HOW TO CHOOSE A GUEST SPEAKER AND SELECT THE RIGHT SPEAKER FOR MY EVENT?

Selecting your guest speaker is one of the most important elements of a successful meeting or conference. Selecting the right business speaker can bring new insights into business strategy and selecting the right HR speaker can educate, inspire, and motivate employees to make the changes required to perform and align with the organization’s goals. Searching for a speaker can be an overwhelming task and selecting the right speaker can become a high-pressure situation for organizing teams as leaders expect a successful event. Speakers Bureau of Canada is Canada’s best resource to search, find and book virtual and keynote speakers in Canada. We have compiled a list of tips that will make your meeting a success.

WHAT ARE THE NEEDS OF YOUR AUDIENCE?

Determining the needs of your audience is essential in selecting the right public speakers. Does your meeting require that the audience will leave with specific or technical information to advance their careers, or do you require a motivational speaker to inspire the group for a mindset or behavioural shift? Is your event a gala or awards ceremony which requires an after-dinner speaker or entertainment with a message or a conference keynote speaker for a large conference opening or closing presentation? Most importantly you want whatever speaker you hire to activate your audience during and after the event through their presentation. Hiring a motivational keynote speaker should be seen as an investment and it is essential that you learn what your audience requires in order to achieve the results the organizations have set out before selecting the perfect speaker.

ESTABLISH THE EVENT DATE, TIME, AUDIENCE MOOD AND BUDGET

Start to search for a speaker as soon as you have learned there is a possible event or meeting that requires an external perspective. Once the date has been set, it is important that you have some ideas in place as well as some established resources to search and find speakers for the engagement. Many professional speakers book speaking events up a year in advance, and you will want to get on their calendar and hold the date as soon as possible if they are available.

Consider how much time you have to fill within the program, how much time you want the speaker to speak for, and where the speaker’s session falls within the overall program. If you have flexibility within the program or you can shuffle the agenda to work around the speakers presentation, a professional motivational speaker can work with you to determine the length and duration of the presentation to best suit the daily course of the event programming.

Have multiple meetings to discuss the event dates, travel logistics, event format, presentation format, what the attendees will be doing that day, and discuss how the speaker fits into the program. If there are sessions before and after the speakers presentation, making sure that the mood of the audience is aligned with the presentation style of the speaker. The order of presentations matters as two technical sessions in a row may call for a high energy engaging speaker or funny motivational speaker to lift up the audience and motivate them between educational sessions.

Factor in the fee you are willing to pay for the public speaker and the value they can offer the audience. Do not try to negotiate pricing based on the time/duration of the session, as speakers do not charge by the hour. Your search for the perfect speaker will be dependent on the budget allocated for each session, and your leaders must determine the level of investment for the speaker before you can search.

HOW TO IDENTIFY THE TYPE OF GUEST SPEAKER WHO WILL BEST MATCH THE NEEDS OF THE AUDIENCE?

It is important consider and weigh different factors on the needs of your audience, organization, and the event itself. Are you holding a virtual event that requires a high energy speaker that can engage the audience? Will the audience be inspired most by a politician, celebrity, or icon? Maybe you are looking to activate your audience through a motivational speaker that educates and inspires results. You may want to explore a leading industry expert or thought leader who can bring a new strategy for you to implement right within ones career. Maybe it is best to have a business speaker, sports motivational speaker, Olympic athlete speaker or best-selling author that can use their experience to share the knowledge they have learned in their profession.

A professional guest speaker’s expertise within a specific topic theme or industry can be a big draw since they will almost automatically resonate with the audience. A celebrity speaker or big-name speaker will also engage for a high number of attendees to want to participate in the event. Although this approach may work for ticketed events, well known names do not always guarantee a professional approach to the event or an impactful presentation. High prices do not always mean that you will receive a high-quality keynote presentation at a conference or event. Each of these guest speakers can activate the audience however by knowing the speaker’s ability to be successful with each audience personality it will give you more insight before researching a speaker.

WHERE CAN I GET A KEYNOTE SPEAKER OR HOW DO I REACH A GUEST SPEAKER?

Locate your resources to search and reach out to speakers for an event. Personal referrals are a great way to narrow your search and find a speaker familiar with the audience. Asking colleagues for recommendations or even some of your larger corporate clients is a great way to find a qualified professional speaker.

