Hiring a speaker for an event? Good for you! The right speaker can provide energy, engagement, and valuable information for your attendees. On the other hand, a bad speaker or a speaker who’s the wrong fit can be a very bad mark against your conference, leaving people bored at best, and annoyed and angry at worst.
Below are some questions to ask when hiring a speaker for an event. The first batch is for you and your committee to answer before you even start your search. The second batch has questions you can ask speakers to make sure they are the right speaker for you.
Five Questions to Ask Yourself When Hiring a Speaker
- What action(s) do I want the audience to take as a result of the presentation?
When you hire a speaker, one of the primary things you’re looking for is actionable content. There are some exceptions, for example, if you want someone to just entertain. But for the most part, whether it’s a company event or an association conference, your audience wants to hear a speaker give them ideas they can implement. Ask yourself, what do you want your audience to do differently as a result of hearing the speaker? The answer will direct your search.
- What do I want the audience to feel?
This sounds like a touchy feely question, but it is critically important for a conference. Earlier I said that we want people to take action. Sometimes it’s more important to have the audience to feel a certain way. For example, if you are hiring an opening speaker, maybe it’s very important they make the audience feel energized, or happy. Maybe you want a speaker who’s going to come in and get your people to start really taking a new problem seriously, where you want them to feel a little anxious, or focused. Different speakers focus on different feelings. Make sure you go in knowing what you want your audience to feel as a result of hearing the speaker.
- What problem is your audience struggling with?
One of the best things speakers do is solve specific problems. As a funny motivational speaker myself, I know that when a client comes to me with a specific problem their people are struggling with, it makes it much easier for me to make my content on point. Think about your audience, and determine what problem they’re struggling with before you reach out to your speaker.
- What is my audience expecting, and how can I surprise them?
Many professionals attend lots of conferences and see lots of speakers. As a result, they go into general sessions and presentations with a lot of expectations. Not all their expectations are good. They could be expecting something boring. They could be expecting a lot of PowerPoint with a ton of numbers which isn’t much fun to watch. Maybe they’re expecting something very funny, or light, or fluffy. Ask yourself, what do they expect? Then ask yourself, how can we surprise them? If you just give the audience what they’re expecting, they’re going to get bored! They might not hate the event, but it’s not going to be memorable. Ask what their expectations are, and think about things you can do to surprise them.
- What’s my budget?
A good speaker will cost money. Some people start their search with no idea about how much they are willing to spend. When hiring a speaker you will be more successful if you have a rough idea, at least, of what your speaker budget is. That will help you narrow down your search. It will help you use websites. It will give you a better conversation when you do reach out to the speaker, because you’ll know the things to ask.
Five Questions to Ask a Keynote Speaker (Besides, “Are you available,” and, “What’s your fee?”)
- What actionable items will my audience walk away with?
This ties back into question #1 that you ask yourself. When hiring a speaker, ask him/her what they intend the audience to do as a result of their talk. The speaker should be able to tell you that, “Usually, after my talk, people do x, y, and/or z.”
- What “feeling” words do people use after your presentation?
Again, tying back into #2 from above. Ask the speaker how they’ll make the audience feel. You might get some weird answers, but you’ll usually hear things like, energized, reactive, motivated, contemplative, etc. Then you can see if those tie into the feelings you’re looking for.
- What makes you different from other speakers on this topic?
Most topics that are in demand, like leadership, sales, and change management, have lots of speakers. You want to find out, at least in the speaker’s mind, what makes them different. Why should you hire them instead of another speaker who presents the same topic? This will go a long way to help you surprise your audience and exceed their expectations.
- How can you customize your message to our needs?
Once you know what problem you want to solve, you want to make sure the speaker isn’t just going to come in and deliver their canned talk. You want them to tie their message, their theme, and their points, to your specific needs and challenges. Any good speaker will be able to do this, even speakers whose focus is humor, motivation, or entertainment. They should be able to explain how they can tie their content to your needs.
- What are your logistical needs?
This is usually a question you ask after, not before, hiring a speaker. However, it’s good to ask this question in advance, simply because those logistical needs might affect whether or not you want that speaker. For example, a speaker may have certain stage requirements that you don’t want to do or can’t handle. They may have certain audience technology needs that would add cost to your bottom line without you realizing it. Finding some of these things out in advance will save everyone a lot of headaches.
Hiring a Speaker? Check Out “Funny Motivational Speaker” Avish Parashar
If you’d like something high-energy, interactive, funny, content-packed, and unlike anything your audience has seen before, then you need to check out Avish Parashar!
Using interactive improv comedy, Avish creates an experience your audience will never forget. To see Avish in action, check out his motivational speaker videos page (and be sure to watch his Demo Video and TEDx talk)!
These are just a few questions to get you started. There are obviously more, but if you start with these, you will be well on your way to hiring a great speaker for your next conference or event.