How to Choose a Conference Speaker
Five Ways to Choose the Right Speaker
Ask for video footage. Always ask to see some clips of your speaker in action, before you sign on a dotted line. Don’t worry—any reputable and experienced speaker will have some footage they can pass along. If your speaker seems hesitant to share video clips—well, that tells you everything you need to know right there.
Ask about credentials. There is such a thing as a certified public speaker, and inquiring about different accreditations and professional affiliations can give you some sense of the speaker’s bona fides.
Ask for referrals. You might also inquire as to where the speaker has worked before, and call some past clients to see if they are willing to leave a positive review. Again, a speaker who is hesitant to list past clients is likely not someone you want to do business with.
Ask for thought leadership. Most speakers are also publishers, and checking out your speaker’s blog posts and e-books is a good way to feel out how well he or she knows the industry.
Ask your gut. Your intuition is not something you want to ignore. You need a speaker you’ll feel good about working with—and if your gut tells you that a particular speaker just isn’t the one, that’s reason enough to continue the search.
What’s the most crucial factor in determining the ultimate failure or success of your next conference or seminar? It’s not the venue and it’s not even the food, though both of those things certainly matter. No, what really makes or breaks it, is the choice you make for the conference speaker.
Criteria for Choosing the Best Conference Speaker
What’s the most important criteria you want for your annual conference ? It’s not a trick question. Though the venue and the food are both critically important considerations, it’s the actual content that people are going to come for, and it’s the content that people will remember. And the key to delivering strong content, of course, is enlisting the best possible conference speaker.
If you’re an event planner, that means really doing your homework, and choosing a conference speaker wisely. As you evaluate potential speakers, consider some of the following criteria, strategies, secrets, and tips—all of which will guide you to make the best decision possible, and to end up with a conference that participants will speak highly of.
- Watch Your Speaker perform. You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive. Neither should you engage a speaker without actually watching that speaker perform. Any reputable speaker will be willing to send you a YouTube clip or some other video sample.
- Ask About Past Experience. If you’re looking for a speaker to present at a marketing convention, you want to ensure that it’s someone who’s presented to marketers before. Don’t hesitate to ask about past experience with your industry or niche.
- Look for speakers who want to include you in their preparation.
- You don’t want someone who’s just going to rehash tired old talking points. You want a presentation that’s tailored to your group. Try to find a speaker who will ask you questions and seek your feedback in planning his or her remarks.
Seek a Conference Speaker Who Will Stick Around.
Make sure your speaker is willing to stay after the presentation and talk with people one-on-one, take questions, or just be present. You don’t want someone who’s just going to speak, then make a mad dash for the door. Be cautious about speakers who want to sell stuff.
It’s fine for a speaker to want a table to sell his or her book, but be careful in hiring anyone who seems like they only care about promoting their wares. That’s usually a bad sign.
Go with a speaker who seems interested in your organization, your mission, and your goals. As you interview potential speakers, listen for those who also seem like they’re interviewing you—because those are the ones who are really going to be invested in your event.
Be strategic in picking your conference speaker—and land on someone who will really provide optimal value to your group!
Looking for a Speaker?
As a footnote, let me affirm that I’m more than willing to chat with you about my own experience and credentials; get in touch with me about your next conference or event!