4 Crucial Tips for Choosing Your Next Keynote Speaker

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A good guest speaker for your event can do wonders for attendance, interest, and media attention, but how do you know which guest speaker is the right to choose? How much should you pay for speaker? Where can you get the best deal for a speaker? How do you know which speaker will be the best fit for your audience?


Here are some key tips for choosing your next keynote speaker!

1. Mind your budget

One of my fondest memories is of my time as president of a Young Americans for Liberty chapter when I attended Delaware State University. I loved organizing events, canvassing campus, and creating positions and duties for my fellow members.

While running my chapter I came across a TED talk with Marvin Ammori talking about the importance of freedom of speech. After hearing him speak I knew immediately that I wanted to bring him to my school to talk to the student body, so I began researching him and was eventually able to get in contact with his agent.

The only problem was that my chapter didn’t have the $8,500 speaking fee that this man required to give a speech on campus. I learned a lesson that day about budgeting out for guest speakers, an unaffordable one.

When hiring a keynote speaker for your event you should apply the same amount of scrutiny that you apply to the rest of your event budget. This includes not only speaking fees but possible extra costs such as travel and lodging accommodations.

When budgeting out these certain costs you can consult with a speaker booking service that can take your budget limitations into account when managing your search for a guest speaker that will fit your event.

2. Research past speaking appearances for possible candidates

Everyone has a past and the internet is a fantastic tool for digging up that past. The truth is, once your speaker is on stage, there is very little you can do to stop something bad from happening if it is going to happen. Being prepared for whatever your speaker is going to deliver to your event is key to choosing exactly which speaker you want to attend.

The best way to make this decision is to go back and watch previous talks given by the speaker (which can be fulfilled by a simple Google search or requesting footage of speeches and talks from the speakers themselves) and ask around to other organizations and companies that hired your prospective speaker in the past. Did they deliver on the topics at hand? Were they difficult to work with? Did their expenses rack up?

As an added measure you should also attempt some sort of face-to-face or online conference meeting with your prospective speaker to assess whether or not they are the right fit for your event and organization.

3. Consider your guests when ultimately choosing your speaker

When Dreamforce had Hillary Clinton and Tony Robbins speak at their event they had a specific demographic in mind for these speakers.

Is your event geared towards younger college students? Then perhaps an energetic and slightly edgier speaker would fit the crowd, while a more professional and older speaker would be better suited for a more mature business audience. You have to know your attendees.

Then, of course, you can also use your attendees themselves as a helpful resource for choosing a speaker. After you boil down your list of potential keynote speakers to  three to five choices, you should poll your attendees on who they would rather see on stage using either social media, or the survey features offered within your event management software.

4. Consider Rising Stars

It is tempting to throw all your money into a speaker that has a huge profile and a name that is instantly recognizable, however even some of the most famous people are not the best public speakers. Focusing on quality is important when choosing a speaker, but it doesn’t have to come at the monstrous cost of hiring a huge celebrity.

Jeff Hurt, Executive VP of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, suggests that hiring someone who is scheduled to have future exposure in TV, movies, or print gives you solid choices for speakers at a fraction of the cost.

“Work with a bureau in looking at what movies or books will be released right before your conference starts,” says Hurt. “If the movie is [a biopic] about an unknown person, that’s the perfect time to hire said unknown person. Secure them a year out to speak at your conference in a general session.”

Seizing the opportunity to hire someone who is relatively unknown can save you big money before their speaking fees skyrocket after they find that major fame.


Do you agree with our tips? Is there anything else you think I missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Looking for Event Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Event Management software solutions.

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About the Author


Nick Morpus

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Nick Morpus is a former Capterra analyst.



Great Work I am impressed with your work as it makes me feel enthusisatic.
Well Done

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