidden presents’. A good example here may be an attempt at gifting a bottle to an ex-alcoholic. Do some digging to find out if the recipient isn’t allergic to anything, or if there are any other items you should avoid for whatever reason. I suppose a blunder like this is unlikely, but still, keep this at the back of your head.

Speaker gift ideas

Now that you know what you absolutely should and shouldn’t do, let’s take a look at a number of actually great speaker gift ideas which, again, mostly fall into one of the following categories – they’re either useful, original, or meaningful in some way.

Mug

The thing is, everybody uses one. If yours will be cool enough, it may replace the speaker’s default mug and make his office colleagues say “Where’d you get that?”

Despite its simplicity, a mug can be something rare and exceptional. It’s an everyday object that can serve as a memento of the event the person’s been a proud part of (hopefully!).

Coffee voucher

Bordering on banal but who wouldn’t want a voucher he could easily redeem at coffee chain outlets all around the country?

Caffeine truly is one of the chief sources of energy for a lot of professionals, so I don’t see how you could go wrong with a voucher like this.

Luggage

Some of the people you’ll invite to give a presentation at your event may be professional speakers, meaning they travel quite a lot.

These folks will always be looking to optimize their travel-related efforts, so lightweight luggage or a multi-purpose backpack may prove to be really useful gifts to them.

Personal-branded items

Anyone who’s into style and fashion at all will admit that customized items are held in high regard for their uniqueness and originality.

From key chains, through leathery goods, to some of Nike’s iconic silhouettes – there’s a whole range of products you can personalize and gift to a conference speaker.

Powerbank

Somewhat on the travel-related note, a powerbank can be a great gift for someone heavily relying on electronic devices for his work.

You also may want to consider personalizing the device for the recipient, as this has become an increasingly popular practice.

Amazon gift card

If unsure what item to show your appreciation with, consider an Amazon gift card. There’s a large selection of them and they even come in cool packaging.

This can definitely be a budget option, allows you to gift all the speakers with the same thing, and helps avoid disappointment.

The takeaway

Audience-attracting speakers are definitely worthy of your special appreciation. Don’t let them leave empty-handed. Sure, they’re getting exposure for their brands and may be even paid, but you should still make that extra effort to show your gratitude.

You won’t be giving a super expensive gift anyway, as this isn’t a good business practice.

Make sure the gift is useful and can be easily transported by the speaker unless you’re ready to mail it to them later on. Good luck getting them back for another speech next year!


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