Jennifer Schrafft is a Certified Professional Coach who does regular speaking engagements throughout the year. Recently, she participated as a speaker in two association conferences that I managed. I sat down with Jennifer to find out what makes a positive speaking engagement for her and how we can work together to create a mutually beneficial relationship as it relates to the event.

What are the main factors that contribute to whether you participate as an association conference speaker or not?

Connection: I like to know I can connect with an audience. If the association is investing their time and budget to hire professionals like myself who focus on developing the person, not only the product or service; I’m interested.

Location: If travel is involved, whether the association is willing to invest in bringing me says a lot.

Opportunity: Is there an opportunity to grow my business with this association or is it a one and done? It is more enticing to speak where there is possible interest on both sides for further engagements.

What type of information do you like to know about an association conference before you speak? What about its delegates?

What is their investment in the past two years regarding human development and where do they see the most need? Who are their other speakers (current and past) and how did they impact the group?

What are the delegates most hungry to fix about their careers/lives?

How can association conference managers work with speakers to help promote the event?

Good question. If you send speakers an easy to post/forward blurb about the conference, we don’t have to think about it – we can just post it. Make the call to action easy and clear.

Have you noticed any trends in the association conference world that affect your participation as a speaker?

I’ve heard that travel is being cut and that isn’t new, however the pay needs to balance out somewhere. I would say be clear what is included and isn’t from the start so the speaker can easily decide if it’s worth his/her time.

How does participating as a speaker at an association conference help you in your professional life?

I get to know my audience! This makes me more relevant each time I see them as I have a great cross section of this information. Associations are wonderful as they consist of so many different attendees. I get a breadth and depth of information and opinion that I don’t often get at a corporate conference. This helps me pulse check by region – what the trends are, the stumbling blocks and the level of support that is in each area.

For association conferences that have limited budgets, what are some other incentives that would entice you to participate as a speaker?

A suggestion would be offering complimentary video or photos of me during a talk. If you are already recording, you could write a reel of your speaker to use for further promotion, offer headshots etc.

Are there any specific incidents that can occur during the planning stages or onsite at an association conference that would impact your decision to participate again in a future year? Or not participate again?

If the room or audiovisual is bad or not prepped, I am not inspired to come back. I very much enjoy a smooth back of stage process so that all I have to deal with is showing up. Flexibility is wonderful.

Any other speaker gems you would like to share?

Enjoy yourself! If you are relaxed as an organizer, it will make the speaker feel that way and all with flow from there.

For a speaker, I would say show up early enough to test your sound, room set up and visualize your space and people. I like to do this the night before so I can run through with a clear visualization of the room and seating.

Remember – as a speaker if you are having fun and making an impact, people will feel it. Go out there, be yourself and treat your audience as the experts they are. Never talk down to your attendees or assume you know it all. We are all always learning!


Jennifer Schrafft, CPC, BA

Jen Schrafft is a Certified Professional Coach who inspires her clients to identify what’s getting in the way of real joy in their career and life. She trained to be a coach after 15 plus years in the event planning industry when she realized she was burning out and wanted to help smart, hardworking professionals who may also be spinning their wheels. As a facilitator, Jen creates a unique connection with her audience. Her ability to see the lighter side of stress and work while creating solutions and strategies leave attendees feeling empowered and inspired.