Speakers Bureau’s like the Speakers Bureau of Canada is one of the top ways to search, find and book a speaker according to your specifications and needs to meet your requirements. Speaker bureaus and talent agencies that are registered with the International Association of Speakers Bureaus (IASB) are the most credible and reputable within the speaking industry. The Canadian bureaus part of IASB represent Canada’s top speakers and will have access to any speaker for any event. A motivational speaker bureau and keynote speakers bureau can locate any speaker in Canada and provide a quote for the fees for a conference or virtual event. Many speakers’ bureaus specialize in representing speakers for any topic theme, and Speakers Canada’s has a long list of motivational speakers that are celebrities, Olympic athletes, industry experts, thought leaders, event hosts, authors and executives and corporate business leaders that combine their education, experience, and personal journey to deliver a powerful and impactful presentation. Click here to jump to The Speakers Bureau of Canada’ Online Directory of Professional Speakers. This directory contains information on more than 300 of to Canadian public speakers and guest speakers and can be searched by topic, keyword, location, name and so on.

Personal referrals are also a great way to narrow your search or to get personal opinion about a potential guest speaker. Ask colleagues for recommendations or even some of the clients you serve to find out if they have hired a speaker that is worth looking into. You can also run a speakers name by a speakers bureau agent, your team members, or your customers to see if they have ever heard the speaker speak to their group.

Search online is also a good way to find a speaker. If you see a speaker on multiple speaker bureaus or if you have found a speaker bureau with a large list of professional speakers, you will be able to write down a list of speakers or contact the agency to have them provide you with their fees and availability for the event.

HOW DO I FIND A SPEAKER FOR A WEBINAR? 

Finding a virtual speaker is much like finding a motivational keynote speaker or guest speaker. You want to check in with other organizations or ask your team members if they have participated in a webinar in the past that had an engaging speaker. The best way to find virtual keynote speakers for a webinar is to contact a Canadian speakers bureau to have them provide you with a list of expert virtual presenters for the topics you hope to address within the session. As a virtual speakers bureau in Canada, SBC has become a major resource to search and find best virtual keynote speakers for virtual meetings. Whether you are looking for a dynamic virtual speaker who can deliver an interactive presentation online or a virtual keynote speaker for an online conference or summit, Speakers Bureau Canada and our speakers are able to meet and exceed the expectations for audiences for ZOOM and MS TEAMS events.

HOW TO HIRE A VIRTUAL SPEAKER FOR AN ONLINE EVENT?

Virtual keynote speakers and online speakers are different than an in person professional speaker. Virtual speakers have invested in their content to be highly engaging and often possess a high energy speaking style that engages the audience. One of the best things about virtual speakers and online meetings is that before you select the speaker, you can meet them virtually often on the same platform as your event and with the virtual speakers home set up in the background. This acts an introduction to the virtual speaker and what they will look like to the audience on the day of your meeting. It also gives you insight on how the speaker comes across in a virtual setting. When hiring virtual speakers for online events, it is important to get to know the offerings the speaker will provide the audience throughout the session. Each speaker will have their own approach to engage the audience virtually, and it is important for you to request to learn all the different ways the speaker can deliver the content and interact with the attendees in a virtual format. Virtual and online meetings will often have polls or creative ways to keep the audience engagement throughout the session and motivational guest speakers may not all have the same understanding, skillset, or knowledge to be able to support an online event.

REVIWING YOUR SPEAKER OPTIONS AND INTERVIEW YOUR SPEAKER CANDIDATES

CREATE A LIST OF POTENTIAL SPEAKERS Once you have found your virtual speakers, motivational keynote speakers or guest speakers, it is important you create a list of all potential candidates that could be a fit or that are of interest to you and your team. A professional speaker will be a partner in your process and will want to give you the opportunity to showcase their full skillset, knowledge how they create life changing experiences for the attendees.

CONNECT WITH THE SPEAKER FOR AN INTERVIEW – During the interview, ask the speakers for testimonials and references at previous events they attended as a speaker. If they are speaking in your area or delivering a virtual presentation, you may also request that you attend the session within the program and see them in action before making a decision.

ASK ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCE AND REQUEST MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THEM – Confirm that they have presented to similar audiences and addressed organizations like yours in the past. Talk with them about their experience at other events with similar audience sizes and session formats. As for video references for their live appearance and virtual presentations. This will give you a better idea of some of the content, their speaking ability and how invested they are into their speaking.

