Finding the right speaker for your event is crucial. Whether it’s a training event for your board and staff or a conference for your members, whom you choose to speak matters.
I have the privilege of working with over 100 speakers in my role with the Institute program. Over the years, I’ve gained a greater understanding of how to find truly great speakers. Below are some tips that have helped me in this process.
Conduct a phone interview
A phone interview can distinguish a great speaker from just an okay speaker. If someone keeps my attention and makes me feel engaged over the phone, which can be tricky, I have confidence in his or her ability to engage the audience. Phone interviews can be uncomfortable because they seem impersonal. When I interview a potential speaker who is able to make me feel a personal connection over the phone, I know he or she has the energy and skill to create a personal connection with future audience members.
Know your audience
What sort of speaker resonates with your audience? For example, will a seasoned professional with vast experience or an innovative, futuristic Millennial resonate more? What type of teaching style does your audience prefer? What is the knowledge level of your audience on the topic that will be discussed? Once you know the answers to these questions, you’re more likely to find a speaker who will make a powerful impact on your audience.
Ask for referrals from your past speakers
If you’ve had speakers hit it out of the park for you in the past, ask them for referrals. If speaking and consulting is their business, they’re likely tuned into who the “greats” are in the industry. Plus, it makes them look good when you extend an offer and mention that you received the referral from them.
Ask potential speakers for references
As I mentioned before, a phone interview can highlight great potential speakers. However, sometimes after a phone interview, I can tell the individual will be a “good” speaker, but I am not certain he or she will be a “great” speaker. When that’s the case, I recommend sending a follow-up email asking the potential speaker to send you the names and contact information of a couple of individuals they’ve worked with during past speaking engagements. Take a few minutes to get in touch with these individuals and gather feedback. Here are some questions to ask these references:
- What type of teaching style did the speaker use?
- Did your audience rate the speaker after the presentation? What were the ratings?
- Would you use this speaker again?
- Of the speakers you’ve used in the past, would you rank this speaker in the top 10 percent of those you’ve used?
Finding the right speaker for your event is key to a positive attendee experience. Take the time needed to vet potential speakers to ensure you find the absolute best for your event.