Putting together a successful event involves a lot of prep work. You have to deal with finding an appropriate venue that will be comfortable for your audience, a time of year that is convenient for most to travel, a stimulating itinerary for attendees, and more. What many people are now starting to realize is that a keynote speaker is crucial to the success of any conference or event. What most people know then, is that—they should probably have a keynote speaker at their event. What many people don’t know though is how to choose the best candidate to be a keynote. Choosing a keynote speaker is a delicate process and in the end, can be the factor that makes or breaks how successful your event is. That being said, we’re here to make sure you make the right decision. Here are the things you should keep in mind when reviewing candidates for your keynote.
Think of Your Budget
Credit: Meetings and Conventions, North Star Travel Media
Although it’s certainly not the most fun to think about, you have to think about money when it comes to your event. And being that you have to think about money, it’s important to be realistic about what you can afford. Some companies don’t pay their speakers—and in that case, there is such a large draw to the event or conference, that speaking there does more for the speaker than the event organizer. But really, you should consider paying the keynote; prepping to deliver a keynote speech takes a lot of work and time and therefore the speaker should be appropriately compensated. Those who regularly attend speaking engagements have a rate they charge for keynote addresses. Keep in mind that you could choose the speaker that charges less money, but in that case, you may be getting what you pay for (note: it may be smart to splurge), but make sure to keep other factors in mind.
Think of Their Expectations
It’s never fun to get one’s hopes up, right? Therefore, it’s important to not only be realistic about money but also about expectation—not only the expectations of the audience but also of the speaker.
First, think about your audience and what they prefer to get out of the event and conference. Why are they attending? What would their reaction be to the keynote speaker you choose? Keep in mind that they are going to want to get a certain kind of takeaway from the event and also the speakers. Will they be satisfied? It may even be a good idea to do a survey of your typical audience member if you have access to the attendees or consult your client profile.
Think of Entertainment and Engagement Value
There are different types of speakers you can choose to hire. You can hire a speaker who is more of a generalist or you can hire a speaker that is an expert in their industry. Either way, you want to be prepared for what to expect from them in terms of entertainment value. How do they plan to deliver their speech? What sort of content do they plan to deliver?
The content of the speech can be good, valuable content—but will it be engaging? Will it entertain the audience? This is something you seriously must consider when choosing a keynote speaker. For example, a well-known and awarded scientist may have a wealth of knowledge for your target audience in his industry, but is he going to be able to present it in a way that makes the audience want to interact from him, learn more, and seek more information from you, the organizer? If not, he may not be the best fit.
You’re also going to want a speaker who goes 150% to make sure they’re engaging with your audience of the event. For example, if you’re hosting an event or conference and have an app or a popular hashtag, you’re going to want to hire the kind of speaker who will actively engage with your online community and understand what it is you do before delivering their speech. Because sure, industry experience is essential, but how they continue to use their experience to benefit you leading up to the speaking engagement matters also.
What is the Speaker’s Experience?
This may seem like a no-brainer but it really is important that the keynote speaker you choose have experience in your industry. Check out what other speaking engagements they have had and look at their testimonials. Do the testimonials speech to the value they added to the event? It may also be a good idea to research their professional affiliations and see who they are connected with. Don’t only look at who they are connected with via membership to associations and organizations, but also look on social media. Are they connected to any influencers that have a large role in your industry? Do they have a large following?
Many times, if the candidate is a regular in the public speaking circuit, they will have a published list of upcoming events. If that is the case, then it would be a good idea to attend an event of theirs and take notes on what you do and do not like about their speaking style.
What is Your Goal for the Audience?
In the end, it really is about what you want your audience to get out of the speech the keynote delivers. How your audience reacts and the chain reaction the speaker is able to create is what you want to think about when choosing a keynote speaker. Is the speaker going to encourage social engagement and have your audience buzzing over social media for ages? Will it drive results for your organization and get more attendees for your next event?
This is the mindset you will have to be in when choosing your keynote speaker. Because really, budget and even experience aside, you will have to trust your judgment on whether or not they’ll get a standing ovation from your audience, both directly after their speech and for a good time after that.