Event professionals also have the responsibility to chose the best and most engaging speakers for their events, and most events should include at least one keynote speaker. The speaker doesn’t have to be someone super famous, though kudos to you if you can find someone of a celebrity status to speak at your event.
In any case, you should at least try to get a speaker that has charisma and can entertain an audience while informing them. Here’s a few event planning tips for acquiring the right speakers for an upcoming event.
1. Look Up Ted Talks Speakers
Most event planners are familiar with the Ted Talks conferences. This is an annual speaking engagement featuring the top speakers from all over the world in a variety of niches. Look up past speakers who presented at this event. You just might find someone who is just right for your industry.
Ted Talks is such a high-profile conference that anyone who gets a spot on the stage is highly qualified. Just go to YouTube and look up any Ted Talks speaker. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone that lacks charisma or speaks with a nervous stutter. Ted Talks is simply the best place to start scouting for potential speakers. If you can find one that spoke in your niche area, then that’s even better.
2. Study Potential Speakers
Whether looking up a Ted Talks conference or some other video, always carefully examine the speaker’s mannerisms. How does the person engage with the audience? Does he or she speak nonstop, or stop at intermittent intervals to accept audience questions? Also examine the speaker’s body language? Does he or she move about and use facial and body gestures, or spend the entire time behind a podium? Does the speaker elicit laughter from the audience? Does the speaker foster attendee networking? If the speaker is able to do this even when speaking on a dry subject, then you just might have a strong candidate.
Another thing to look for is the speaker’s use of slides. Does he or she over rely on them or not use them at all? How about a teleprompter? Using a teleprompter is fine, but if a speaker can go on an extended and meaningful dialogue while looking at the audience and not at a screen feeding words, then that is a sign of a natural orator.
3. Offer Payment
Yes, most speakers expect to be compensated for their time. Some event planners, in lieu of paying the speaker, offer “exposure.” If you go this route, you’re basically offering an intern opportunity. Sure, there will be a few speakers who will express interest, but those will be low-level, getting-a-foot-out-the-door type of speakers. Sure, they still have the potential to impress, but do you really want to take the chance?
The experienced speakers that’s going to sweep an audience off the floor all require a speaking fee for their services. With that in mind, do be willing to negotiate a payment rather than promise mere exposure.
On the subject of payment, keep in mind that you may also have to foot the speaker’s travel and lodging bills. If this is out of your budget, then consider a speaker within the local or greater local area.
4. Study the Speaker’s Profile
Does the speaker have an extensive online presence? As stated, having spoken on a Ted Talks conference is a good indicator, but you should investigate potential speakers further. Does the speaker have his/her own website? What’s the LinkedIn profile like? How many followers does he/she have on Facebook and Twitter? Do their social media posts generally get a lot of likes and comments? Does the speaker have their own YouTube channel with a collection of past speaking engagements? If so, how many views do those videos have?
If you can’t easily find information on a particular speaker, then that person is likely still green and fairly unknown. In this case, you may want to move onto the next candidate.
5. Be Flexible
A well-established speaker will likely already have a near-full schedule. If he’s a highly sought after individual, then you need to work your schedule around that speaker and not the other way around. If this is not feasible, then you need to find someone else.
If there is a particular speaker you’re really after, then are you willing to shift the event date from, say, a weekend to a week? If it has to be on a weekend, are you willing to push the event date to next month when the speaker will be available on a Saturday or Sunday?
6. Get Referrals from Sponsors
Ask your sponsors for recommendations on speakers. Your sponsor has been around the block longer than you have and have likely held their own events in the past. They may also have sponsored other companies like yours that have hosted their own conferences and hired a speaker. As such, your sponsors may know a few good speakers they have seen firsthand presenting on stage.
Furthermore, if the sponsor has worked directly with a particular speaker, then it may be able to act as the intermediary. This is important because speakers may be more likely to respond to clients they have worked with before.
There are a lot of experienced and high-energy speakers out there. Booking one for your event isn’t that hard. You just have to know what you want in a presenter and act early to secure that person for your conference.