If you don’t think that adding melanin to your speaker lineup will increase your event’s profitability, then stick around and I’ll prove it to you. Let’s dive in.
So on this website I talk about how to plan a profitable live event. So you may be wondering what in the world does a speaker line-up have anything to do with my live event’s profitability? Well, I am here to tell you that it has a whole lot to do with it, and today more than ever. Gone are the days when an event organizer I can get away with having an all white speaker lineup. Ain't nobody got time for that anymore! Today, anybody and their mama will call you out if you have posted an Instagram post of your speaker line-up and all of them are white. Heck they might even call you out if you only have one black person or person of color on there. In 2020 entrepreneurs are searching for ways to be more intentional with creating a diverse business, a diverse clientele, and if you are an organizer, a diverse speaker lineup.
When you have a diverse speaker lineup, you are putting it out there that anyone is welcome at your live event. You are especially saying this to black women and women of color. When they see speakers who look like them in your speaker lineup, it makes them feel comfortable that there are women who are teaching that look like them, and more importantly, the attendee list may look like them as a result. There is nothing more uncomfortable than being the only black woman at an event where there are only white people. I have been at an event where I was the only black person. The event had about 50 people. Back then I had a head full of hair so my Afro was out, and I wore a yellow dress. You could spot me from a mile away. I didn’t feel comfortable there at all. So as an event organizer you are responsible for creating an environment where everyone will feel welcome. If you’re struggling a bit with how to create a diverse speaker line-up, don’t worry girl, I got you! In this article I am going to give you three ways to help you add some melanin to your speaker lineup.
All of these ways begin with the letter F so that it’s easy to remember. The first F is follow. First, I want you to take a second and write down all of the business relationships you have with women in different Industries. Second, write down the industries. So these could be the wedding industry, the virtual assistant industry, the designer industry, etc. Pay attention to who they are. If they are all white, then you need to go and start following some black women and women of color in those specific industries. Don't be shy either. If you need to reach out to a black friend or white friend in a different industry to recommend some amazing black and women of color to follow, then go ahead and reach out to them. If you don't know, then you don't know. There's no reason to be embarrassed about that. What's important is that you are taking the necessary steps to follow black and women of color in those specific industries. Also, think about industries that you frequent. So, are you a designer and hang around a lot of designers? Are you a lawyer and have a lot of lawyer friends? Do you often run around photography circles? Whatever industries you frequent the most, start there since that will be comfortable for you. Following and connecting will be easier since you’ll speak the same language as the other person.
The second F is familiarize. Once you have made a list of black and women of color to follow and you’ve started digging in their social media, familiarize yourself with what they do, the services they offer, the products they sell, and the content that they put out. Also feel free to go to their website and really dig deep. Don't be limited to their social media accounts. The end result is to form relationships with them. While you're getting to know who they are and what they do, take note of who's following them and who they follow. This gives you an opportunity to get to know even more black and women of color. Not only would you have an opportunity to be exposed to more black and women of color, but you may even be surprised that you run in the same circles. I can't tell you how many times someone started following me on Instagram, and I click on their profile to learn more about them, and I see that we have the same people in common. We run in the same circles. So you’d be surprised by that.
The third F is form. And I alluded to it in the second F. Don't think that once you follow them and familiarize yourself with their business, that that's all. That you don't need to do anything else. That’s only the beginning. Once you've done steps 1 and 2, the next step is for you to form relationships with these fabulous women. Being in the online industry, we all learned how to reach out to someone that we either want to collaborate with, or connect with. So it is as simple as sending a message in the DM, or sending an email if you'd prefer to be more formal. If that may be too big of a jump for you, try engaging in the comment section under one of their photos or one of your posts. It's okay to start there. I think the most important thing is for you to be comfortable in building genuine relationships. The point of this exercise is not just to add some melanin to your speaker lineup, but also to add some diversity to your connections and business relationships.
Once you've completed these three steps, asking that black woman or woman of color to be an educator at your live event will be a no-brainer to them and frankly, to you. They won't feel as though you are asking because you are looking for a black woman or woman of colour to add to your speaker lineup. Like a checkbox item. Instead, it will seem like exactly what it is. You took the time to follow, familiarize and form a genuine relationship, and that you were being intentional about it. After a while, forming relationships with black women and women of color will become natural. And you will naturally have a diverse speaker lineup, every single time.
Yes this article was centered around Black women and women of colour, but you can take the same concept and apply it to different groups as you become more intentional about being inclusive.
It walks you through each planning element from A to Z.