Hi! Below are some great ideas to help you pick the right speaker and drum up some extra budget if your event finances are tight.
How to Pick a Professional, Paid Speaker Who Doesn’t Suck
The screening process for hiring speakers is stressful! There are so many to choose from and picking a speaker from a website or list that’s specifically written for sizzle can often be a bait and switch.
If you don’t work with speaker bureaus or have the money to hire an outsourced speaker management company, there are several things that set professional, experienced speakers apart from new, part-time, hobby, or simply not-good speakers.
Things to consider:
- Videos – These can be easily manipulated to show only the good parts of a speech and not the overall dynamic of a speaker’s style and energy. Watch multiple videos both on their website, on YouTube, and on their social media. Request a full-length video too. The speaker should be interactive, funny, and high-energy. Every group wants that – EVERY group! They should also be in front of audiences similar to yours. You have a giant group of men and women in a 5000 person ballroom? The video should show them in that same type of venue with a similar audience. Delivering content in a hotel meeting room is much different than a big ballroom or convention hall.
- Social Media – Go check out their online presence. What kinds of content are they putting out and what does it showcase about them? How’s their style and personality? Is their message relevant to your audience? How much camera presence do they have? What articles and research have they done? Great speakers back up their content with solid, ongoing research and engaging social media. That’s free exposure – not stage time.
- Titles – These should have a magnetic quality that makes someone want to attend out of curiosity and need. They are choosing a session over networking at the bar so the titles should be amazingly engaging.
- Relevance – Does your group actually need someone to tell them to climb their own mountain or the lessons learned about leadership from being on a football field? Probably not. But do they need something fresh, new, actionable, and relevant to their role and industry? YES – every time. Don’t fall for the fluff or a faux-celebrity. Be sure you’re getting real content that is also engaging, interactive, and memorable.
- Customization – Are you getting a canned speech or do they customize it to your industry language and audience roles/needs? Ask the question.
- Style – Does the speaker use PowerPoint? If so ask to see it. You don’t want too many words and it should look professionally-created and not just a dry deck. If they don’t use PowerPoint what do they do to visually and vocally engage the crowd?
- Theme – Will they tie their topic to your theme? They should.
- Multi-Use – Can you use them for a keynote AND breakout or emcee or other things while they are already there?
- Ease – How diva or easy are they? You don’t need another pain-in-the-butt on top of your already overflowing to-do list. Be sure they are easy, fun, proactive, and have simple forms and ways of getting information. Everything you need should already be on their website – headshot, bio, introduction, title/descriptions, etc. They should have a simple contract/agreement. They should have a way to collect the basic logistics and needs for their planning purposes like a pre-event questionnaire. When in doubt – ask!
- Pre/During/Post Engagement – How will they welcome and engage with your audience before, during, and after your event? Pre-event video? Social media posts? Post-event article? On-stage audience fun? Post-event learning options? Ask them how they engage with your audience on AND off the stage.
If Your Finances are Tight
Skip that $3 logo notebook they already have 15 of in a drawer at home. No one needs another $1 pen. And that $5 portable charger is likely pretty junky and won’t work anyway. Ditch the chocolate fountain and extra unhealthy desserts. Save the cash on the colored tablecloth and napkins.
Funnel that saved money back into your education programming that your audience actually wants and PAY your speakers equitably.
Professional speakers are taking a night and full day or more away from their business and home life. They are creating awesome content for YOUR audience.
They are there for you. Be there for them too.
For REAL Though – We Don’t Have a Speaker Budget
I know this is a real issue. Click here for some easy and quick ways to drum up extra cash…
- Sponsors – in the research I’ve read they’d much rather pay for a speaker session and have that speaker talk them up from stage than provide a free pen for the swag bag or for their name on the lanyard. Work with your sponsors and speakers to create a win-win model that benefits them both.
- Up the Ticket Price – For conventions and association or industry events most of the tickets are paid for by attendees’ companies. Increase the price even just a little bit and use the extra for the speaker budget.
- Decrease Breakout Sessions – If you’re offering too many breakout options for every timeslot you’re creating audience decision paralysis. Reduce the breakouts to increase engagement. This reduces room rental costs, water/coffee service in the rooms, A/V in the breakout rooms, and if you do pay speakers you lower the number of overall speakers so you can increase the pay and quality of speakers.
- Use Speakers Multiple Ways – Use them for a keynote and breakout or two. Have them Emcee or facilitate a panel. If they are a wellness speaker have them lead a meditation, yoga, or energy session in the mornings. Have them be a “reporter on the streets” tweeting and creating online buzz from the floor. This way you can pay the speaker more money for just a little extra work when they’re already there anyway.
- Buy Books or Materials from the Speaker – Buy books or other materials for all the attendees and then have the speaker sign them at a premier sponsor’s booth. Books and materials can pull from a different line item in the budget. Plus this benefits the sponsor (and you can ask them for extra sponsorship dollars to cover the speaker) because people hit their booth AND the speaker has a place to hangout and not awkwardly stand solo by a table stuffed into an empty corner somewhere.
- Non-Conference Event Tickets and GOOD Swag – Does your industry have access to good swag like concert or sports tickets, gift cards, travel incentives, or other things that have actual value? See if a speaker is open to that kind of thing but don’t assume they will all want the same thing. I don’t have any interest in hockey tickets but I’d love NBA tickets or a gift card for a airline flight (not to and from the conference) or a restaurant or clothing store gift card. Think creatively about what your sponsors and attendee companies might be able to provide.
There ARE ways to find money in your budget if you think creatively and get rid of the things that really aren’t valuable to the AUDIENCE.
Speaker pay should be a TOP PRIORITY since it’s a TOP NEED your audience.