Choosing a speaker can be easy and fun if you build a framework to guide you. This includes setting a budget and finding out what attendees want. You can assess the speaker’s performance, review testimonies and then determine their value to your attendees.

#1 Budget

You need to set a budget for the cost of a guest speaker. Put this in place before you begin researching speakers. This will provide the necessary guidelines to narrow your list of possible speakers based on what you can afford.

Hire a Professional Speaker

You want to be sure that the person you engage as a guest speaker is qualified. Most professional speakers charge for their services. Speakers who don’t care are not always the caliber you want to have highlighted for your event. Do the extra research to find a qualified professional speaker to ensure you offer the best speaker you can afford and one your event attendees will enjoy.

The exception to engaging a free speaker is if you know the speaker personally or have heard her/him speak. Under such circumstances, an offer to speak without a fee may be advantageous.  Use your best judgement.

#2 What Do Attendees Want?

One of the most important considerations when hiring a speaker is that the person fulfills attendee expectations. You need to understand or in some cases find out what your audience wants from a speaker.

The topics you present should be relevant to your industry. Your ideal is for attendees to appreciate what your speaker has to say. Attendees should be able to relate to the speaker’s message.

Surveys Reveal Attendee Expectations

The easiest way to determine what attendees need from your event, especially what they need your speaker to deliver is to revisit surveys. Review surveys you’ve conducted at the end of events.

  • What were the things attendees found good?
  • More importantly, what things did attendees expect from the event but didn’t receive?
  • Did you provide a place for attendees to suggest future speakers?

After reviewing these surveys, can you answer the following question: What kind of speaker should you hire to deliver those needs and expectations?

If you don’t have a clear answer for this question then you need more information. If you’ve never conducted a survey of your event attendees and clients, then it’s time to create one.

Make it short with 5-7 questions. Include the link in your next newsletter or send out an email blast just for the survey. Be sure to follow survey guidelines and offer something in exchange for your clients’ time, such as coupons, event discounts or virtual rewards.

#3 Video or Live Performance

Seeing a potential speaker perform is the best way to gauge if there’s a fit for your event. If you can attend an event in person, then you can experience the speaker’s abilities firsthand.

If you aren’t fortunate enough to see the speaker perform, then you might find a video of the speaker at another event. Speakers often include a brief clip of their events on their websites or social media.

Check out YouTube to see if the speaker has uploaded a video. If the speaker is an instructor in your field, there’s a strong possibility she/he has a tutorial online. For example, a chef or baker might have a cooking class video or an artist might have a tutorial on a specific technique or project. Instagram is another possible resource for past performances and tutorials.

Attendees may have also uploaded videos of their experiences on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter,

#4 Value to Attendees

Once you have determined which topics attendees’ desire and what their expectations are, you can begin evaluating potential speakers. You will need to assess the speaker and how her/his background, experience and specialty offer value to your clients/attendees.

Answer a few questions, such as:

  • How do the speaker’s credentials meet the needs and expectations of your attendees?
  • What does the speaker offer your attendees? New methods or skills? Innovative marketing ideas? Fresh ideas?
  • Is the speaker current and relevant to your industry?
  • Will attendees recognize the speaker as someone respected in your industry?
  • Will the speaker engage attendees?
  • Is the speaker entertaining?
  • Does the speaker have a good message applicable to attendees?

#5 Testimonials and Referrals

Whether or not you know the speaker, testimonials and referrals are some of the best ways to vet a potential speaker. Ways to acquire these vital recommendations include:

  • Speaker’s personal website
  • Related organization websites
  • Twitter, both the speakers twitter account and hashtags about the speaker
  • Facebook page comments
  • Instagram and other social media
  • Clients may offer referrals
  • Business organizations and associations
  • Ask speaker for reference/referral contact information

Assessing Potential Speakers

Take your time and be thorough in your process of selecting a speaker. Set your criteria and be prepared when you interview speakers. A good speaker can make or break your event. If you stick to a game plan, everyone, including your speaker, will be satisfied and have a great time.