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11 Tips for Choosing a Keynote Speaker for Your Event

There are over 40,000 professional speakers in the United States today, covering a diverse range of niches. How do you choose the right one?

Organizing events is a huge undertaking; you have to think about the venue, any sound, and visuals needed, and then market the event. One of the most challenging tasks can be arranging the important role of the keynote speaker.

It can be daunting considering who to use. They need to resound with your event objectives, be admired in the industry, and also deliver an engaging talk.

If you’re left with the task of organizing the best speaker for this important role, you’re probably asking lots of questions. You need to get it right.

In this article, we put together eleven useful tips to help you choose the best speaker for your next event.

The Purpose of a Key Note Speaker

The responsibility of keynote speakers is to set the tone for the conference or event. Their job is to speak about a topic that will resonate with the overall theme of the gathering. They should be able to resonate with the guests and provide inspirational and insightful opinions.

Therefore it’s important to choose the right speaker for your event. They should have a rapport with industry professionals and their peers or a track record of deliverability within their chosen topic.

Typically a keynote speaker should open an event as it sets the theme. Their involvement should last for anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour. They should provide value and enthusiasm for the event. Depending on the speaker, they may also be invited to close the event or be involved in a Q&A panel.

11 Tips to Consider With Your Keynote Speaker

It can be a bit of a daunting task when it comes to hiring a speaker for your event. Their role is important and can be the difference between a successful or a non-successful event. Follow these 11 useful tips, which cover all the things you should consider when you’re researching who you should hire.

1. The Goal for the Event

One of the first things you should consider with your event speaker is the goal and purpose of your event. What are the main things you want your attendees to leave with, and what type of experience are they hoping to gain?

By thoroughly understanding the goals and outcomes of the event will help you narrow down the choice for a potential speaker and help you to find someone who is aligned with your ideals and objectives.

2. Relevance of the Speaker

After clarifying the goals for the event, you can narrow down your speaker options much easier. You may already have some idea of a great motivational speaker you would want at your event; however, ask yourself, do they wholly align with your objectives?

When you start to delve into and aims and outcomes of your event, you might learn that the speaker you originally had in mind might not be the best person to help achieve this. It’s imperative that your speaker will deliver the goals of your event.

Although you might be drawn in by a glossy name of a renowned speaker, it’s easy to let this overshadow the relevance. You should be basing your keynote speaker on how well they will reflect your objectives rather than just the best name.

3. Read Their Published Work

Just because a speaker is less experienced in delivering keynote speeches doesn’t mean they don’t do it. Think about all the publications you read; who are your favorite writers on this topic, and why? What do you like or dislike about their style? Do they convey complex ideas in an easy-to-follow way, or is their writing entertaining.

Before committing to a keynote speaker, read any publications they may have. This gives a clear indication of their experience and knowledge of a subject, and it also allows you to gauge their communication style. Do they write academically and formally, or do they write in a casual and more familiar style? The way they write will be a good indication of how they present their ideas.

4. Speaker Experience

You might be using a seasoned professional public speaker or someone who is just stepping into this role for the first time. If they have an arsenal of experience under their belt, then they should be familiar with how to deliver a keynote speech to a range of audiences.

For a less experienced speaker, you may need to provide a bit more structure and some insight into who they will be presenting to. No doubt, they will know their topic inside out, but they may have little experience in how to deliver to an audience.

If you’re looking for a motivational Keynote Speaker, then take a look at more useful resources at

Steve Farber delivers powerful messages on leadership. He is one of the world’s most sought-after leadership speakers in his field and is also the author of 3 ground-breaking books.

5. Watch Them in Action

Before you choose your keynote speaker, you might want to see them in action. If you can do this at a live event, you’ll get a better gist of how well they deliver content and how well they hold the attention of the audience. They should be able to provide entertainment and engagement value to your audience.

If you can’t get to a live event, see if there is any footage of them online such as TED talks or YouTube clips. Depending on who they are, they may even have Facebook Live videos or Instagram Stories, which will give you some indication of their presenting style.

6. Build Pre-Event Buzz

In the lead-up to the event, you will want to create a buzz to get people excited and talking about it. As an event organizer, you will need to know who the target market is and where they hang out. Where are your marketing efforts going to have the most impact?

