October 2014

Checklist: Hiring a Keynote Speaker

By Diane Goodman

Savvy meeting planners view a speakers bureau as an extension of their team, helping them research, secure and coordinate speaker logistics. The following checklist will keep you on track with booking the right speaker for your event.

Start with the basics:
✔ When is the meeting?
✔ Where is the meeting?
✔ Is the time or date flexible?
✔ How often is this meeting held?

Understand the audience:
Audience demographics and characteristics can be crucial in selecting the right speaker. Speakers bureaus can immediately recommend, or eliminate from consideration, certain speakers based on the demographic of the attendees.
✔ Age ranges
✔ Male/female ratio
✔ Educational and professional background

Consider stakeholder perspective:
Meeting planners can save time and energy by learning what’s important to company leadership and decision-makers before researching speakers.
✔ What challenges is your industry, organization or audience facing?
✔ What personal interests inspire your executive team? Are they fans of a particular sports or books? What are their hobbies?

Define the meeting objective and program format:
✔ What is the overall objective of this meeting?
✔ What is the strategic message or program theme that you wish to communicate?
✔ What type of speaker would help you accomplish this?
✔ How will the meeting format be structured to communicate this message?
✔ Where on the agenda would the speaker be most effective?

Define speaker expectations:
Defining expectations helps the speakers bureau make the right recommendations and allows the speaker to customize his or her presentation to meet program goals.
✔ What expectations do you have for the speaker? How can they support your meeting’s objective?
✔ What ideal “takeaways” would you like the speaker’s presentation to deliver?
✔ Beyond the keynote, will the speaker have other responsibilities? (i.e., question-and-answer session, book signing, reception attendance, follow-up webinar)
✔ How important is the keynote speaker to the overall success of the meeting?

Conduct a post-event review:
Once the event is over, assess the role of the speaker and how he or she impacted the overall event.
✔ Did he or she add value to the theme of the meeting?
✔ Did he or she meet stakeholder expectations?
✔ Did he or she meet your audience’s expectations? Did attendees respond well? In what ways?
✔ What are your additional thoughts or comments about the speaker?

Diane Goodman, CMP, is president of the Goodman Speakers Bureau, an independent speakers bureau that helps meeting planners find and secure the right speaker for each event.

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