Whether your audience is full of tech aficionados or engaging community organizers, the right professional speaker will have a significant impact on them.
So, where do you start if you want to search for and hire the perfect speaker? Read on!
#1: Think Logistics
I know, this isn’t the fun part. But solidifying the logistics of your next event, from location to date, will narrow down the search parameters for your keynote speaker, corporate speaker, or public speaker.
In person or virtual?
Knowing whether your corporate events will be held in person or online impacts the pool of keynote speakers and other speakers to choose from.
If you go virtual…
If you host virtual events, you may consider booking a keynote speaker or another type of professional who resides virtually anywhere in the world.
If you keep things in person…
On the other hand, your choice of presenter for an in person event will be limited to those who can… well… be on location in person!
When will the speaker present?
Before approaching keynote speakers or any other type of speakers, know when in the program you would like them to talk.
We’ll talk more about this in the next step, but knowing the presenter’s slot in the program will help determine whether you choose a keynote speaker, motivational speaker, or another form of guest speaker.
What is your budget?
This is the (crucial) question no one likes to talk about!
Event planners are familiar with the process of creating a budget, but they may not be used to the process of budgeting for a keynote speaker, or other professionals’ fees, if that’s not typically part of their events.
Adding speakers impacts your budget process
Know well in advance if you would like to have a speaker (or two, or three) at your event. Not only do you need to book keynote speakers and corporate emcees early, you need to understand how investing in a speaker will impact your overall spending.
Once you have a clear understanding of your financial parameters, you can make informed choices about who to invite to talk, as well as how many speakers you can afford.
Remember – speakers’ fees vary.
#2: Know Your Goal
How do you want a presentation to benefit your event? Your answer will help identify the specific type of speaker you should invite.
Here is a basic overview of how different types of speakers can help you accomplish your mission:
Keynote speakers set the tone
Keynote speakers are typically leading authorities within their fields, and their talks tend to kick off an event by setting the tone all other speakers follow.
You may consider…
…hiring a keynote speaker (or multiple keynote speakers) if the goal is to have leading authorities educate the audience about new research in your field. Hire a keynote speaker to share industry-specific insight that will benefit the audience in their own work and have a solid master of ceremonies introduce them!
Hire a keynote speaker to heighten corporate event awareness – many are widely-recognizable industry names.
Guest speakers support the theme
You can hire a keynote speaker to set the overarching tone, or invite a guest speaker who zooms in on a particular issue.
Go for a deep dive
For example, if the event is a conference concerning elementary education, a guest speaker may discuss specific tools math teachers can use to communicate concepts in creative ways.
Or, if the event centers around sustainability, guest speakers (who can also be leading authorities) may deliver a presentation about small, eco-friendly changes you can make in your everyday life.
Motivational speakers inspire the audience
A motivational speaker is the perfect choice if your goal is to inspire the audience to take action once the event is over.
Who needs a boost?
Perhaps you want to give employees a pick-me-up after an especially difficult quarter, or empower and motivate volunteers by showing how deeply they impact your constituents.
The right speech can have a ripple effect, inspiring positive action among your group for years to come.
#3: Tap Into Your Resources
Booking a motivational speaker or the perfect keynote speaker can seem daunting, but you have resources at your disposal.
Here are a few ideas to ignite your brainstorming and set you on the path to finding the perfect speaker!
Check out a speakers bureau
Have you heard of a speakers bureau before? If you’re new to the concept, a speakers bureau is an organization that helps identify and hire out speakers for events.
A speakers bureau is great for those with limited connections
A speakers bureau is an excellent resource because they represent extensive rosters of guest speakers, keynote speakers, and public speakers, giving you hundreds of ideas. They can introduce you to speakers you never would have thought of before, but could be the right idea for your event.
No going over budget
Not only this, a speakers bureau will also work within your financial parameters. Consulting with them takes the guesswork out of hiring a keynote speaker or other wallet-friendly speaker.
Have you seen great speakers?
If you have ever attended a conference or corporate event, chances are you have listened to speakers yourself. If you want to hire a keynote speaker or other professional, start with your own experiences.
Which of these speakers do you remember?
The fact that you remember them means that their presentation impacted you. And that’s the ultimate goal.
Consider whether this person is a good fit, if that is the perfect keynote speaker for your audience, and if their rates fall within your budget.
Ask colleagues for recommendations
If you are looking for the perfect speaker, consider consulting with colleagues and friends and letting them know you’re on the search.
Expand your network
You’ve attended a few conferences; you’ve seen a handful of speakers. But your colleagues have, too – contact them!
Make some phone calls
Asking them for references deepens your candidate pool to include everyone your friends have seen present, and, if they are willing to ask around, everyone their friends have seen!
Expanding your knowledge of keynote speakers, motivational speakers, or other types of speakers can help down the line.
#4: Consider the Makeup of Your Audiences
Fantastic speakers are, well, fantastic, but if they don’t gel with your attendees, then the speech will not be successful.
Hire a keynote speaker or other professional who connects with your audience on a personal level.
Increase the likelihood that the speaker will build rapport with guests by booking a great keynote speaker or guest speaker who appeals to the audience’s demographics.
What are some examples of demographics?
Demographics are statistical data pertaining to particular groups within a population. Examples include age, gender, and ethnicity.
What is the context?
We’ve discussed the question of when in the program the speaker comes on stage, but please consider the audience’s perspective. What do I mean?
Ask yourself: have attendees been sitting for a long time? Is it the final day of a weeklong conference, or is it the very first morning, when everyone is raring to listen?
Use this information strategically
The answers to these questions will help inform the type of speaker you hire for a given slot.
Be strategic: save high-energy, interactive speakers for when audiences need a pick-me-up. Place information-dense lectures at a time when everyone’s minds are sharpest.
Consider everyone’s needs
Accessibility is absolutely vital when hiring a keynote speaker or other speaker. While making an event accessible is a joint effort between you, your speakers, and your venue, here are some factors to consider:
Sign language and/or interpreters
Volume, volume, volume!
As you search for a speaker, review their work samples (most have videos available on their websites or YouTube). Are you capturing every word they say?
While many venues provide microphones, don’t rely on that. Hire an audible speaker who is easy for the audience to understand. We want the folks in the back row to have just as great an experience as those in front.
If the speaker wants to bring visual support such as a PowerPoint presentation, even better!
Let’s Wrap Things Up!
By now, you should have a solid understanding of how to find the right speaker for your event. Let’s summarize the four insider tips that will set you on your way:
#1: Think logistics.
#2: Know your goal.
#3: Tap into your resources.
#4: Consider the makeup of your audience.
Keep Reading: A 3-Step Beginner’s Guide to Motivational Speakers
Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.