Time is money, and when it comes to managing your conference speakers—every second counts.
While using spreadsheets is a low lift and cost-saving option that "does the trick" can you really trust them to support the ever-changing demands on your conference?
Plain and simple: if your conference is growing, you will soon reach a stage where using spreadsheets is no longer feasible.
In this blog, we explore the top four hidden costs facing conferences that rely on spreadsheets for speaker management. We'll dive into the pros and cons of spreadsheets, how to know when it's time to make the move and a tech stack that can support your ever-changing needs.
- Pros to Spreadsheets for Speaker Management
- Cons to Spreadsheets for Speaker Management
- When Should Your Conference Break Up with Spreadsheets?
- 4 Hidden Costs Managing Speakers with Spreadsheets
- The Smarter Alternative to Spreadsheets for Speaker Management
Pros to Spreadsheets for Speaker Management
- Low Cost –Whether through google sheets or Airtable, you can simplify and consolidate complex operational processes at little to no cost.
- Flexible – You have a formula for just about anything and your team can easily add or remove columns to make updates on the fly.
- Shareable & Accessible – You can easily share among groups of people seamlessly without much barrier to entry.
Despite the obvious advantages of lower costs and flexibility, Spreadsheets make the speed, accuracy and collaboration required for success extremely challenging.
Cons to Spreadsheets for Speaker Management
- Collaboration & Communication — Spreadsheets fall short in terms of collaboration and communication. With Lennd, you can follow tasks in real-time to get notifications on progress or completion, approval directly, and more.
- Scalability & Speed – As your event operations grow in complexity, your technology need to scale at the same speed. Spreadsheets make it hard to operate on-the-go and don't translate well to a mobile-friendly event environment.
- Permissions & controls – While spreadsheets allow you to spread information far and wide, they make it difficult to drill down intro specific permissions to uphold the security of your event operations and access controls.
- Manual & repetitive work – Constantly playing catch up and operated with outdated data keeps you on a hamster wheel of inefficiencies. Not to mention, it's a bad look from the perspective of your speakers. Disorganization can cause frustrations, duplicate requests wastes their time and a bad experience could taint participation for future years.
Stop wasting valuable time and resources with legacy systems that keep you stuck in the past.
When Should Your Conference Break Up with Spreadsheets?
Despite the obvious advantages of lower costs and flexibility, spreadsheets make the speed, accuracy and collaboration required for success extremely challenging.
As a rule of thumb, we find it makes sense of conference to transition out of spreadsheets and into a dedicated speaker management platform when they fall into any of these criteria:
- # of event speakers: You have more than 25 event speakers
- # of event sessions: You have more than 25 content sessions
- # of FTEs (full time employees): You have more than two dedicated people managing the speaker management process full time on your team.
If your answer "yes" to any of these buckets - investing in a solution could pay dividends.
Beyond this general rule of thumb, here are a few other key signs it's time to transition away from the spreadsheets for speaker management at your conference:
↩️ You have to backtrack and sanity check your numbers all the way to the data sources manually.
🔒 Only a few staff understand the “web of spreadsheets” and become go-to-person for all data requests.
🙈 Staff is working in separate spreadsheets, which lead to contradicting insights that make alignment impossible.
😡 Reporting errors come to light too late and create embarrassing situations for “spreadsheet owners.”
To better understand where your current workflows are falling short, let's explore the top four areas where they are are costing you the most.
Avoid these hidden costs from operating live events with spreadsheets or Airtable
If you're still managing your speakers, abstracts and event content with spreadsheets you could be leaving more than just money on the table.
The top 4 areas where spreadsheets fall short include:
- Hidden Cost #1: Time delays & approval bottlenecks
- Hidden Cost #2: Miscommunication & duplication of efforts
- Hidden Cost #3: Lack of mobility or real-time data
- Hidden Cost #4: Reputation management with speaker talent
Hidden cost #1—Time delays & approval bottlenecks
Even the seemingly smallest of errors in a spreadsheet can have costly ramifications. When managing event speakers with Spreadsheets you're inevitably operating from the past.
Whether it's missing data, scheduling errors or missteps with approvals, spreadsheets don't easily integrate across multiple groups or teams, making it challenging to stay on the same page. You lose visibility you need to make accurate decisions and lack the foresight into potential logistical nightmares.
That all leads to time wasted tracking down the status of key items which means less efficient use of your staff and internal resources—which are already limited post-pandemic.
Hidden cost #2—Miscommunication & duplication of efforts
Did you know that a study by Mckinsey found that the average employee spends 28% of the work week just managing email and nearly 20% looking for internal information?
Tracking down email chains, slack chats, texts, notes, another google doc. Sharing and re-sharing. Resolving comments, putting out fires, updating statuses. You're juggling every channel to communicate efficiently and effectively.
Using static systems like Spreadsheets gives little to no visibility into the speaker onboarding process so you can monitor progress. As a result details are missed, communications slip through the cracks and it all reflects poorly on your conference in the eye's of your speaker.
Hidden cost #3—Lack of mobility or real-time data
Eleven times every hour. That's the number of times the average worker checks their email.
Anyone who works conferences knows how critical is it to always have the flexibility to work on-the-go. You need to be everywhere, all at once. Your ability to make accurate decisions on the fly is crucial for successful and smooth operations.
However, spreadsheets are notoriously difficult to navigate via mobile device. Considering that 44 percent of business professionals say they check the progress of their projects more than 20 times a day, the need for instant access to accurate progress is essential.
Hidden cost #4—Reputation management with speaker talent
Nothing says, "come speak at our cutting edge conference" like being sent to a google form...
When it comes to forging new connections to grow your conference, the experience means EVERYTHING. Landing your dream speaker can quickly turn into a logistical nightmare if you don't have the right processes and infrastructure in place to guide them on the complex journey.
The speaker experience happens in phases and over the course of weeks, often months. You need to ensure you have a system that keeps your internal team aligned, while giving speakers crystal clear visibility into what they need to be successful.
The right speaker management platform will support that end to end journey - which equals less headaches for your staff and more clarity for your speakers.
Using spreadsheets to manage your conference speakers? Time to upgrade
Now is the time to set new standards that bring rock solid infrastructure to your ever-changing speaker management processes. More than a spreadsheets, Lennd's speaker management solution is keeping conferences on the cutting-edge and saving them hours in the process.
Beyond time savings, streamlining your speaker management journey under one system will help your conference:
- Gain peace of mind knowing that your entire speaker management process is right at your fingertips in one intelligent portal.
- Reach people faster by eliminating communication bottlenecks that exist among your staff.
- Spend less time switching systems across multiple spreadsheets and tabs.
- Keep everyone accountable with workflows that remove you as the middleman and keep your speakers operating self-sufficienlty.
Pairing your operational know-how with Lennd's speaker management portal will revolutionize the way you manage conferences. Plus, you'll get more time back to focus on what matters most: building epic experiences.
Lennd is a technology company that builds infrastructure to help bring events of every size to life. From small music festivals to major conferences, sports gatherings and everything in between—event leaders across the globe trust our software to manage their event operations and provide their people with one streamlined experience.