How to pick the right keynote speaker

Nick Gold, MD of Speakers Corner has five things to think about when choosing someone to give a speech at your next big event.

Image credit: iStock
Image credit: iStock

Nick Gold is MD of Speakers Corner


1.     Know the aims of your event 

A common trend we see is clients giving us the name of an individual they would like to speak at their event. However, when we question exactly why they would like that person, or what the aims of the event are, often the said individual’s content does not marry up with the goals of the conference.

When considering an external speaker for your conference or event, it is best to start at the place of understanding what the objectives of the event are and then match the right person to this. Even if one of the aims is to secure the ‘draw name’, it is important to still consider what you want the attendees to achieve on the day of the actual event, so the speech will offer lasting value to the audience.

2.     Get the most out of your speaker

The schedule of the day has been set with the keynote speaker delivering a 45-minute speech, followed by a Q&A session. But, have you considered how you can extract maximum value from that speaker? Why not see if the speaker can join for a lunch or dinner with some key members of the company? This could offer an opportunity to further explore some of the ideas addressed in the keynote. 

It is worth seeing also if they are willing to do a book signing. This type of added extra really leaves a lasting memory with delegates, making your event that extra bit special. But, whatever your request is, make sure it is thought about up front and discussed as part of the initial agreement, so there are no surprises down the line.

3.     Build momentum 

For any event organiser, the build-up to the event is a critical aspect in both setting expectations and attracting attendees. Using the speaker’s expertise will help the event organiser to tease out content and ensure the event goals are achieved.

Be clear about what you are looking for from the speaker in the run-up to the event and understand that their role is not to endorse the brand, or necessarily promote the event, but to discuss their content.

They can, of course, share their excitement for joining the event through a teaser video or a few tweets for example, but again, these finer details will always need to be checked in advance.

4.     Provide the right environment for the speaker to give their best performance

Brief the speaker before their talk about your vision for the event, its structure, the attendees and content. But the actual performance on the day is the speakers’ own thoughts and words.

So, make sure the environment is right for the speaker to deliver. This will happen in a few different ways; it is helpful to ensure the logistics leading up to the event are as smooth as possible for everyone, that the staging and tech requirements are all in order and that the speaker is perfectly set up to deliver something truly memorable.

5.     The aftermath

The event or the conference should remain in the memory of everyone who attended and it should have a lasting impact that motivates and inspires the delegates. It should leave them with thoughts, feelings and ideas about what they can be doing differently, or better, to improve themselves and their company.

One of the critical aspects that will aid this is the message from the keynote speaker. How can we ensure the content is kept fresh in people’s minds? Think carefully about how to achieve proactive event follow-up, which will reinforce the messages of the day and make certain that impact is sustained.

Ensuring the aftermath is not restricted to just the ‘feel good’ momentum the attendees have as they leave the conference will focus the organiser as well as the keynote speaker to ensure they are delivering sustained value to every attendee.

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