Event speakers are the stars of the show. The event might have the latest tech and a great venue. But without an engaging speaker, the purpose of the event will miss its mark. A good presenter can make a world of difference in keeping your audience hooked on every word. They set the tone of the event and drive ticket sales.
There is a list of things you need to consider while selecting the right speaker. You have to weigh in factors like the presenter’s ability to inform, entertain, inspire and have chemistry with the audience. You also need to diversify your speaker line-up so everyone in your audience can relate and feel included.
So how do you find a quality speaker for your next event? Let’s start by laying the foundation.
Questions you need to ask before looking for a speaker
A good speaker who is the perfect fit for your event format is a match made in heaven. And before picking a presenter, you need to lay the groundwork and do your research. It is recommended that you start preparing for your event about 6 to 12 months beforehand. This would involve getting to know your audience better, picking the venue, finalising the theme, setting a budget, outlining your event and choosing your speakers.
When you reach out to speakers, it might be tempting to go for experts in your industry. But this might not always work. For example, Dave Ramsey is a popular financial expert. But if your target audience is more inclined towards technology experts, would he be the right fit?
Taking note of this, here are a few questions to consider before kicking off your speaker search:
- What is the core objective of your event? Outline your goals and intentions for the conference. This will help you narrow down guest speakers who will be a good match for the event. Do you need a keynote speaker at the beginning and for later, presenters for break-out sessions? With your event needs mapped out, you can go for speakers who’d get the job done.
- Who is your audience? If your audience is primarily younger entrepreneurs, an energetic speaker with fresh ideas is a good fit. Someone who pushes boundaries would resonate better with the crowd. If your attendees are more established, then a well-known industry leader would do the trick.
- What is your budget? Speakers in the US charge anywhere between 2,000$ to 30,000$ and sometimes more. Celebrities can command over 50,000$. If you’re on a tight budget, getting a celebrity may not be a good idea. However, it would make sense to focus on quality rather than cost as long as you’re able to fit your speaker within the budget. There are a lot of upcoming speakers who charge way less and can have an equally good impact without burning holes in your budget.
- What is the purpose of the guest speaker? Do you want someone to get the attendees hyped up for the event? Or are you looking for a speaker who will sit down and do an interview? When you have a specific goal and audience in your mind, picking your guest speaker can be a cakewalk. Your attendees will come in with certain expectations. And you’ll want to match this with your speakers’ abilities. During break-out sessions, it’s recommended to have a variety of speakers so there’s something for everyone.
- What are the logistics? What if your event is in London, but the perfect speaker lives in New York? Asking them to make them fly out is not feasible and it comes with a huge price. To make matters worse, last-minute problems can crop up from long-distance flights. There could be great speakers in your country. Ask your business friends or a speakers’ bureau for recommendations. The general rule of thumb is that the speaker should be able to reach the venue within a 3-hour flight.
- What type of personality will click with your event? There are a variety of guest speakers with different communication styles. Some are good at storytelling while others are good at making technical content sound interesting. And then some are edgier and can provoke your audience in the right way. Find one that aligns with your crowd.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you should have a clearer picture of which speaker you’d want for the event. The next part is finding them.
Where to find guest speakers
Now we are onto the next step of putting yourself out there and looking for them. Here are 8 tips to snag a stellar event speaker:
- Your audience knows best. Ask your guests whose talk they’d love to attend. They may have people in mind you may not have thought of. You can conduct a survey by sending out a form to your attendees or just by asking around.
- Go back to the events you attended. Think of an event you enjoyed attending. Chances are there was a speaker who made a pretty strong impression on you. They could be relevant and knowledgeable about the subject of your conference. Reach out to them as they could be a perfect fit.
- Networking and referrals are a gold mine. Reach out to your circle and ask them for recommendations. Being specific about what you are looking for would help narrow the search. The best-case scenario would be that your contact had booked the speaker in the past. Or attended an event where they enjoyed the talk. They can let you know how they were to work with and how much they charged.
- Look up similar events and conferences. Checking out conferences similar to your event might give you some exciting leads to find your speaker. Get online and take a look at their past or upcoming events. You might even get to see the speaker in action online.
- Social media is your search tool. Speakers usually post about the events they attend on their social media profiles. It’s easy to find their profiles and also watch them perform. You can get their contact details, where they live and the types of business events they attend all in one place. On sites like LinkedIn, you get a peek at their work history and the things you have in common.
- Agencies and databases are your friends. Organisations that train speakers are often untapped sources with a lot of potential. Get in touch with companies and tell them your requirements. You can request their previous work and see if it matches your events’ needs. The benefit of taking this route is that these companies work with you to find what you’re looking for.
- Check out Ted Talks. Ted talks are widely known for their quality speakers. It is a great source to find engaging speakers in almost any area. You can easily find them on YouTube and gauge their performance. Getting to see how the audience reacts to them is a cherry on the cake.
- Keep an eye on content creators. Hosts of popular podcasts and authors of well-known blogs are untapped territory. They are often highly knowledgeable in their field and are pretty good entertainers too. Authors and podcasters often double up as speakers. And as their work is easily available online, you can get a glimpse of their presentation style.
A check-list to pick the right guest speaker
After the previous step, you probably have a list of potential speakers. The final step would be narrowing down your speakers and seeing who fits the bill. Here’s what can help you can finalize your speakers:
- Watch them in action. Try to attend an event where you can check out the speaker live. You can experience their effect on the crowd first-hand and see if your audience would actually enjoy listening to them. If you can’t catch them live, you can always find their work online.
- Go through their online content. Visiting their website and social media content can give you a good insight into the speaker’s expertise and personality. Usually, presenters list the events they’ve performed at. Use this to your advantage. This information could also help you market your event.
- Get to know them one-on-one. If possible, meet them in person. If not, the next best thing would be to get on a video call. Apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts and Skype have made online meetings super easy. Speaking with them directly would give you a chance to ask all the big questions. It’ll also make you feel more confident about your decision.
- Ask for references. Speakers typically give out references. Prepare a list of what you’d like to know and follow up with them. Also, reach out to event organizers who have worked with the speaker so you know what to expect.
Now over to you
When picking a speaker, it’s not necessary to go with the biggest names in the industry. Upcoming speakers, influencers, and thought leaders are great choices. They can be a breath of fresh air to your audience and at the same time nail your event goals.The important part is that you feel confident that they will deliver results. What you need to keep an eye out for is that your speaker can connect with your audience, engage with them and add value by sharing their knowledge. With this recipe for success, you can be sure your attendees will have a memorable experience. Last but not the least, don’t forget to thank your speaker for doing an amazing job. Being a good speaker is no easy task and your appreciation can go a long way.