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The Power of Saying YES to a WikiStage Talk Request!

In 2013 I have taught a Public Speaking course at the Teacher Education College in Southern Algeria. The class was an opportunity for me to help learners be outspoken and use communicative skills for social change. One of the topics that I discussed with my students was the importance of saying “no”. At that time, I was inciting them to say no to tyranny and oppression and also to learn to say no when they are not ready to commit. Often, out of shyness or complacency, we say yes to everything and then under-deliver what we promised.   After that, I left to finish my doctorate at Syracuse University in the US. Towards the end of my stay, I was approached by one of my bright students telling me how transformative “learning to say no" was to her. She said: "I am going to say no to an opportunity that was waiting for me and my team". I said: "Wait!” I changed my mind. After a lot of pondering I discovered that I was wrong. I told her: “Say yes!” Because I came to realize we live in a world with shrinking opportunities. After her apparent confusion, she said: "Sounds great! And by the way, we are organizing a WikiStage event in Djelfa and we would love if you can come and talk". I immediately said “no”. I could see clearly that she was very confused because she was certain I was going to walk the talk and say “yes”. She told me: “First you teach us to say no, now you are telling me to say yes and when I ask you, you say no.” Out of embarrassment and in an effort to be the role model I should be, I said yes and embroiled myself into podium panic!   It took me a long time to choose my title. I wanted a positive topic to navigate the ocean of despair and negativity that I think prevails among Algerian youth scene after the frustrations of the Arab awakening. I wanted a topic that speaks to the audience that shares with me the same impoverished background. The talk location was just 50 km from my birthplace. I was born and raised in a region in Algeria with a lot of poverty, despair, school drop-outs, and deteriorating infrastructure. I wanted to share my success story with one idea that seemed to be the basis for all my breakthroughs.   After a lot of hesitation, I had the “eureka” moment! “The Power of Saying Yes” is a big idea. Fast-forward to the day of the presentation, I talked about how saying yes to helping people, saying yes to opportunities and engagement boomeranged in my life and enriched my CV without initially intending it, diversified my background and led me to where I am today - an education specialist and project manager in leading international institutes. My main cry was: “Say YES, do good things, they will come back and haunt you in a positive way.” When Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook, he did not think of creating a company. I watched him say in one of the interviews: "I was convinced that someone will someday build something like Facebook for the world, but not me". He thought that it would be a company that already had thousands of engineers. He spoke about all the social pressures that he had. But saying yes led him to be a billionaire, and most importantly a game-changer in the 21st century. I concluded my talk by emphasizing the importance of relationships and how treating people with respect and kindness will also boomerang in a very serendipitous way. The last slide was a quote that really changed my life. Mark Twain once said: "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe Harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”   When young activists do this, they’ll have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Only the sky will be the limit!

How to find speakers for your event?

Finding someone who can connect with your audience, be it an entrepreneur, a scientist, an artist, a community leader or a local hero is essential. WikiTalks are at the very heart of WikiStage and it is extremely important to find the right speakers for your event. Before you start, here are two questions to ask yourself:       Who is my audience? Think of what issues or concerns they want to address, what problems they would want to be solved, or what is their passion?   What do you want from your speaker? Decide what you expect them to bring to your event, and how they are going to help you achieve your goals. Is it to motivate, educate or entertain your audience?     When you define answers to these two questions, you are ready to start. Here are some tips on how to find matching speakers for your WikiStage event:    1. Use your own network Your colleagues and friends may be able to refer you to a speaker that they have personally seen in action or they personally know. Also, you could find expert speakers by connecting with organizations and clubs in your field.   2.  Use the Internet Start with searching through your LinkedIn network of mutual contacts, YouTube and other social media. Seek out professionals who are developing content that is being read and shared by readers online.   3. Check your local university Professors can be ideal speakers because they are skilled communicators and educators. Also, many universities have a speakers bureau that connects conferences and event organizers like you with professionals interested in speaking opportunities.   4.  Look to nonprofits in your area Leaders in NGO are often very active in the community and are likely to share their experience. Consider a local nonprofit as a potential resource for a speaker.   5. Attendee feedback Always keep the desires of attendees in mind. Collect attendee feedback to see if they can recommend a speaker they are interested in hearing from.   As an event organizer, you are well aware of the role that speakers can play in the success of your event. Event organizers often tell us that they find it more difficult to find women speakers. Nevertheless, we think is worth the extra effort to look for great female speakers. A good mix and balance is a very enriching ingredient in every WikiStage conference. If you get a line-up of who can deliver excellent content to your audience, then you’re likely to have a very successful event. 

How to find sponsors for your event?

Even though finding sponsors is just one piece to the event puzzle, it’s vital for your event. For many event organizers, potential sponsors are hard to find. Providing sponsorship involves a lot of hustle compared to other organizational initiatives. But this doesn’t have always to be so difficult. Follow this 4-step guide that will help you find sponsors, and build smart relationships with them, one step at a time:                                             1.   Build a list of potential sponsors   The first step is to create a list of sponsors. Here you should think about - who could be interested to support your event?   When researching potential sponsors, start with your personal network. Then find out who has sponsored similar events in your city in the past and which companies would be interested to be presented to your audience. Contact the companies from your list to ask who makes sponsorship decisions, so that your proposal goes to the right person. As you build your list, create a spreadsheet to keep track of your outreach progress.     2.   Make the first contact online   The first email you will send to potential sponsors should be concise and to the point. Let them know why you chose to reach out to them specifically, and most important - give them the answer to the question: why should they sponsor your event?   Provide them with the next information:   -Your event’s mission or cause (what differentiates your event from others) -Your event’s audience (show how many people a sponsor could reach and what defines your audience) - How they will benefit (on-stage announcements, logo placements, website marketing, email marketing, social media/press mentions, etc.)   At the end of the email request for a short meeting, so you can work together to customize your proposal.   3.    Follow up with those who didn’t respond   It’s important to remain consistent and maintain close contact, especially when you don’t hear back from your leads right away. Simple statements that require a short feedback work the best here. Sometimes your prospects simply don’t like what you’re offering. Try to provide as many alternatives as possible, whether it’s about the channel of communication, your sponsorship package, or any other important aspects of the pitch.   4.   Measure ROI data and present it to the sponsors after the event    After the event is finished, be prepared to supply each of your sponsors with evidence that you fulfilled your commitments to them. This can be done by: - taking photos - uploading WikiTalk videos on the YouTube Channel and sharing links with sponsors - monitoring media coverage - headcount - social media mentions - attendee data collected (satisfaction, pre/post awareness, etc.) - unique website visitors   or any other evidence that proves your event was successful.   Securing event sponsors is never an easy task, but with the right resources and strategy, this can be much simpler and more enjoyable than you expect. The secret to how to get event sponsors is to understand their needs and be flexible enough to meet them. And in the end, your main goal is to organize an exceptional event that people will enjoy and talk about!

WikiStage in Videos

About WikiStage

Ideas for Change

WikiStage is a global community of people who believe that individuals who speak up can inspire positive change in the world. We believe that our voices can contribute to a world where peace, solidarity, democracy, human rights and the protection of our planet become a reality.

We are an open community and at the heart of our group are the volunteer WikiStage Conference Organisers who until today have organised more than 100 conferences in over 10 countries. If you want to give a stage to people who make the difference, organise a WikiStage Event to amplify their message through our community.

WikiStage.org is run by people like you who create playlists about important issues and nominate speakers to enrich our video platform. Explore WikiStage to get inspired and discover a world of possibilities.

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