Speeches can be powerful things and great speeches can stay with us forever. Think about all the speeches over time that have shaped history, those so memorable that everyone knows what you’re talking about just by reciting one line, and those that have personally meant so much, from special occasions to important announcements.
In short, they’re a big deal, which is why choosing a speaker for your event should involve time and thought. We spoke in a previous blog about how presentations can make or break an event, and the same is true for the speakers you employ. You want your delegates to look forward to hearing from your speaker, as they would a much-anticipated Ted talk – inspiring, motivational and current.
Why have a speaker at your event?
A good speaker is going to need budgeting for, so let’s look first at why your event could benefit from such investment. Speakers can:
● Attract attendees to your event. This might be because they are a well-known name that people want to see, or because of the topic they will be discussing.
● Bring in an outside perspective. It’s important to have different viewpoints or backgrounds represented at an event in order to strike a balanced discussion. It’s easy to fall into the trap of scheduling a whole day of in house discussions and presentations, but having an external speaker will certainly bring a fresh view of events.
● Provide entertainment. Just a fresh face or different tone of voice can really shake things up, especially if you timetable your guest speaker strategically, such as just after lunch!
● Reinforce key event points or themes. No matter how much is said on your branding or how many times your key messages are drummed into your delegates, you can’t beat having someone new complement what you’re saying through their own experiences or knowledge.
Deciding on the right type of speaker
So we’re in agreement booking a speaker is a good idea, but how do you go about choosing the best one for your event? Start by thinking about the following questions…
1. What is the purpose of the speaker? Think about what you want to get across to your audience. Are they there to share their knowledge, or to motivate? This will determine whether you hire an industry expert or a motivational speaker.
2. How long will you want them to speak for?
3. What is your budget? Work this out before you go looking for speakers. While you may be tempted to book a stand-out industry name, it may be worth thinking outside the box. What would be more important to you; the content of the speech or how it is delivered?
4. What about ROI? You’ll get a good idea of what your delegates thought of the speaker from your post-event surveys. Feedback like this can help you decide how far your aims were met.
5. Do you know anyone who could recommend a speaker? Recommendations are always best, but you can also try and see them in action before your event or ask for a video. You want to be sure they will fit with your event.
What to ask potential event speakers
By now you’ll be ready to start pinpointing a few speakers you think might fit the bill. Here’s a checklist of
things to help you in the decision process…
Check the relevance of their expertise for your event and see whether they will be able to give your delegates an insight they can’t get elsewhere.
Obviously their level of knowledge is important, but it also needs to be up to date and topical.
Your audience needs to be engaged by the speaker, so make sure they are entertaining and passionate about their subject.
➔ Added value
Will they provide your delegates with actions to take away and think on, or tasks for them to complete? Anything that will keep the speaker – and your event – in their minds for longer is worthwhile.
We’re very techy here at FoxWylie and love making stages and screens as beautiful as possible [link to equipment blog]. Does your speaker embrace technology, or will they at least be happy to on the day?
Will the speaker be flexible to your other needs at the event or do they just want to speak and go? Whether it’s meeting delegates over lunch or joining a panel Q&A, it’s good to know how much they would be willing to get involved.
Live events are just that, live. A speaker who is willing to work with you to adapt their content if required, or reflect on what was discussed before their turn to speak, is always useful.
Above all, your speaker needs to delight your audience. You know your event and your delegates, so have confidence in your decision and don’t be scared to go with your own instinct. (As long as they meet most of the points on the checklist above!)