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Tips for scoring an amazing speaker at your next event

Tips for Scoring an Amazing Speaker at Your Next Event

Choose the right speaker and they’ll engage your members and guests in the ways you (and they) want. Choose the wrong one and they’ll spend more time playing Candy Crush on their phones than listening. But worse, one bad speaker could keep someone from attending future events, joining your chapter, or renewing their membership.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you search out speakers for your upcoming events.

The goals of your event. Be able to articulate them – and write them down. This way, you can share them with potential speakers and be more certain the person you choose will help you meet them.

The speaker’s time slot. Early morning keynote? Speaking before lunch or after? If you want to keep your attendees from sleeping in their chairs after lunch, you need a speaker with a great vibe and energy and tone of voice. The last speaker in a long day? This is an important slot and one that’s often overlooked. This person often needs to be the most flexible, to pull together closing thoughts and follow up and respond to things that have been said throughout the event.

Audience expectations. What do those in the room want from the person who will be speaking? Are they coming to your event to learn? To relax or laugh? Maybe this person doesn’t need to be a “big name,” and a lesser known individual could deliver exactly what they want to hear.

The ROI you expect. Most likely your return on investment won’t be quantifiable in terms of dollars, unless maybe you’re asking people to make donations as a result of what they heard. Would you like a certain number of people to ask questions, sign up for a class, or join a committee? Writing down the ROI and sharing it with the speaker can make it easier to reach. And, to better assess whether or not the speaker helped meet your ROI, ask questions in a survey to those who attended.

The speaker’s comfort with Q&A. No matter how effective of a speaker you choose, for some attendees, the best part of a session is the questions asked and answered. Be sure the speaker is ok with answering questions “off the cuff.” (Sometimes, a few scripted questions can help move things along and get those in the audience get comfortable asking.)

Your budget. If you find a speaker who will be a great fit, only to learn you can’t afford them, you’ll be disappointed, right? Know before you start looking how much you have to spend. And, when you learn a speaker’s price, clarify to be sure it includes incidentals, like transportation, hotels, and meals.

Recently, StarChapter went through this process to find the right speaker for one of our recent webinars. “I’d heard him speak at an AMA Baltimore event,” says Rebecca Chadwick, StarChapter’s Director of Sales & Marketing, about Stan Phelps. “After determining what we wanted from our next speaker and doing some research, we saw that his topics would be relevant to our chapters and their struggles. The feedback we’ve gotten since he spoke,” she adds, “let us know we’d made the right decision.”

Speakers can make or break an event, as cliché as that sounds. Determine just who will be the best fit for your next event, and your attendees will thank you in exactly the ways you wanted them to.


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