As I pull together the program for a client’s conference and connect with the speakers who will be providing the education and inspiration for our delegates, I started to think about how you find a speaker that is the perfect fit for your audience, whose style and perspective syncs with the organization’s and also provides inspiration in a unique way.

To help you determine and source that one speaker that delegates will be talking about on the show floor at your next conference here are some questions to ask and ideas for where to find them.

Questions to Ask in Your Search for the Perfect Speaker

  1. What do you need your speaker to provide to your delegates? Do you need them to be motivational, provide a broad perspective on a topic, industry or trends or explore specific issues affecting your delegates?
  2. What is the experience of other clients who have booked your speaker? Once you’ve decided on a speaker, check their references. You want to make sure the speaker can deliver what they promise. Previous clients should be able to provide you with honest feedback on the good and the bad.
  3. Have you prepared a profile of your group for the speaker so they know the audience and can customize their presentation for the group? Provide them with job descriptions, gender and age breakdown; topics or issues of interest to the industry.
  4. Can the speaker provide more that just a presentation? If a speaker’s message is not customizable ie. Celebrity speakers, who use their personal stories as a motivational message, negotiate for interactive time with the delegates. This could be staying in the room for photos, walking the show floor to maintain the buzz or doing a short interview video with them.
  5. If a speaker has a book or educational materials, would your delegates like to receive it as an attendee gift? A speaker might be more amenable to giving interactive time or a slightly lower fee if their materials are purchased.
  6. What if your speaker cancels or does not show? The most important place to address this is in the contract with the presenter. If dealing with a speaker bureau, they may be able to provide a substitute speaker. Make sure there is a contingency plan in the contract and that the group’s deposit for the speaker is returned to the group if there is a cancellation or no show.

Where You Might Find Your Perfect Speaker

  • Scour YouTube for presenters. TedTalks are a great place to start
  • Ask trusted sources for suggestions. Your Board members or committee members, other meeting planners will all have ideas and recommendations
  • Peruse the websites of speakers at other conferences and keep your eyes open when you attend conferences for potential presenters. Sometimes you might be able to “piggyback” on the availability of a speaker at an event in the same area and time frame as yours. This could save money in travel costs.
  • Develop a relationship with a speaker bureau or several bureaus to help you connect to the specific type of speaker you are seeking. They can also suggest speakers that are willing to negotiate on price and terms of performance