Finding The Right Keynote Speaker For Your Event

Every corporate event planner is looking for ways to enhance the attendee experience for their event. Event planners thrive when they are known for producing events that keep users engaged and excited. Hiring a professional keynote speaker is one of the ways planners can accomplish this. 

If you are in the early stages of planning a corporate event and intend to hire a keynote speaker, we are sharing a few tips on finding the right keynote speaker for your event. 

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Finding The Right Keynote Speaker For Your Event

Before you begin to reach out to potential speakers, there are several things you should do to prepare for your search. Generally, it is important to set goals and expectations for your overall event before incorporating any other elements. Having a document that maps out the basic plans of your event will help you and your team to stay on task when you have to make tough decisions. For instance, if you have a budget with no wiggle room, you will immediately save time and effort when you search for the venue, food, and entertainment because you will have specific parameters set in place. Start with defining your aims and objectives. 

Define Your Aims

To make your corporate event a success, you must first define what success looks like for your event. You must be specific and define what success means for the executive members, attendees, and even the planner. When you have your initial planning meeting, ask these questions: 

  1. What is the purpose of your event?
  2. What is the end goal of the event?
  3. How should attendees feel when they leave the meeting? 
  4. What is the event budget?

In the past, we’ve shared why these questions are important, even if you’re planning an annual or regularly occurring event:

Some of these questions may seem unnecessary, especially if you plan an annual or recurring event; however, goals may shift slightly even with a regularly scheduled event. For example, a bi-annual Board of Directors meeting is usually a time for leaders and company partners to review and assess quarterly, bi-annual, or annual action items taken by the organization’s staff based on the last meeting. At times, staff members may need to use the meeting time to ask for more money for a new project, or they may have to report data and numbers that may not be as great as anticipated. In these instances, the goal of the meeting may not be as routine and concise as past meetings, and therefore, the goals and objectives of the meeting create a shift in focus and purpose.

Understand the Flow of Your Event

Understanding the flow of your meeting will help you to find the best keynote speaker. If your event is hosted over the span of 2-3 days, you will have several opportunities to present a keynote speaker. While most planners will aim to schedule the keynote speaker towards the end of the event, you may find that a keynote speaker will be great at the beginning of the event to get guests excited about the rest of the conference. You may also decide to hire one or more keynote speakers to fit these parameters. Think about your theme, venue space, and other presentations, and find a keynote speaker who can deliver where you need them.

Guest Expectations

A corporate event may not rival an all-night dance party, but guests do have expectations to be wowed when they take the time to attend a corporate event. Consider your audience and what they are looking for when they enter the venue. What is the company’s industry? What have guests experienced in the past at corporate events? These are questions to ask yourself or your planning team. 

You can also do a pre-event survey within the registration form and ask guests what they want to see, hear or feel during the event. 

What is Your Budget?

This is a big one – have you considered your budget and what is allotted for entertainment or a keynote speaker? It may be exciting to consider hiring Grant Cardone or Brene’ Brown to serve as the keynote speaker, but popular speakers can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000. Before you leap into writing your dream list of keynote speakers, consider your budget and research speakers who will fall within that price range. 

How to Choose a Keynote Speaker

In general, hiring a keynote speaker can be beneficial to your overall goals for the event. For starters, you can relieve leadership from having to deliver a keynote speech, especially if they are not keen or confident enough to do so. You can also enhance your event marketing strategy by having a powerful speaker or industry leader speak to your company goals and vision. Potential guests may be more inclined to attend if they have the opportunity to experience seeing a popular figure in the industry or overall business world.

Your keynote speaker should offer something unique and leave guests with an optimistic vision of themselves, the company, and the organization’s products or service offerings. Make sure the speaker is on the front lines of their subject matter, not just someone sharing recycled work. Consider the presentation style and personality that would work best for your audience, and be specific about what you want in a speaker and their presentation. Every motivational speaker won’t work for your event – you want a thought-leader to bring something new and relevant to your guests. 

Consider additional props and entertainment elements for your speaker

While a keynote speaker should be professional and experienced enough to hold their own on stage, you can add other elements to make their presentation even more memorable. Consider hiring vendors that can provide the proper lighting, sound, and staging for your event. 

In some cases, and with more popular speakers, they may have “riders” or staging requirements for their presentation anyway, so ask these questions early on to ensure you can allocate funding and resources for these requirements. 

Questions to Ask When You’re Searching for a Keynote Speaker

Now that you’ve done your research and have defined your event’s aims and objectives, it’s time to ask yourself some of the more challenging questions. 

What is the ROI of your keynote speaker? 

After spending the money to hire a keynote speaker, will you make a good return on your investment? You will only know this by scaling your event early on and creating metrics to tell you how many tickets you need to sell to cover costs. 

How Much Does a Keynote Speaker Make? shares that a general corporate event budget template should allow 15% of the budget to be spent on entertainment. As mentioned before, there is a wide range for pricing a keynote speaker, but if you do the math this way, just remember that you should not spend more than 15% of your budget on hiring a keynote speaker. 

Ask for speaker recommendations from other planners, leaders, and even guests, and start thinking about your keynote speakers early on in the planning process so you can secure a professional who will deliver. 

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