Hey Ric. Since my 7D does NOT have manual gain (yet, if ever), I always capture double-sound with a Tascam DR-100 unit (the Zoom H4n is similar). The recorder has two channels of XLR inputs, and well as two on-board stereo pair of mics (seldom used by me). The Tascam also does 48kHz, 24-bit WAV files, and a limiter, which provides plenty of "headroom" for a signal w/o having to ride gain much.
Double-sound provides flexibility that on-board audio cannot. For instance, in your situation, you could wire (or wireless) your talent and a podium mic to a recorder under the podium and free yourself from the hassles of getting audio back to your cam. With a 4GB card on-board, you could capture hours of unbroken audio.
Naturally, syncing audio to video becomes a problem, since neither unit provides timecode. I always slate my takes with a marker board (writing down the audio file name on the slate), but events typically require more discretion. Sometimes, the talent could snap or tap the podium as part of the "performance" that gives the editor something to sync to in post. Likewise, an DSLR might not be the best choice for long-form events, due to its ~12 minute "reel" length, and requiring potentially multiple sync events.
FWIW, I HATE capturing events w/ speaker(s). The rooms are often poorly-lit, it's difficult to get good audio, and the speakers are often very boring on video. Talking to a room and talking to the camera are very rarely good performances on both levels. Sometimes I've faked these situations... captured a performance where the speaker appears to talk to the crowd (before or after the event), where I can light it up and get good sound bites... then captured b-roll of the crowd at the actual event.
Hope this helps, and good luck,
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