One of the most important elements in planning an event is the selection of a keynote speaker. Whether this speaker is internal (from the organisation holding the event), a professional speaker, or a big name from the relevant industry, planning should be started well in advance of the event, as the date, location and available budget for the event can all restrict the range of speakers that will be available.
Planning your event between six and twelve months in advance should ensure that your preferred speakers are still available, and will give you plenty of time to discuss the topic and tone of the keynote speech.
When the time, format and rough content of the event have been determined, it is time to think about the reasons for hiring a keynote speaker, and what their role will be at the event. Such speakers can have a variety of purposes: while some while be there solely to entertain the audience, others may be brought in to educate attendees about a specific industry or topic. Some are hired to motivate, while others are required for stories of their personal experiences in a certain area.
The time of day at which the event is held can also have a bearing on the tone of a speech, with after dinner speeches normally requiring a more informal, humorous approach, and those taking place at the start of a conference, for example, normally needing to be more formal and structured.
Once all of these elements have been finalised, it is time to search for a speaker. Again, the methods for selecting a speaker will depend very much on the event itself. Event organisers should consider which speakers have been successful at past events, and either approach these speakers once again or find similar people.
If you’re starting from a clean slate, there are agencies that can help you to find the perfect keynote speaker for your event. Start by looking at your existing connections and decide if any of them can be utilised first. Speak to colleagues, friends, clients and other contacts who may have hired keynote speakers in the past, or who may have connections that would be ideal for your event. Don’t forget to search through agencies as well. They will have the expertise needed to assist you in planning the details and are likely to have a number of big-name speakers on their books. Some of them can be expensive, adding extra fees on top of the speaker’s charge, but others will take a cut directly from the speaker meaning you’ll get all of their help at no extra cost.
Once a speaker has been hired, there are further details besides topic and tone that must be agreed. Payment terms must be decided upon – both for the speaking appointment itself, and for any travel expenses that may be incurred. If you are paying a large proportion of your event budget towards the keynote speaker, it may be worth considering choosing a venue that will ensure lower travel costs.
Other logistics such as accommodation, screens, projectors and audio must be finalised, and the room setup agreed to best accommodate the speaker’s requests. These elements are where the help of agency can be invaluable!
Finally, make sure you promote your keynote speaker as an integral part of the event. If you are relying on the speaker to draw in paying attendees, appointing a speaker early is vital to your success.
This article was written on behalf of Celebrity Speakers, the global speaker bureau.