Hiring a speaker: The Ultimate Guide
This article is an ultimate guide to hiring a speaker for your event. You can read the article in its entirety or you can click the sections below and go straight to the sections that grab your attention.
- The success criteria for hiring a speaker
- Do you really need to hire a speaker?
- If you need a speaker, here are 5 ways to hire them…
- How to choose your speaker
- What does a keynote speaker need to know about your audience?
- What kind of budget is required for different types of speakers?
- This is the hiring process when you book a speaker through an agency
- Getting the assurance of a contractual relationship
- And what about some wow-factor extras the agent knows about
The success criteria for booking a speaker
When it comes to hiring a speaker for your event, success may look this:
- Source your keynote speaker quickly and easily
- Ensure they will be entertaining, motivational and inspiring and can deliver on the event theme and outcomes
- Stay within your budget
- Nail the contracts
Of course, the nightmare scenario every event manager wants to avoid is booking the wrong speaker – someone who lacks the relevant knowledge, offers little charisma or depth, and go through a long-drawn-out process to book them…
This guide is going to help you skip the nightmare scenario and hit your success criteria.
Do you really need to hire a speaker?
This is a strange question for a speaker agency to suggest you ask, but stick with us a moment, because we’d like to make sure you get your needs met, rather than try to make you meet ours! As an agency, we may be unique in this!
The answer to the above question may come down to what you are trying to achieve at your event, but you also need to consider other factors, such as staff attitudes, and knowledge. Let us explain…
1.Staff attitudes and knowledge – If you have the expertise in your team why not use it, rather than hire in a keynote speaker? In some cases, the CEO or other senior leader may offer to speak. In some cases, this will work, but in others it won’t. For a moment just think back to when you were a teenager and your mum or dad (or teacher) told you what to do…
A little flashback to childhood reminds a lot of people that as kids they we’re rebels and would often ignore their seniors whenever possible. Meanwhile, some people just didn’t see their parents as credible in the moment. In other cases, we may just have been plain forgetful, possibly because we didn’t engage with what was being said or how it was said. What this demonstrates is that when our seniors take centre stage, a lot of people have an immediate impulse to ignore the message. But what happens when that trusted uncle, family friend or peer says the same thing?
Bingo! Suddenly the advice was taken and things changed. That’s when hiring a speaker in from the outside really pays off.
2.The audience knowledge – When it comes to audience knowledge, it’s important to understand where the audience is with their knowledge and where the company wants the organisation to get to. Then you can question if you actually have the in-house knowledge in sufficient depth to engage your employees and get them to that place.
What we are saying here is: if a senior leader has the knowledge, credibility and buy-in from the audience; and if they can deliver it in an engaging, entertaining, motivating and inspirational way… and if they happen to be a thought-leader in your market, then you may not need to hire a speaker from outside your organisation.
If the senior leader you are considering does not have these skills, you should consider hiring a speaker from outside the company… 100%.
If you need to hire a speaker, this is how you hire them…
As an event manager, when it comes to hiring a speaker, there are 5 options. You could pick one option or a couple. The budget you are utilising will have an impact on your choice. Check out the list below for more details:
1.Ask a speaker agency to help https://stellarspeakers.com/ – Using an agents will shortcut your legwork. Agents cut to the chase and get to the requirements. Agents are a great option when you want the assurance of a professional speaker and a professional service. They get the job done quickly and effectively and save you more than their fee! Agents are also realistic about budget and will tell you when you are dreaming and put sensible options in front of you.
2.Use Google – This is a DIY option and almost the exact opposite of using an agent. Here you scroll through websites and social media profiles and you watch hours of video. It’s a great strategy if you have all day, or have a small budget and are prepared to take a gamble on a speaker that’s not yet proven good enough to find representation.
3.Get referrals from your network – your peers and contacts may likely suggest a name you hadn’t through about, didn’t know about or forgot about. It will shortcut option 2, in that you can focus your search to the ideas your network gives you… but be prepared to go on a few wild-goose chases!
4.Ask in a group – If you are in a social media group that has an events focus, then ask the group who they would recommend. Occasionally this strategy will come up trumps, but expect a deluge of ideas and pitches and be prepared to do the research on each speaker, as in option 2!
5.Ask your audience – Email or ask your audience who they would like to see at the next event. This may give you suggestions, but again, like option 4, you may find yourself with a long list and still have to revert to the long-winded option 2.
If you are investing £5000 or more on your speaker, use a speaker agency to help you hire a speaker. They will save you time and money searching for the speaker. It may seem like bias advice coming from a speaker agent, but in all honesty, if you can get find a professional speaker in under 60 seconds using options 2-5, you are an outstanding individual and we’d like you to come and work for us!