DO THE HAVE A PROFESSIONAL APPROACH TO EACH EVENT? Find a motivational speaker that will tailor their presentation for your group and the desired learning outcomes of the presentation. Ask them their approach and next steps if you are to select them so that you and your team can outline if their process aligns with yours, to meet the session criteria and your needs.

LEARN ABOUT THEIR CREDIBILITY, SPEAKING ABILITY AND SOME BACKGROUND INFORMATION – Ask the speaker about their personal accomplishments, awards, certifications, education, and years speaking in the industry. Ask them if they belong to any associations, sit on any boards, or belong to a speakers bureau. This will give you more insight to their credibility. If you learn that the speaker is a CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) or a Hall of Fame speaker, they should automatically be considered or shortlisted by your team since this is one of the highest designations to receive in the speaking industry.

SELECT YOUR SPEAKER

Shortlist your top 2 or 3 speakers and have another meeting to discuss the direction your team members feel most confident with and vote on the guest speaker or virtual speaker that will be most successful with your audience. Weigh each benefit a speaker can bring to the audience and the value you will receive through your investment. Calculate potential risks in working with each speaker to narrow down your choice.

When you hire a professional speaker, you are contracting a direct contributor to help you make the event a success. Motivational keynote speakers understand that their reputation, the event planning teams reputation, and the organizations reputation is all on the line and counting on their performance. When investing and selecting your motivational speaker, consider they have often presented to hundreds of audiences and by working with a Canadian speaker on a bureau, it will add peace of mind to your decision and give confidence that the speaker will be able to engage, motivate, educate, and activate the audience at the conference, event, or meeting.

Good speakers will be responsive to working with you leading up to the event. Great speakers will give you new ideas and will spend hours researching, preparing, and customizing the presentation to ensure it aligns with the host organizations needs and session requirements. Speakers Canada’s talented agents and speakers will be able to negotiate speaker fees when they are booked for multiple events or present multiple presentations within the program. Professional speakers also have books or online training they can offer attendees as door prizes or a discounted rate to be included when they are booked for an event. Ask about your options and finalize your decision no later than 14 days after you have connected with the speakers, as each speaker will be working other requests and can become unavailable on your date.

CONTACT THE SPEAKER YOU HAVE SELECTED AND THE SPEAKERS THAT YOU DECIDED NOT TO WORK WITH

The day that you have decided on the speaker, it is important to contact the speaker or the speakers agent to request that they place a hold on the date of your event. Professional speakers get a lot of requests and operate a dynamic schedule. It is important that once you know the speaker you want to work with that, they are aware of the booking so that they can rework their calendars and start looking into arranging travel or move other commitments around your date.

It is also important to inform the speakers you did not choose to speak at the event as they will all be eager to receive the update to learn if they have been selected. Like any business, speakers are very busy and will consider each opportunity that comes their way and by contacting the other speakers to tell them to remove the date from their schedule, thank them for their time and to let them know that they will not be speaking at your event is important to keep a professional approach and reputation with speakers.

Speakers Bureau of Canada does this all for you, so you don’t have to contact multiple speakers at each stage of your decision process. We can thank them on your behalf without you ever having to connect with them or let them know which speaker you selected. We keep your information confidential and maintain a strong relationship with clients and speakers throughout the process.

DRAFT AND FINALIZE THE AGREEMENT – GET IT IN WRITING

Speakers Bureau Canada and our professional speakers to not engage an event without a contract agreement in place before the event. The agreement is the final confirmation for the speaker, and it is the opportunity for your organization to outline all the logistics and contributions for the speaker. The speaking industry is all about managing and confirming expectations, and professional motivational speaker will insist to have an executed contract or working agreement in place before they make an appearance or start researching the content for the session.

When drafting the agreement, it is important to consider:

  • Speaker cancellations policies
  • Client cancellations policies
  • Force Majeure cancellations policies
  • Travel logistics, flights, car rentals, ground transportation, hotel accommodations, meals, parking, and incidentals
  • Fees, applicable taxes, reimbursements, and payment terms – deposit, after services are rendered, or full payment before the event
  • If the session will have an audio or video broadcast, videotaped/recorded
  • Other commitments for the speaker at the event or if you want the speaker to attend any social events or meeting while on site
  • If the speaker may sell books or products at the event to attendees and if so, how it will be handled
  • The event information, audience information and engagement details.
  • Important deliverables with dates for slides, or important meetings
  • Contact information for the speaker to get in touch with while on site or before the event takes place.
  • legal implications, if any, your contract may contain for applicable laws, disputes, and resolutions

ESTABLISH STRONG COMUNICATION WITH THE SPEAKER EARLY ON

Establishing the best method of contacting the speaker, the best time to get a hold of them and to coordinate important meeting times for the content creative discovery call will help you learn and clearly outline the expectations in working with the speaker leading up to the event. Event organizers can often be stressed as the event approaches quicky, and it does not serve anyone to leave things to the last minute. Professional speakers will usually want to start working on an event 30 days to 90 days before it takes place.

