Screening the right keynote speaker is not an easy task. The market sometimes seems to be glutted with professional speakers, all of whom claim to be the perfect choice for your next event. If you are trying to find a business keynote speaker who can transform your next meeting or conference from ordinary to memorably extraordinary, you will want to start early to make sure you pick the perfect keynote speaker for your event. It is wise to review what worked well and what didn’t for past events, look at past feedback from attendees to see what they liked and didn’t like about other speakers who keynoted those events, and create a checklist for yourself of questions to ask, much as you would if you were hiring a new employee to work in your company. With careful preplanning and sufficient lead time, you will be able to locate just the right professional keynote speaker for your next business event.
There is No Substitute for Professionalism
Whether you are dealing directly with the speaker or with a speakers bureau, the first thing you will want to look for is professionalism. Especially if you are hiring a speaker for a business event, professionalism means courtesy, timely responses, providing what is necessary to keep the process moving forward, an attractive and representative portfolio, and more. If you find that you are waiting on responses, you don’t get answers to your questions, emails arrive full of spelling or grammar errors, or other red flags, it is time to look further afield for the right speaker for your business event.
Ask for a List of Ideas
If you have a specific topic you want the speaker to speak about, ask them to generate a list of ideas for the title to their keynote. See if their ideas show a firm grasp of your business and your industry, and enough attention to detail to show they are really thinking in depth about your audience and their needs. You can also ask for the speaker’s CV (curriculum vitae) or resume to review their experience and whether they have a strong background in your field.
Ask for a Speaker Video and Testimonials
You can also ask for a speaker video – most higher-profile speakers have one readily available to show to prospective clients. This is important because some speakers are experts who happen to speak, and other speakers are speakers who have become experts, you cannot count on getting a great speaker just because you are hiring an expert in your field. If the speaker you are considering is a professor, then see if you can attend one of their classes to experience them for yourself. If the speaker has spoken at a colleague’s conference, then call that colleague and ask for feedback. The more feedback you can gather from people who have seen the speaker in action, and especially if you can witness the speaker live in person, the more easily you will be able to decide if the speaker has the right style and energy level for your audience.
Joe Mackavie is an in-house event planner for a major corporation. He is tasked with finding a motivational speaker for his company’s annual conference each year, and enjoys the challenge of matching the speaker to the yearly theme.