Hiring The Perfect Keynote Speaker
Date: October 25, 2015
There are hundreds of keynote speakers looking for work and claiming to be the best person for your event. That’s a good and a bad thing. It’s good because you know you’ll be able to find someone, but it’s difficult having to sieve through many applicants to find the perfect speaker for you.
First of all you have to know what type of professional speaker you require to save confusion. This all boils down to the type of event that you’re holding. If it’s to motivate employees, you don’t need a comedian, but let’s say it’s a business event, a marketing speaker would be suitable.
Choosing the right speaker can make the difference between a successful night and one where people grab their coats early.
What Is The Theme Of Your Event?
Narrow down your choices by firstly understanding what you want from your speaker. Do you want them to make listeners cry? Feel inspired? Laugh? Start their own business? There’s no right or wrong answer, just have it clear in your head why you’re hiring someone in the first place.
Doing so will help to refine a few things such as gender, age, profession, background and more. You’ll have clarification on what they can bring to the event and it reinforces the whole purpose of everything.
You want everything to match together, which is why you should concentrate on getting the rest of the night in your head before reaching out to a speaker. For example, hiring a marketing speaker at an event where you’re talking about raising money for charity doesn’t speak the same voice.
This will highlight the importance of hiring someone. If you don’t have the experience, knowledge or confidence to talk about building a business from scratch, then choose someone who’s been there and knows what they’re talking about.
Choosing The Right Speaker For You
After you’ve established the ‘type’ of speaker you want, you’ve narrowed down your choices. Now it’s time to find someone. Obviously you want the best, so you should set a clear budget in your mind to guide you. Celebrity speakers and ones with more experience come at a higher price than ones starting out.
However, be aware that you get what you pay for. The higher charging speakers will be able to deliver a spectacular presentation, it’ll be thought-provoking and they’ll be more engaging to listen to. A lower-rate speaker won’t add as much value to the event and will expect to speak in front of a much smaller audience.
If you’re relying on their participation to wow the audience, then it’s worth spending more on a speaker. In which case, you should envisage why you are inviting them in the first place.
If it’s solely to add a little entertainment to the night, then it’s probably not worth breaking the bank, but if you really want to make a difference to people’s lives, then it is. You could also think about what point in the night you want to invite them on stage as to make the most of their appearance.
When looking for a speaker, don’t just choose one who’s local, because many are willing to travel a little further afield. Select them based on talent and not just demographics.
Consider ones who have done a similar thing to what you want, because if someone’s presented for either a similar company to yours, or on a similar topic, they’re knowledgeable in that area.
You want to make your life easy, and it’ll save you a while having to explain to them what you’re looking for. They’ll already have a clear picture in their head. It also shows that they have the same values and opinions as you. If you choose a general speaker, you’ll get a general result.
Look thoroughly at any past work they’ve done – especially videos – to give you a feel for what they’re like. Check references to see if they’re what you’re looking for. You can’t get a sense for them if you don’t see them in action.
Are you looking for someone who will interact with the audience? If you have a large crowd, then a speaker who’s keen to talk with people individually isn’t suitable. Though that’s impressive, it’d take hours to speak with everyone individually.
If you’re looking to really make a difference to the audience, or spread a message and change their lives, it’s best to choose a speaker they will recognise, or someone has been in a similar experience. Think about what you want your audience to feel. That’s the most important thing.
It doesn’t matter if the speaker has plenty to say that could be interesting to many; if it doesn’t resonate to the listeners, then it won’t have any significant effect on the night. Do you want your audience to feel inspired, happy or to take a new perspective on a subject? Do you want them to cry or laugh?
Most times a speaker isn’t the right fit because they don’t compliment the organisation’s culture, ethics and beliefs. They say things that people don’t understand or agree with. That’s why it’s a good idea to find someone who’s been in a similar situation before.
If it’s possible, meet with some of the speakers you’re interested in before you agree to hire them. This will give you the chance to talk about what you’re looking for and what content ideas you have. They can’t communicate your ideas clearly if they don’t know what’s expected of them.
A good speaker thinks of the audience and writes a speech that will benefit listeners, and it’s not just a way of talking about themselves. You’re hiring them for the sake of the audience, so they have to know what is expected of them.
People thoroughly enjoy talking with speakers after their performance, so ask potential ones if they could stick around for a short while to talk with the audience. Check that they’re happy to do so before the night.
Other than skills and experience, a good speaker adds to the flow of the event, which is why you constantly have to remind yourself why you want a speaker. If you hired a motivational speaker and a rock band, this would send mixed messages to listeners.
There’s a reason you wanted one in the first place, so keep reminding yourself of them and you’ll eventually find someone who fits the description. Be willing to venture into new areas, but keep your wits about you and don’t just hire anyone to do the job.
After you’ve searched high and low and finally hired someone who ticks all the right boxes, don’t forget to think about the timing they come on stage. If you’re spreading an important message, having them on last leaves their speech fresh in the audience’s mind so they think about it on the way home. This is definitely a good thing.
People generally won’t intently listen while they’re eating, nor when they’ve just arrived, so don’t invite them to come on first thing or at lunch if you want people to talk in what they’re speaking. A comedian, however, would be suitable during lunch.
Never rush in to hiring someone who has experience but you don’t think your audience will respect. After all, it’s the audience you’re doing this for. Remember that.