The selection of a speaker is one of the most important and challenging aspects of when it comes to creating a successful meeting or event. Selecting the right speaker for your meeting can be a daunting task because speakers are available in every fee range and topic specialty.
How do you make sure that you engage the best person for the job and get the highest value for the money you are investing?
1. Determine the needs of your audience. Thorough knowledge of the needs of your group is essential to selecting an appropriate speaker. Who are the members who will be attending? What are they interested in? What are some of the current goals and challenges they have on their minds? Does the meeting require that your audience leave with specific information? Do you need someone to motivate the group to sell? Are you looking for after-dinner entertainment with a message?
2. Establish your date, time, and budget.
a. Start looking for a speaker as soon as the date for your meeting is set. Many speakers book engagements up to a year in advance, so you will want to get on their calendar as soon as possible.
b. Consider how much time you have to fill and where that time falls in your overall program. If your time-slot is flexible, a professional speaker can often tell you the right amount of time for the job. A professional can also make recommendations about the order of topics to be addressed (i.e., it may not be wise to follow a humorist with an educational presentation).
c. Factor in the fee you are willing and able to pay for a speaker. Your search for a speaker can be very narrow or very broad depending on your budget. Fees for professional speakers vary greatly depending on experience, demand, and the particular niche in which they speak. The range for a professional speaker can go from $2,000 to $25,000 or more.
3. Identify the type of speaker who will best match the needs of your audience. A speaker’s expertise in a given field may be a big draw, but a well-known name does not guarantee a professional presentation. High profile does not always equal high quality. Will your audience and the overall program benefit most from a celebrity, and expert in the field, a popular sports personality, or a best selling author?
4. Locate your resources. Personal referrals are a great way to narrow your search. Ask colleagues and friends for their recommendations. Also, speakers bureaus can be a great way to find out those speakers who are available to speak on the topic you are contemplating.
5. Review your options and interview speaking candidates.
a. Expect a professional speaker to be a partner in your meeting process.
b. Make sure that a potential speaker has addressed groups similar to yours and talk to him about his experience.
c. As for a biography, testimonials, and recordings of presentations.
d. Find a speaker who will tailor his presentation for your group, not someone who gives canned speeches.
6. Select your speaker. Hire a professional and your hiring an ally, someone who will invest himself in the success of your meeting. Consider that you are not just paying for the time that the speaker in on the platform, but also for the hours spent researching, creating, and customizing his presentation. Also, be aware that some speakers may negotiate their fees when they are doing more than one program for you or when they are allowed to sell their products or get copies of your audio and video recordings of their presentations. Always ask about options.
7. Get it in writing. You should have a letter of agreement that clearly outlines the expectations of both you and your speaker. Consider:
a. Travel arrangements and transportation
b. Accommodations and meals
c. Fees, reimbursements, and payment terms
d. Whether you will want the speaker to attend social events
e. If the speaker may say product and, if so, how this will be handled
f. An agreement on any audio or videotaping of the presentation
g. Cancellation policies
h. Audio/visual requirements
i. Any legal implication
8. Work with your speaker. Share information about your group or company, such as:
a. Company newsletters, brochures, and annual reports
b. Key challenges your organization may be facing in the near future
c. Key people, buzzwords, and insider news and views
d. A clear outline of what you expect
e. The size and demographics of your audience
f. Other speakers on the program and the subject on which they will be speaking. (This avoids program overlap)
9. Set the stage.
a. Make sure the room is set up for optimum impact. Consider the number of chairs and how they are arranged. Also consider room temperature and lighting.
b. Stay on schedule. Keeping your program on schedule will allow your audience to get the full impact of the program you have created for them.
c. Make sure you get a good introduction bio from your speaker. The introduction should be short, energizing, and create positive expectations.
10. Evaluate the results. Have your audience complete evaluations on the speakers and his presentation. This will allow you to gauge your results and plan for future programs. Send copies of the evaluations to your speaker.