…Well, how do you do it?

Normally, the topic, rather than the speaker, is the draw for events and meetings.

But what if associations made the speaker the main focus?

Sure, many speakers perhaps aren’t too well-known, but what if your association used its online community to create a buzz? Have the speaker write guest posts for your association’s blog. Ask them to record a podcast your members can listen to beforehand. Make the speaker a celebrity among your members, and they’ll be energized to come listen to him or her speak.

Of course, creating a buzz means you and your speaker are going to have to deliver. Lots of pre-meeting excitement followed by a sub-par speaker is, well, a let-down. And your members aren’t spending their valuable time and money to listen to a lame speaker. Booking a speaker is a whole other blog post, but talk to him or her about how they engage attendees — those there in real life and those attending virtually, if that’s a possibility. Get his or her handouts before the event and post them on your Web site. Is live-streaming the session a possibility? If so, consider it.

Most organizations likely collect comments and feedback from their members after an event and use them when planning your next meeting. But what about asking some of your members to blog about their reflections and key takeaways? Keep the conversation going — it shouldn’t end when your meeting does. Are any of your members avid photographers (amateur or expert!)? Ask them to post their pictures on a Web site easily accessible by all members.

Even if live-streaming the session isn’t an option, record the speaker and stream the video from your association’s Web site. Keep a running dialogue of comments from attendees and compile their comments in one place.

Create a buzz with online tools before the event, and foster a dialogue event after the meeting is over. The 90 minutes spent in a session shouldn’t be the only time your members learn and discuss.