Cartoon of an entertaining keynote speaker

An essential part of planning a corporate event is to find and hire a keynote speaker. The responsibility of a good speaker is to help set the tone for your conference and to motivate and inspire your attendees.

It’s worth it to take time to find a motivational keynote speaker who will keep everyone entertained and awake! 

Events can easily fall short when you don’t bring in a good speaker. A vibrant presentation will help people transition from their day-to-day to being actively engaged with your conference.

Tips and Tricks in Finding A Keynote Speaker

So, how do you find and hire a conference keynote speaker that won’t put you to sleep? 

You want to find someone whose core beliefs align with the theme of your event. And they need to be an expert in captivation. To find this person, you’ll need to do some research. So here are some tips and tricks to help you find a keynote speaker who will rock your conference.  

Ask yourself the five w’s 

You’re probably wondering what the five w’s are. Think back to elementary English class. When writing we have to ask who, what, when, where, and why. They are the ultimate questions for crafting a narrative. Think about what you want the outcome of the event to be.

If you ask yourself these five key questions, it will help you find a keynote who aligns with your goals.

1. Who is your audience? The very first question you should ask yourself is who. Who are you trying to engage? If you’re planning an internal conference, your audience is made up of the people who work for the company. If you don’t know much about the employees, it’s worth the time to learn about them. You should consider the company culture and ask yourself questions like, “should this be formal or casual?”

You can almost think of this as a marketing exercise and the product you’re trying to sell in this situation is the speaker. In marketing, you have to learn your target audience to figure out how to sell the product to them. Learning about your audience will give you a better outlook on what type of keynote speaker to hire. 

2. What is your budget?  Budget is extremely important when you plan for anything, so why wouldn’t it be the same when you hire a keynote speaker? Once you know who your target audience is and have somewhat of an idea of a theme, you can start to hone in on keynote speakers by price. The price can range from free for a beginner keynote speaker to $100,000 and more for a celebrity keynote speaker.

You’ll also have to think about travel expenses if you’re hiring someone from out of town. Determine your budget ahead of time. This way you won’t get excited about hiring a keynote speaker and then find out you can’t afford him or her.

3. When is the event? After you do your research and narrow it down to the best speakers, you’ll need to check availability. Depending on how sought-after they are, scheduling can be one of the hardest things to coordinate. If you already have a timeline, plan to reach out to a few speakers to check their availability.

Be proactive so you don’t have to go back and forth a million times to figure out what which of your choice keynote presenters will align with your conference schedule.

4. Where is the event? Is the event going to be local or will everyone be traveling? This is important information to know when you’re looking to hire keynote speakers. Travel expenses will obviously impact with your budget.

If your attendees are traveling for the event, you can look for keynote speakers in the area you’re going to, in order to keep your costs down. Or maybe you’re staying local and can find a local resource. Or maybe the sky’s the limit and travel is not an obstacle! The point is, determine early in your search if you can afford to pay travel expenses.

5. Why do you want a keynote speaker? You’ve probably already thought about this when deciding to plan the event. To ensure that you find a keynote speaker that fits the theme you have to ask yourself, “why do I want a keynote speaker in the first place?”Don’t just fill the first hour of the day with mindless chatter.

You have to think deeper than that if you want to keep your attendees engaged. What is the subject matter of the conference and how is the speaker going to be relevant? 

Use these available tools

When was the last time you tried to put a nail in the wall without a hammer? Probably never! The right tools make our lives a lot easier. Here are some of my go-to tools to use when you need to hire a speaker.

Social Media – What’s great about social media is that everyone is on it, whether it’s for business or pleasure. LinkedIn, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, you name it. There is a lot of information to sift through, but check out profiles and watch videos to really get a feel for what style of speaker you’re looking for. 

Videos of past events or TED Talks can give a keynote speaker credibility. You never know where you might stumble upon someone’s presentation that resonates with your event theme.

Word-of-Mouth – An oldie, but a goodie are word-of-mouth references. Your friends and colleagues are great sources of information. For example, when you’re searching for a product online, what do you do? If you’re like me, you look at the reviews to see what other people think. Social proof is a powerful thing.

We love to know the experience of our peers to help us make good decisions. So talk to your friends who have recently attended an event with a keynote speaker. I’m sure they’ll have all sorts of great advice. 

Databases – This may not be the quickest way but speaker databases are great resources if you can carve out time to sift through the many speakers listed on them. These types of websites will give you a brief synopsis of the each speaker and what topics they are known for. Most will have videos and reviews for reference.

A few you can check out are ESpeakers, National Speakers Association, and SpeakerMatch. 

Are You Ready To Hire A Keynote Speaker? 

Once you’ve asked yourself all of the right questions and spent the time researching, you should have all of the information you need to hire a keynote speaker. 

  • Remember to identify your goals so you can identify the type of speaker you need. 
  • Then go through this guide, asking the right questions and using the right tools to search. 
  • Remember that the right speaker sets the tone for your event. 

About Billy Kirsch

Billy is a Grammy & Emmy nominated, CMA & ACM award winning songwriter with numerous Top 10 hits to his credit. His team building programs and keynote speaking presentations help people tap into their creative abilities to become more innovative and engaged in their work. Clients include Fortune 100 companies and organizations throughout the world.