If you have no budget or a limited budget, use options 2-5. You may also send an enquiry via our website, https://stellarspeakers.com/enquire because we have a training programme for up-and-coming speakers called, Rising Stars (great speakers but less well-known… with the added benefit of lower fees).
How to choose your speaker
If you are new to hiring speakers for your company and you are not sure what a keynote speaker is, this article Finding the right key note speakers for your event is the ultimate guide you are looking for. But hiring a speaker is only part of the process…
Hiring a speaker is not necessarily the first stage of the process. In our guide 3 Secrets of Successful Event Creation we encourage you to back it up a bit from the process of hiring a speaker first, so you can go deeper and create a genuine event wow factor. It requires digging in to the event purpose. Let us explain…
When an event has a clear and sharply defined purpose, it’s a different event and people find they are immediately drawn to it. Think about it for a moment. You are putting on an event. You think you are putting it on as a way to get people together and feel something, but that something isn’t defined and is left open. Now contrast that scenario, with this scenario…
Imagine an event where the event is centered on a theme of ‘belonging’. Now we can explore sub-themes like inclusion, diversity, equality, understanding individual struggles like mental health right through to menopause and belonging on our planet. You can now explore those sub-themes and begin to make your event different and unique and build a purpose around it. But that’s not all…
When you know the event theme, you can then begin to build around that theme which leads us on to the next big consideration before hiring a speaker…
What venue speaks volumes on this event theme?
When you overlook the purpose, you can’t help but overlook the venue and when you do that you are likely to seek out a venue based on price and facilities, rather than a venue that brings the event to life and ensures your audiences show up as the best version of themselves and eager to absorb information.
When you do know the purpose, you can begin to search for event that matches that purpose.
Imagine you have an excellent purpose for your event, and you now have a venue that speaks to that purpose… now add a top-class speaker and try to stop people from attending!
And if you can achieve the optimum level of enthusiasm to be there, imagine how open the audience will be to learning and growing, and imagine how they will feel about your organisation…
- Will your audience feel good about you?
- Will they feel you cared about them more?
- Will they feel like they have learnt something and grown
- Will they tell their friends and family about the day or about the organisation?
- Will they be more loyal and stay with the company through a rough patch?
- Will they now be more productive and engaged in their work?
- Will they have a greater desire of drive to do their work better, so as to increase profitability?
- Are you starting to see the power of hiring a speaker and the power of taking events seriously?
If you want to really open your mind about event creation download 3 Secrets of Successful Event Creation
What does a keynote speaker need to know about your audience?
The professional speaker you hire will want to know about the event audience. They want to know about the people attending so they can get a better understanding of your organisation. With that understanding they can tailor their keynote and meet the audience where they are at, which ensures better connection, understanding and learning.
There are a number of things the keynote speaking will want to know, including:
- The key message, goals and objectives from the event
- Company values
- The company mission
- The positions/ ranks/ levels of the people attending
- The audience’s knowledge of this topic prior to the event, and any recent or prior learnings on the topic
- Challenges the company is facing and any contentious and sensitive issues that should be avoided… or brought to the forefront
What kind of budget is required for different types of speakers?
A keynote speakers’ fees will vary depending on several factors.
You would expect to pay more for a celebrity, a renowned industry expert or a professional speaker with a vast amount of subject matter knowledge on an in-demand topic.
Speakers who bring an experiential keynote or help facilitate a transformation will also command a bigger fee.
Meanwhile, a speaker who isn’t well known, or who meets the audience at a superficial level, sharing their truth and stories with a dusting of inspiration will charge lower fees, but understand the audience may not always be as inspired or motivated by this level of speaker. What we are saying is don’t compromise on your speaker… choose carefully and wisely when it comes to the audience experience and budget.
This is the hiring process when you book a speaker through an agency
You would use a speaker agency to make the process of hiring a speaker super easy. Here are steps to booking a speaker
Step 1 – Identify your event outcome – we covered this in the section above. All events need clear outcomes to ensure you get the best ROI from your speaker.
Step 2 – Meet your match – When you know the purpose of the event and the outcomes you are looking for, we’ll help you find a match. First, we’ll likely make a few suggestions and explore them with you. This usually takes just a few minutes or a couple of emails. From there, we can narrow it down to your preferred choice and arrange for you to meet and brief the speaker. That meeting will also involve the speaker suggesting creative ideas about how to deliver a message to your audience as well as helping them to understand the values, culture and style of the organisation. We can also discuss what else the speaker can do for you that you may not have thought was possible.
From here we’ll put together the contractual agreement, so everyone know what to expect when.
Step 3 – Preparation and planning – We support your event management team with tech and event checklists so your event run smoothly. If you need any help with finding a venue, an event production company, videography or photography, we can introduce you to our preferred partners.
