Choose the Right Keynote Speaker

Planner Tips

If you want to impress your guests, booking a keynote speaker to headline your event is a great way to encourage people to come. But how do you know which speaker to select? What exactly will he or she talk about? Will the people in attendance like the topic and the presentation?  Will the speaker repeat messages from previous speakers?  What are other ways to improve the event without an expensive speaker?

After you have asked these questions, it’s time to think about important ways to select your speaker.

Here are 3 tips to booking the right keynote speaker for your event.

1. Know what’s important

It’s easy to say you want someone to speak at your event, but the speaker needs a purpose. Create a list of priorities for your event and see which speaker’s topics and talents meet these priorities. Solicit feedback from team leadership about previous speakers and what did and did not satisfy the organization’s needs.  If he or she represents a certain industry or is known for a particular sales technique that fits with your event, then you have taken the first step to selecting your speaker.

2. Don’t be afraid to negotiate

There are two sides to every story, and there are two sides to every deal. You know your priorities and the speaker knows his or hers. This is the time for negotiation and compromise. Does he or she need special equipment, handouts, travel costs?  What is the anticipated fee?  Are fee discounts available during certain times of year?  Will that speaker already be in your area so you can avoid travel costs? Do you have any flexibility in the dates of your event, assuming the speaker is an integral part of the success of the program?  Talk with your speaker and learn what he or she needs to produce the quality experience you want.

3. Be fair in your negotiations

Reaching an agreement in which both parties are satisfied is not always easy. Be respectful of your speaker’s needs and keep your demands reasonable. Your goal is to reach a signed agreement and create a relationship with the speaker.  You want the speaker to make you, the meeting planner, look great and send the proper message to the audience.  Unfair negotiations or inadequate communication about expectations can taint the relationship and push the speaker off his or her game.  It is standard practice to pay a speaker for travel and accommodations if the speaker is coming to you.  Do not assume the speaker will pay his or her own way to come to speak.

Be prepared.  Do your research.  Know what you want before negotiating with a speaker.  Be clear in your understanding of the speaker’s talents and the audience composition.   A good keynote speaker can make a difference in your event’s success.

Guest blog by Veer Consulting, who has experience in addressing these issues and helping planner with successful events.  602-568-6277.