If your forte isn’t in marketing, then you may want to outsource this task to a PR or designated marketing team, especially if you’re hosting a large-scale event.

Before you assign a keynote speaker, you may want to ask them what promotion they are willing to do. Some will just turn up and speak, whilst others will leverage their own followers and clients and help to promote your event. If they are hired through an agency, are they willing to promote the event on the speaker’s behalf?

Great ways of creating a buzz and momentum are to do pre-event interviews, tweets, blogs or articles, and video teasers. Depending on the type of event, you may want to use a local publication or newspaper to advertise the event. Another way to build excitement is by running a competition that could build engagement with your potential attendees.

7. Speaker Requirements

Before the event, check with your speaker for any items they will need for their presentation. You want your speaker to do the best job possible, so make sure everything is in place to enable them to do this.

In the weeks leading up to the event, arrange a briefing call to discuss their needs and your objectives, and what you want them to deliver.

This is also when you will want to talk about presentation delivery. Do they prefer to sit or stand? Will they need some sort of projector or any other sound and visual equipment? They may have a presentation to show, so be clear in what format this needs to be in. If you have a speaker with a disability, you will also need to consider what things need to be in place for them on the day.

By covering the pre-event logistics, you will help the event go smoothly, which is a good indicator of professionalism. It’s frustrating for both the speaker and audience if things like visuals or microphones don’t work on the day.

8. How Much Is Your Budget

Putting on an event cant be a costly experience. An event budget should have been drawn up, which will cover things like venue hire, materials, sound and visual equipment, and marketing. A large portion of the budget will go towards staffing the event, especially if there are multiple speakers over a multi-day event.

You should have allocated a set budget for your keynote speaker. A well-known speaker will often cost substantially more than a lesser known speaker, but the advantage of using someone with a bigger reputation is that it has the potential to bring in a larger audience.

It’s important to work out what value a premium keynote speaker will bring and what they are willing to do for the price. Have a budget and stick to it as much as you can unless an extortionate price can be fully justified.

If your speaker has an agent, there will also be agency fees to take into consideration with the final fee. A smaller and lesser-known speaker may not have an agent. On top of the speaker fee and potential agency fee, you may also have to provide transportation and hotel costs plus any other away-from-home expenses if they are traveling to your event.

9. Your Target Audience

You should have a clear idea of who your target audience is, who they aspire to, and the type of presenter they would relate to.

For example, if you were hosting an event for entrepreneurial women, it probably wouldn’t go down too well with a male presenter. Likewise, if you were delivering an event for ambitious 20something-year-old college graduates, they may not relate to a presenter that resembles their mother.

It’s important to align your choice of presenter with the intended target audience. This will require research. Find out the type of role model, industry professional, or persona your audience resound with to make an informed choice.

10. Reliability of the Speaker

If you’ve spent the time organizing an event and promoting it, you want to be sure that your speaker is reliable. Not everyone has the same work ethic, and if a better offer came along, you wouldn’t want your speaker canceling last minute.

Check if your speaker has a track record of delivering what they have promised and that they are punctual and professional.

You might want to choose a speaker based on a recommendation from a trusted source. It’s also worth checking for reviews from previous events or asking for feedback from other event organizers on how they were to work.

11. What They Do After the Event

Does your keynote speaker have a genuine interest in your event and your attendees, or are they just attending for their own ego? This is worth asking, especially if the keynote speaker you have planned is a big name with a premium fee.

Have a look at how your chosen speaker behaves after previous events, do they talk about it on social media, do they interact by speaking or taking pictures with fans or followers, and do they stick about after their presentation is done?

The way they behave after their time on stage will have a good indication of how invested they are in your event. If a keynote speaker has a reputation for leaving as soon as they have finished their keynote session, then you may want to choose someone who has an invested interest in the attendees and the event.

Have Planned Your Next Event?

What stage of your event planning are you at? Whether you’re just getting started or you’re further into the process, these eleven great tips are worth following to get the correct keynote speaker for the event.

If you’re looking for more great business advice, tips on business management, or content marketing tactics, we have a variety of articles available.

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