Step 4 – Impact Evaluation – After the event feedback and evaluation is essential. We are happy to explore this with you before you report this back up the chain in your company, so you are well prepared. But we also value feedback on our speakers, as do they on their performance. We are also available to discuss next steps and assess your ongoing training and development needs, if you are open to our help. And we don’t charge you extra for this!!
Questions that can be asked during the evaluation include:
- What was the biggest win from the event?
- What was your biggest take-away from the event as an event organiser?
- What was the most valuable/ memorable piece of information learned by the audience from the keynote presentation?
- How will this information be used and embedded into the organisation to create long-lasting value, impact and ROI?
- Do you feel the speaker kept to time and topic well?
- If you could improve one aspect of the speaker’s performance, what would you suggest?
Getting the assurance of a contractual relationship
It makes sense to have a contractual agreement between the booker and the speaker, so everyone knows what is expected. This helps avoid ambiguity and therefore disappointment.
Speakers in the lower fee band and many speakers who are not represented by an agent do not have contractual agreements drawn up. This means, as a booker the obligation of contractual agreement falls on your shoulders. However, when you book through an agency, the speaker agent will have a standard, templated agreement they use. As an agency we take this responsibility from all parties and sending the booker a copy of everything agreed and the terms of the booking. We also send the speaker all the information they need about the event.
What about some wow-factor extras the agent knows about?
Keep in mind, when you hire a professional speaker, you are engaging an expert in communication. Which can be very handy, pre-event…
People actually need to be at the event to get the most benefit from the speaker. But one of the biggest challenges event managers tell us they face is getting ‘buy-in’ from the people the event is arranged for.
The ‘buy-in’ problem surfaces because people may prioritise projects and other deadlines over attendance, because they don’t see the deeper values or meaning of attendance.
As an agency we supply you with information you can use in the build up to the event, such as the hired speaker’s bio and the overview agree, but sometimes marketing an event requires more…
The key to drawing people in, is to create hunger to be at the event. This is done by building curiosity as well as sharing benefits and some features of the event. Your marketing people can likely help you develop wording that will increase buy-in. You can read more about building a buzz for your event here.
Keep in mind the speaker is a key influencer in driving buy-in and you can utilise their communication skills to influence attendance. Use the speaker when you deploy the tools at your disposal to promote attendance. These tools include:
- Internal boards
*Communicate additional promotional needs to the agent prior to contract agreement, so the agent and speaker are clear on what is required.
Once people are in attendance at the event the speaker you have hired can work their magic, entertaining, engaging, inspiring and motivating, all while delivering a key message to the audience. But what else can you get when hiring a speaker for your event?
While many keynote speakers will turn up, deliver and leave, the speakers we represent at Stellar Speakers can do much more…
If you imagine, when you are hiring a speaker, you are not just hiring a master of communication, you are hiring someone who is likely a deep well of experience and knowledge. At Stellar Speakers all our speakers are trained to go deeper when required.
All our Stellar Speakers have a framework of keynote talks, workshops and trainings they can unpack. This means they can drive a message, learning or methodology deep into an organisation. An this means they can provide deep and long-lasting effect, impact and change.
Think about it, you’ve taken your time in hiring this speaker… you did your research using an agent or using one of the 5 steps earlier in this guide. You had a briefing session with the speaker, who took the time to understand the company culture, values and needs. They then invested days developing a bespoke keynote for your event, which now means they have a good, objective view of your organisation. This creates an additional opportunity for the organisation…
The opportunity is for the organisation to continue to work with the speaker. This could mean the speaker continuing to drive their methodology deeper, but it could also be with the speaker working as an advocate or influencer with the company.
It’s a golden opportunity missed by many organisations, who, just want to have a big-name celebrity, motivational speaker, who can give an entertaining talk, but offer nothing of depth beyond anecdotes and stories. The opportunity then, is to take the investment made in the keynote speaker and go one step further, getting more value from the relationship already developed and creating a longer and deeper impact.
When it comes to hiring a speaker, you will want to make it quick and easy for yourself. To help you use this checklist:
- Decide on your success criteria for hiring a speaker
- Decide if you really need to hire an outside speaker
- If you need to a speaker and your budget is £5000+ use a speaker agency to hire your speaker. If your budget is below £5,000 use our enquiry form because we have a group of Rising Stars who may be right for your event.
- Choose the right speaker for your event
- Prepare to share details about the type of people attending the event with your keynote speaker
- Understand the different budget requirements for different speakers
- Get the assurance of contracts
- Discuss the ‘wow-factor’ extras with the agent to ensure the event has the desired lasting impact
We believe all keynote speakers should be Stellar Speakers – able to entertain, connect with an audience and make a positive impact. As a unique speaker agency representing change-making keynote speakers, we provide expertise to help you manage your budgetary expectations and provide realistic options. We provide a preferred partner’s service base, so that partner clients get everything they need, lowering your risk as a booker of speakers, so you can make your choice about your next speaker with confidence.