If the speaker must submit slides for translation, create a promotional video or share social media promotion for the event, having clear dates set along with discussing the content will be an important time to make sure there are no delays or surprises leading up to the conference. It is also recommended to receive their promotional materials such as their headshot, bio, topic descriptions right after you complete the agreement. You may also want to ask the speaker if they have a favorite video or podcast that you are permitted to share with your attendees to engage them before the event takes place. Without strong communication with the speaker, you limit promotional opportunities but most importantly the speaker will not be prepared as they could be if you were to establish communication at an early stage after booking them.

WHAT TO SHARE WITH THE SPEAKER TO MAKE THEIR SESSION A SUCCESS

When you work with a professional speaker it is important that they access as much information about the audience, company, event themes and the topic theme you have identified for them to speak about. Professional speakers will want to become familiar with your organization, the criteria for the session and all the event details so they can facilitate a customized presentation that resonates with each audience member on a specific subject matter. Expert motivational speakers and virtual speakers will ask great questions to give them an internal perspective on the audience to meet the organizations goals.

Here are some ideas on what to send the speaker and to prepare for the speaker as you work with them to discuss the content of their presentation:

  • Meet with your team and provide the speaker a clear outline of what you and your team expect
  • Be specific about the demographics and the size of your audience and their professions
  • If available, share the results, statistics, and videos of previous events and the speakers you worked with
  • Inform the speaker about other speakers you have hired that will be presenting before them, after them and in the full program.
  • Allow the speaker to connect with other speakers booked, so that they can build off the content and not duplicate or replicate similar learning outcomes from complimentary speakers in the program.
  • Provide the speaker with the technical or A/V requirements on site or the virtual software platform utilized to deliver the session
  • Send them your website, newsletters, promotional materials, social media handles
  • Include important contact information for representative who will be meeting them on site or are involved in the IT, A/V, or production for the event.
  • Give the speaker some industry buzz words, lingo, important accomplishments, or challenges of the organization since the previous event.
  • Connect them to the host or representative who be introducing them before their presentation.

SET THE STAGE AT THE EVENT

Speakers will want to know the room set up, location and audience seating before they arrive on site. They will want to familiarize and test the equipment before their presentation so there are no surprises during the session. Making sure the room and technical set up is clearly outlined for the speaker and knowing the speakers preferences and A/V needs will help you prepare in case you must request the venue or representative to make adjustments.

Make sure the room is set up for optimum impact. No echoes in the room, a good sound system and arranging the room to be focused on the front stage. Make sure the lighting is perfect for the speaker and that the room temperature is set to accommodate a large audience. Consider how many attendees will be there and if the room size fits the audience size or if there will be extra space not being utilized in case you can maximize use of the space. Have your speaker sit with other presenters or the executive leaders so they are noticed by other participants as a special guest and so that the speaker can gain insider knowledge to what the leaders hope to achieve at the event.

THE PRESENTATION AND PROGRAM

Although a professional guest speaker will be able adapt their presentation to any time you require, having each session program run smoothly assists production teams to align with the speakers presentation. Keeping your program can be difficult, however by hiring a professional emcee or event host, they can assist with improvising on the fly to keep the program on track. Keeping the program schedule on time will allow your audience to get the full impact of the daily program and sessions without to keep them engaged.

All professional motivational speakers should provide you with their speaker introduction, and whether it is a virtual event or an in-person event, you will want an organization representative, sponsor, or the event host to introduce them before the session to give a short bio and a little information about the speaking topics. The intro should be short, energizing, accurate and create positive expectations for the audience with a warm welcome for the speaker.

AFTER THE PRESENTAITON– WAS IT A SUCCESS?

Evaluate the results of the speakers presentation by polling attendees or having the audience complete evaluation forms on what they enjoyed or didn’t like about the speaker or the session. Have them give a rating for the speaker and ask audience members what they walked away with from the speakers presentation.

This will enable you to collect usable information for gauge the results for the speaker and if the session was a success. It will also help you plan and organize future events by getting to know the audience and their expectations.