Event planning is no easy task. You have to think about everything from parking to what color tablecloths should go on the buffet tables. But, not all considerations are created equal when it comes to the success of your event. One of the most important elements is the keynote speaker, and it is imperative you find the person who will engage, entertain and inform your audience, someone who will deliver the message you are hoping to convey in the way you want it. Regardless of the theme, there is likely no shortage of experts from which to choose, and it may seem like a daunting task.
What is Your Entertainment vs. Information Ratio?
Unless you are presenting on an ultra-serious topic, you probably want a speaker whose program includes a mix of entertainment and information. To find the best person for your needs, you must decide what sort of ratio you are looking for specifically. Some speakers focus fully on entertainment while others have programs that pretty much focus on the information. Before signing on with anyone, make sure you discuss your preferences and that he or she can tailor the program to your specifications.
What are You Hoping to Accomplish with the Program?
Before you can find the best fit for your event, you must clarify exactly what you hope to achieve from presenting this speaker to your audience. What is the goal? Are you hoping to get people to take a specific action? Are you hoping to convey a certain type of message? Do you want to inspire or inform?
Level of Customization
Not all talks need to be customized to each particular audience. But, if you think a particular speaker’s message would need some tweaks to be relevant to your audience, it is important to first figure out exactly what sort of changes you would like, and how amenable a speaker may be to making such changes.
Reaching out to people who have utilized the services of a particular person or company before is one of the best ways to determine whether to use them as well. But, we often don’t. When it comes to choosing a keynote speaker, it is easy to overlook this step. The initial interview goes well; the website looks great; you saw some good clips on their website or YouTube channel. He belongs to several professional organizations and has lots of awards. After all this, you may not feel the need to reach out to people who have hired him in the past, but this can be a mistake. Talk to previous clients before deciding on your speaker.
Awards and Affiliations
Look into whether the speaker is part of any professional organizations or has won any awards. This can be a great indicator of a quality speaker dedicated to his craft. But, these things alone are not automatic indicators of quality and experience. He may have a slew of awards listed on his website bio, but some of them may mean very little, while others indicate significant achievement. Some biggies include the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) and the Council of Peers Award for Excellence (CPAE). Before getting too impressed with what is listed there, do a bit of digging on the awards to gauge whether they are meaningful. On the flip side, a lack of awards and affiliations does not necessarily indicate a dud speaker. This brings me to my next point…
Go with Your Gut Instincts
After all, is said and done, you will be left with feelings about certain people. This is not something to be ignored. If you just don’t click with the speaker who came highly recommended by a colleague, find someone else. If you don’t feel like a speaker would be a good fit for your event, regardless of experience and accolades, move on to the next person.