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Keynote speaker and audience

Tips on Hiring the Best Keynote Speaker for Your Next Event

Hiring the right keynote speaker for your corporate event or conference isn’t getting any easier. There seems to be more speakers than ever, on just about any topic. If you Google the term “keynote speaker,” there are almost one billion results! So, how can you ensure you find the best possible speakers for your events?

We spoke with President and Co-Founder Martin Perelmuter, as well as our team of client executives with decades of experience in the meetings industry, who shared their top ten tips to keep in mind when hiring your next keynote speaker.

1. Begin with the End in Mind.

Rather than focusing purely on the topic or theme of your event, ask yourself, “what behaviour change do you want to see in your audience?” Put another way, when the speaker is finished, what do you want your delegates or attendees to have heard, learned, and felt? And, most importantly, what do you want them to do differently?

2. Understand Your Audience.

We’ve yet to see a keynote speaker who is right for every audience. The only way to ensure a speaker is right for your event is to really know your audience. This includes demographics and psychographics. What’s the age range? What’s the gender balance? What are their roles or job functions? What level of education do they have? Are they culturally diverse? Questions like this will help identify the speakers who will best relate to and connect with your audience.

3. Plan as Early as Possible.

The best speakers get booked a year or more in advance, so the earlier you start planning, the greater likelihood that your first choice will be available.

4. Know Your Budget.

As with most things, fees vary quite widely with keynote speakers. Knowing your budget ahead of time will help you narrow down the list of potential candidates. Keep in mind that, in general, celebrities and high-profile speakers will be more expensive, but a higher price tag doesn’t necessarily mean they are better speakers or the right speakers for your event.

5. Look for Ways to Add Value.

Most speakers are willing to do more than just show up, speak, and leave. Whether it’s a meet and greet with VIPs or sponsors, a book signing, an extended Q&A, or a Twitter chat, there are many ways to add value to your speaker’s participation at your event. Be creative, and don’t be afraid to ask what’s possible.

6. Communicate Your Expectations in Advance.

Whether it’s pre-event preparation, onsite participation, or post-event follow up, some speakers are willing to do more than others. To avoid disappointment, communicate all your expectations in advance, and ensure that they are captured in your final agreement.

7. Understand Your Responsibilities.

Most speakers have fairly standard contractual obligations, however, it’s critical that you understand the full scope of your responsibilities. In particular, ensure that the travel and A/V requirements are clear, as well as the cancellation terms.

8. Do Your Homework.

It’s important to do your due diligence. This may include asking for references or testimonials from previous clients, reviewing video clips, or attending another event that your prospective speaker is participating in so you can preview their presentation in person.

9. But Don’t Overthink It!

While it’s important to consider various options and ensure you’re confident in your selection, don’t be struck by decision paralysis. Selecting a keynote speaker is both an art and a science, and there is almost always more than one speaker who will do a great job for you. This is where working with a speakers’ bureau can come in handy — an experienced team can provide advice and help ease the decision-making process.

10. Set Your Speaker Up for Success.

Finally, once you’ve made your selection, provide your speaker with the tools to help them succeed. This can include background information on your organization, event, and attendees, as well as a briefing call or meeting to assist in their preparation, and a personalized introduction at the event.

We hope these ten tips will make the speaker selection process a little less daunting for your next event, while also help you select a speaker that will best achieve your event objectives, and, more importantly, effect positive change in the personal and professional lives of your attendees.

Speakers’ Spotlight began with a strong belief that the needs of conference organizers, meeting planners, and speakers could be served in new and better ways, and that a speech can be the catalyst for positive change. Twenty-four years later, we’ve arranged more than 28,000 speaking engagements in over 35 countries worldwide, and have been fortunate to receive many awards and accolades along the way.

Email us at info@speakers.ca to learn more about how Speakers’ Spotlight can help you with your next event.