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A Sponsor Pile Up


Sponsorships are a vital component of a successful event. However, it has become common practice for sponsors to speak onstage in order to gain visibility, rather than just showcasing their logos on signs. While a couple of sponsors are easy to work into programming, it can quickly become challenging when stage time becomes a main sponsorship opportunity. Not only do talking heads with sales pitches become completely disjointed from the intended messaging, but it is also a quick way to lose your audience. LAI Live has encountered this challenge several times as of late and has developed some unique game changers, keeping the programming lively while still providing that visibility.

Hot Seat

Rather than placing your sponsor at the podium with a clicker, have your emcee or chosen talent interview them onstage. The two can sit together and have an open discussion about the sponsor’s company’s mission or they can do a rapid-fire interview. Not only is this more engaging but it’s a subtle yet easy way to simultaneously tie the sponsorship into your session’s messaging. We have found that once introduced to the idea, sponsors actually chose this approach over the standard remarks.

Satellite Stage

Every now and then, you have someone that is just more comfortable being stationed at a podium. If that’s the case, try adding a little more excitement to the segment by placing them on a satellite stage. A small stage can be placed discreetly in the room, where it is barely noticed by the audience upon entry. When it’s time for your sponsor to speak, the lights can go out on the mainstage and pop up on the satellite stage. Not only is this approach memorable for the audience but if the stage is placed at the back of the room, the back row unexpectedly becomes the front, making those attendees feel more a part of the production.

Walk the Catwalk

Rather than building out a full satellite stage, you can have your sponsors enter the stage in unexpected ways. We recently had someone get on board with entering from the back of the room, slowly walking to the mainstage with a spotlight following. Another was sitting in the house and popped up at the table, holding his entire presentation walking throughout the audience. Bringing a presenter down into the room itself is a fun way to liven up a session.

The Line-Up

Add your sponsors to the talent line up. Rather than treating their time onstage as something that has to be done, give them a role in the overall programming. A great way to incorporate a sponsor is to have them be part of a judges panel for “Shark Tank” style segments or serve as an emcee for onsite industry competition.

Flip the Programming

Sometimes it can be hard to place sponsors in the programming without causing conflict. Rather than adding time by spacing them out, try putting them onstage together. If your sessions have multiple sponsors within one industry (airlines, for example), create a panel designed just for them, with predetermined topics guiding the conversation. You’ll find each company has had a completely different journey to where they are today and having them pitch themselves while showing how much they differ is a great way to gain visibility with a captivated audience. 

Nobody should ever feel they need to take the  “good enough” mindset when it comes to fitting sponsors into sessions. It can certainly be a challenging experience, but there are many more ways to use those sponsorship opportunities to enhance your programming. They want your conference to be as successful and memorable as you do.


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