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Five tips for choosing an outstanding keynote speaker for your event

Whatever the theme of your event, an expert keynote speaker can lend it unparalleled expertise, and so will be critical to its success. The right professional keynote speaker can inspire genuine, positive and lasting change, underline your conference or other meeting’s theme, and lend it increased credibility. While face-to-face events are rare at the time of writing, virtual events are very much alive and kicking, and increasingly drawing large numbers of delegates from across the globe. If anything, having a great speaker has become more important, at a time when you may need to work that little bit harder to create a successful occasion without anyone being physically present. Here are our top five questions to think through before booking your speaker:

1. Do they have previous online speaking experience?

Ask your prospective professional speaker about past on-screen engagements. Have they previously talked to camera? If so, where? Have they done any events or conferences which are similar to what you are organising? Viewing clips of prior events could be a significant help in reaching a decision. Ask them how they have pivoted to virtual speaking and what they have done differently to capture the audience's attention in an online setting. Make sure you pick a keynote speaker who can demonstrate multiple proofs of successful online keynotes.

2. Will they do a run-through before the day?

Ask your keynote speaker if they would be happy to do a live run-through before you hire them. This gives you time to request any changes and give feedback. It will also gives you the opportunity to change your mind if you are not happy, and gives the speaker time to make any necessary revisions. Ask to see visuals before the day, too; if you are hosting an event online, these are even more important than ever. At the same time, ask, before committing, whether the speaker is happy for their email address to be shared after the event with those who weren’t able to be there, either on social media, your website, or by email. This will give your audience a chance to connect with your keynote speaker after your event, to create meaningful connections.

3. What is your keynote speaker professional experience related to their topic?

How well does your keynote speaker really understand their topic, and how much personal, first-hand experience have they had of it? Of course, you will want to see a biography of any potential speaker’s professional background, but you also need to make a judgement on whether they can speak on with genuine authority. Have they worked extensively in this area? What has been their personal influence on it? Be mindful with keynote speakers whose professional background does not give them any real-life credibility regarding their topic because their message will not be as powerful as those who experienced first-hand situations related to their topic.

4. What credibility does your professional keynote speaker have?

It is not really enough simply to have worked in the subject area they are discussing. Is your potential keynote speaker the go-to person for that topic among journalists? What interviews have they given to the broadcast and print media? And can you access these to read or watch? Do they write opinion pieces in relevant publications? It’s also worth noting what they’re saying on social media, and how many followers they have. It’s about being an authority and having a strong profile in their field. Your ideal keynote speaker has delivered many press interviews, written countless articles and has a substantial follower base on social media that will help you promote your event to their audience.

5. What about your motivational speaker industry awards?

It is obviously a great sign if your chosen motivational speaker has either won or been nominated for relevant industry awards, so ask them about this. Equally, if they have sat on the judging panels for awards, it is a clear indication that they are respected and knowledgeable in their field. Check your keynote speaker awards industry and the organisation that gave them the award. Are they an authority in your own industry? Are they an established and recognised institution? External recognitions such as nominations or being part of a judging panel are social proofs that your keynote speaker is a credible authority and that they will bring credibility to your event.

Event planners and conference organisers have a big responsibility when selecting their speaker line-up. This is the first element that their audience will consider before deciding to join their event and this will reflect directly on the quality and success of their events and conferences. By asking the right questions, event planners can select amazing keynote speakers that will help them create an event to be remembered. Find out how Perrine Farque can help you create a memorable event here.

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