Leadership for students: How to request keynote speaker

The following post is a sample from Danny Rubin’s forthcoming book, Wait, How Do I Lead My Team?, a collection of 100+ writing guides for leadership.

The book features a section on writing skills for student leaders.

Here’s a template example.

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How to request keynote speakers or workshop presenters

As you plan a conference or event, you may be tasked with inviting people to be keynote speakers or workshop presenters.

Your outreach must be polite, brief and authentic so the person is encouraged to reply and consider being part of your program.

Here’s how.

Subject line: Interest in being a [what you want the person to do; for instance, “keynote speaker” or “workshop presenter”] for [name of event]

Hi [Mr./Ms. _____],

My name is [first and last name], and I am a/an/the [job title] with [name of student organization]. We are [short description of your group; for instance, “the leading student organization in the US for jobs in farming and agriculture”].

I’m writing to [the nature of your message; for instance, “invite you to be a keynote speaker at our National Conference over the weekend of October 5-7 in Kansas City, Missouri”].

[Then, provide at least one reason why you chose to ask this person to be part of the event and be specific; for instance, “I spent time on your website and enjoyed your blog, especially your post about entrepreneurship tips for people in the farming industry. Your advice about becoming an expert in a specialty or niche stuck with me.”]

NOTE: The section above is strategic. It’s not enough to tell the person, “I think you’re great!” Give a clear example, prove you did your homework and link to the person’s achievements to show you spent time in his/her world.

[Finally, include any details the person needs to know right now as he/she assesses the opportunity; for instance, “We still have openings for keynote speakers on October 6 and October 7. You would present for 90 minutes before a crowd of 2,500 students and teachers.”]

Here’s more information on our National Conference.

Please let me know your level of interest. I am happy to discuss logistics like travel and cost.


– Leader’s first and last name

Email signature

Deeper Insight

The email is courteous, informative and genuine all at once. Also, wherever you see bold text above is an example of a hyperlink.

While the person will be honored you reached out in the first place, your pitch is extra impressive when you demonstrate you did your homework (ex: “I spent time on your website … ”)

If the person is asked to present ten times a day, your request needs to be a cut above the competition. That’s why a special reference to the person’s work or recent accomplishment is the smart way to go.

The approach is gratifying to the speaker and helps you build trust even before you talk or meet in person.

This article first appeared on Dannyhrubin.com.