How to Choose a Keynote Speaker

Choosing the right keynote speaker

How to Choose a Keynote Speaker

This guest post is from Anna Mendez. Anna began her career working for an event planning company. Today, she is one of the company’s top event planners and has booked several keynote speakers.

Almost every event requires a keynote speaker. A keynote speaker’s role is to deliver a speech crafted to pull the event together around a uniting message, concept or theme. Choosing the right keynote speaker for your event can be a nerve-wracking process, especially if it is the first time you have done so. But, it doesn’t have to be stressful if you follow these simple steps.

First, you have to determine a few factors about the keynote speakers you are interested in. Are they relatable? Do they make you laugh (or cry, or whatever emotional response you are hoping for)? Is their fee within your budget; if not, are they willing to work with you? These and other considerations can take the guesswork out of choosing the right keynote speaker for your next event.

Agency Versus Solo Search

One of the first things you’ll want to decide is whether you plan to use a speakers bureau to help you find your speaker or whether you are going to do the work yourself. Perhaps you have a team of people who are in charge of planning the event and one of them has some experience with hiring a speaker. Maybe you have a few speakers in mind and you’d like to contact them before you reach out to a bureau. On the other hand, maybe you are new to hiring speakers and you want an expert to handle the process for you. These considerations can help you decide whether to hire a professional agency to find your speaker. Keep in mind that while the agency will likely offer a higher price for the speaker than you would get if you contacted them directly, it is also not always possible to contact certain speakers directly if they have an agency contract. Also, with an agency, you have a guarantee that contracts will be honored and the money will be handled professionally.

In Person Versus Sight Unseen

The best way to screen motivational keynote speakers is to see them speak before you actually hire them. Sometimes this is possible if the speaker is speaking at an event near you. If you are able to do this, you will want to look for eye contact, clarity, how the speaker handles props and/or notes, audience engagement, sincerity and the overall content of the speech. You may have very specific needs — a speaker who can share serious topics in a humorous way, for example. If you are not able to see your selected speaker live, see if there is a video you can watch. You can ask for referrals from past clients and question how satisfied they were with the speaker. However, if you work with a speaker bureau, they often are able to provide these things.

Contract, Rider and Price

Before you seal the deal, you will want to thoroughly review your speaker’s contract, rider and price. The contract tells you who handles payment, when and how payment will be made, what happens if the unexpected occurs (the speaker gets sick, there is poor weather, etc.) as well as other aspects. Because agencies tend to use a standard contract, while speakers who book themselves may have a totally different contract, there is a great deal of variance within the industry. In the same way, the bigger “name” your chosen speaker has, the more detailed their technical rider is likely to be. There are certain stars rumored to ask for only certain brands of bottled water in their dressing room, for instance. Carefully review every detail, and if you also have a contract that the speaker needs to sign, be sure they are willing to sign yours before you commit to signing theirs.

About the Author:  Anna Mendez began her career working for an event planning company. Today, she is one of the company’s top event planners and has booked several keynote speakers.

2 Replies to “How to Choose a Keynote Speaker”

  1. Thanks for letting me know how to go about doing this. My boss told me it’s my job to find our keynote speaker for our February conference…how am I supposed to do that? I’m clueless! Soooooo, thanks for the tips.

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