The person in charge of choosing the keynote speaker for your event has a large responsibility on his or her shoulders. If he or she chooses the wrong speaker, the entire event could be a flop. In general, the keynote speaker holds the fate of your event in his or her hands. This incredible responsibility makes it very important to perform the proper research before hiring a keynote speaker. Whether you are selecting keynote speakers and entertainers from the speaker's bureau or finding one on your own, it is important to choose carefully and to know what to look for to ensure that your event is a success.
Know their Expertise
Whether you meet a speaker in person, talk to him or her on the phone or use the speaker's bureau's expertise, you need to know what your speaker generally talks about. Not only do you want to know what categories he or she specializes in, but also what his or her experience is like. If it is possible, attend one of his or her events prior to hiring to see not only what they talk about but also how they deliver their speech. Each speaker will have his or her own tone and presence that might or might not fit into the theme of your event. Sometimes their experience in the industry is not enough, so you need to have the ability to gauge their speaking abilities and how their personality would fit into your target audience on your own. Their expertise will play a large role in the decision that you make.
Discuss your Goals
Before you hire a speaker for your event, you should take the time to explore your goals. What is the purpose of hiring a speaker? What are you trying to achieve? These goals, when written down, will help you stick to your own guidelines when you start to look for the right speaker. When you have your goals written down, it will also give you a basis to start your conversations with the intended speaker. While he or she may have a speech in mind, this person needs to know the premise of your event and what you are trying to achieve by having him or her speak at your event.
Ask for Samples
It is okay to ask potential speakers for examples of their work, especially if you are unable to visit one of their events in person. This gives you information about what to expect about their work. You might find that you fall in love with one speaker while watching their samples, while others simply turn you off. Having this knowledge ahead of time could save you from disaster should you hire the wrong speaker without seeing their work ahead of time.
Ask about their Credentials
Aside from your speaker's expertise is the need for his or her credentials. Did they attend an illustrious school? Did they earn any specific awards or certificates? What sets them apart from everyone else? Typically a speaker with better credentials will draw a larger audience for you. You are looking for an overall positive image for your speaker, one that has extensive experience in the industry that you are speaking to as well as exceptional credentials that makes them an expert without anyone ever hearing them utter a word.
Discuss the Overall Tone of the Event
Before you settle on a speaker, you need to discuss the overall tone of the event that you are planning. It wouldn't do you any good to hire a speaker that uses plenty of humor in their speech if you are speaking to a room full of executives that expect to gain technical knowledge or other important information from the meeting. On the other hand, if your room will be filled with young college students, parents or any other audience that is a bit more laid back and ready to hear the witty banter as well as helpful information, someone that uses humor in their speech might be well received.
Selecting keynote speakers and entertainers from the speakers bureau can be an arduous process, but it is one well worth undertaking. Before you let anyone be the highlight of your evening, you need to have plenty of information about them. In the ideal world, you would be able to see the speaker in action in order to have a firsthand idea about how he or she operates. If this is not possible, as much interaction as you can get is necessary. Asking for samples, talking to him or her on the phone or in person and being open and honest about your goals will yield you the greatest result from your keynote speaker.