Booking the right guest or keynote speaker for your event requires careful preparation. As an executive event planner, you should know the actions to take both before and after your talent booking is finalized. Missing even a single component of speaker preparation can cause confusion, cost money and lead to less-than-desirable outcomes. With this guide, you’ll have a head start to ensure a flawless event for maximum impact.
How do I prepare before booking a speaker?
1. Define your audience and desired outcomes.
First, consider your target audience. What topics and style will best engage them? What do you want them to learn? What actions do you want your employees or other guests to take afterward? What are the desired, long-term benefits?
These are high-view questions that require that you step back from the logistics of planning and consider long-term outcomes. If you are booking a keynote speaker, consider someone who can engage everyone from financial and sales teams to web and marketing personnel. But if you are hiring a guest speaker for select company segments, look for engaging subject matter experts who speak the language at an operational level.
2. Determine your speaker budget.
Know your budget limits. Items such as venues, materials and catering each raise the overall price tag. The cost of hiring a professional speaker is no exception, so you need to remain adaptive and willing to juggle priorities.
Top speakers may run anywhere between $5,000 to $35,000 according to Foundr, but the results can transform entire corporate cultures for the better. Knowing your budget will help you narrow down your options and focus on speakers who fit within your financial constraints. In some cases, booking a virtual speaker may reduce costs. On the other hand, a celebrity speaker will generally come at a higher price. Remain flexible in this early stage. For instance, maybe the celebrity speaker you want has a cost-effective option for virtual or pre-recorded delivery of the keynote address.
3. Online research can deliver your best (and unexpected) public speaker.
Once you have a clear understanding of your event goals, target audience and budget, you can start researching potential speakers. Look for speakers who have expertise in your event’s topic, as well as those who have a reputation for engaging and inspiring audiences like yours.
Even if you have a speaker in mind, perform due diligence by researching potential alternatives. Visit their websites. Know their areas of expertise and look at past clients and reviews. Watch their TEDx addresses or speaking reels. As objectively as possible, consider who best suits your budget, desired outcomes and event theme. Then, narrow down your top choices to just a few potential professional speakers.
4. Check speaker availability and negotiate terms.
Checking the availability of a professional speaker may seem simple at first. After all, they are either available for your event or they are not. But then you go to make the call or send the email, and it gets complicated. That’s because you’re not simply hiring them, but trying to entice them, too. You want them to know you are easy to work with and that your event fits and can even enhance their reputations. It’s easy to take a misstep, and negotiating terms gets even more complicated.
This is where working with a trusted and reputable booking agency such as the SUCCESS Speakers Bureau makes event planning so much easier and stress-free. Such talent agencies will know the speaker’s interests, motivations and, of course, availability. On top of that, they will negotiate the booking terms to your advantage.
What should I do after booking my event speaker?
Once you’ve booked your speaker, the hard work is done. You can enjoy a deep breath. You might even consider a three-day weekend or a spa day to celebrate!
But you’re a perfectionist, too. You want your event to go exactly right, and there are still post-booking details to consider. Here is a quick list of preparations to make after booking your guest speaker.
1. Confirm logistics through your booking agency.
Details matter. Confirm date, time, location and accommodation requirements. Ensure that there are no errors. A simple typo may lead to your speaker showing up at the wrong date or time, missing a flight or having the wrong reservation. It’s not necessarily an error on your part, of course. Hotels, travel companies, car rental agencies—they all can and do make mistakes, so double-check and confirm at every step.
2. Share event details with materials you develop.
If you planned wisely, you likely booked your speaker at least three months in advance, and in some cases, up to a year. Things change in that time. Provide your speaker or booking agent with an updated overview of the event, including the agenda, the audience profile and your overall goals and objectives. Be clear about the speaker’s role and expectations for their presentation, including any specific topics or themes they should cover.
3. Coordinate technical requirements.
Whether booking a speaker for an in-person presentation or a virtual keynote address, technology is involved. We’ve all planned or attended enough events to know that technical problems often throw off the pacing and impact of even the most professional conferences. Confirm all technical and related necessities of your speaker including audio-visual equipment, microphones, Wi-Fi, accessibility considerations and the like. Your IT department will help greatly.
Follow up with your speakers post-event.
Lastly, don’t neglect the post-event opportunity to follow up with your speaker or speakers. Express gratitude. After all, these are passionate, committed people. Showing appreciation is not only the right thing to do, but it will help ensure your event was an overall positive experience for everyone. Professional speakers are a tight-knit community. Proper respect will help ensure they put out a good word for you and your company.
And while expressing gratitude, consider a few brief follow-up questions as you would with any client. Find out what they enjoyed most about the experience, and how you can improve the experience for your next speaker. This will help you ensure that you didn’t miss anything, and that your events will continually improve.