5 Rules to Getting the Perfect Speaker for Your Conference

Have you ever been to an event or conference where the speaker was mind-numbingly boring? And you were responsible for booking them?!

Here are 5 rules to help you get the perfect speaker.

RULE 1: Understand WHY we book a speaker

  • EMOTION: We book external speakers for our conference and events because we want the speaker to create the emotions and insights that ultimately cannot be created from elsewhere within your organisation.


  • COMMUNICATION: Your company obviously does communicate to its audience; they just do it in a different way. If your organisation could recreate that exact level of engagement, delivery of key messages, the same sense of connection, motivation, education or inspiration as an outstanding speaker – it would also do it itself.


  • UNIQUE PLATFORM: An excellent speaker uses their unique platform, their credibility and their skill as a powerful communicator, who is external to the organization, to create and transfer those desired emotions and key messages to the audience.


RULE 2: Truly KNOW your audience

Who is your audience? Your audience is not your boss. And it’s not your organizing committee.

To properly identify your whole audience and what it is they want, ask yourself three questions:

-What does the average person in my audience look like? (age, gender, job, where do they live, personal interests, ambitions)

-Who have they seen before? Who did they like? Who did the not like?

-What pain has the average person experienced in the business in the last 12 months? What keeps them awake at night?

If you can identify their pain, then you’re a step closer to addressing it. Question 3 is a big question and not always applicable, but it keeps us focused on the most important thing – to truly understand who the audience is.


Rule 3: Be in CONTROL of the process

This is probably the most important step – as almost everyone can have an opinion on who they think is and is not a great speaker.

Often when it comes to booking a speaker for your event or conference, the most challenging part can be influencing others – namely your management, the client, the organising committee, the other decision makers – and it can be extremely time consuming to just decide.

And then when the decision is finally made, that speaker is no longer available!

Keep your colleagues FOCUSED AND ON TRACK by asking these questions:

-What is the reason for bringing our audience together?

-Is there something you would like our audience to either think, know, feel or do differently as a result of this session?

-What challenges/opportunities are facing this group right now?

-What messages do you want a speaker to convey that address these issues?

-What does this group value most?


Rule 4: NOT the internet

For some people their first port of call in searching for a speaker is Google. Type in leadership speaker and job done. The problem with this is:

-Your search will return 1,000’s of results.

-Any speaker can claim to be Australia’s best, most in demand, dynamic speaker in cyberspace.

-You’ll never read a bad bio or testimonial.

A speaker or trainer can look amazing on the web, however, the risk is not only getting a speaker who does not perform on stage but also the risk of not getting the absolute best option available for what you’re spending.

‘’The problem with quotes found on the internet is that they are often not true’’ Abraham Lincoln

Like most professional services – you want to use a specialist (in my biased opinion!).

A personal recommendation from a Speaker’s Bureau Specialist that you trust will eliminate your risk and will help you make the right decision. They filter through the “noise” and recommend only the best for your brief – as opposed to a one size fits all approach.

Consultants who work with speakers as a career know the WHOLE market. They also can give real time information about a speaker, personal insight into what they are like to work with on and off the stage and provide support every step of the way.


Rule 5: Be a BRIEF beast

Finally, once you’ve chosen your speaker, you want to complete the process by making sure you get what you really want – which is clarity of message and audience engagement.

So become a BRIEF Beast.

Here’s a couple of steps to make sure get the best performance from your speaker:

-Organise a briefing call for at 2 weeks before the conference

-Before the briefing call, send your speaker a Briefing Pack or website link outlining the objective of the conference, the audience, the agenda and all the logistical information.

-On the briefing call – establish some rapport with the speaker – e.g. where are you calling from? How’s your week been? Too often we jump straight into the business end of the call. A little rapport building at the start can go a long way

-Say the speaker – ‘’the reason we booked you to speak at this conference is….’’

-Tell the speaker what you’d like the audience to know, think and feel.

-Tell the speaker the top 3 key takeaways you’d like the audience to leave with (if appropriate)

-You can also send the speaker any additional information you have on the market or industry you work in to give a clear overview of the daily challenges and goals of your audience.

I like to think that finding the perfect speaker for an event is half science (research the whole speaking market) and half and art (having a feel for who is going to be the best fit for a particular group). Hopefully the above will help you for that perfect fit.


About the Author:

Keith Harwood is the founder of Inspire Speakers. Keith has been representing and promoting the world’s best conference speakers since 1998. Keith spends almost all of his time working with speakers who have great stories with powerful lessons and can tell their story really really well. You can contact Keith anytime on 0450 077 997 or email keith@inspirespeakers.com.au