Inspirational Speakers: The Ultimate Guide

by | Apr 11, 2022 | Business Growth

Event managers want inspirational speakers that create that ‘Wow factor’ and leave a lasting impression on the audience.

This article shares what makes an inspirational speaker. It gives you examples of inspirational speakers and a synopsis of their inspiring stories. Feel free to read the whole article, or just skip to the section of most interest to you.

What makes an inspirational speaker?

Inspirational speakers are made of up several elements: For example, inspirational speakers:

  • Have life experience to share via stories – Inspirational speakers have great stories to tell about life events that others find inspiring. The stories they share will be encouraging, moving or exciting. Their stories have generally happened as a result of experiencing or achieving something great, impactful, coveted or rare. To achieve what they have achieved or to have endured what they have gone through they have likely shown courage, determination and mental resilience. Their stories are shared with the intent to highlight what can be achieved.
  • Know their topic – Inspirational speakers have usually invested years in developing and understanding their topic. They’ve gone deep, collecting data through studies and surveys. By going deep into their topic they have been able to draw higher distinctions about a topic that can be shared with an audience. They can also demonstrate this knowledge in a keynote, workshop or training in a way that immerses the audience in the topic. It is their depth of knowledge and the years of accumulated knowledge and experience that makes them inspirational speakers.
  • Are skilled communicators – It’s not just that inspirational speakers have stories, experiences and knowledge to share. Inspirational speakers also have the ability to deliver this information in easy-to-digest ways. This requires excellent communication skills. These skills include on-stage authority, pacing, humour, use of metaphors, congruent body language and demonstrations. They have perfected simplicity.

We believe that truly inspirational speakers display all three elements of experience, topic knowledge and communication skills. For example:

  • A speaker who offers just experience may provide inspirational stories. With little else to offer they meet the audience at a surface level and offer no lasting depth or impression
  • A speaker who has a deep working knowledge of their topic, but lacks the communication skills will offer brilliant content and insights, but it may be hard for the audience to grasp or use the information shared. What great communicators do is breakdown the complex into something simple and easy to understand and use.
  • A speaker who has life experience to share through stories and good communication skills will be seen as charismatic, but without a deeper topic knowledge their keynotes will still lack the kind of quality information and lasting impression an audience generally craves
  • A speaker who has depth of topic and communication skills, but who lacks the link that stories provide, is missing one of the critical ingredients in perfect keynote address – they fail to engage an audience’s emotions
  • A speaker who can tell stories while exploring their topic and do it with presence, warmth and authority delivers the deepest impact

How do you find an inspirational speaker?

From the information shared above, you may be starting to see that while most speakers have elements of being inspiring, not all speakers all truly inspirational speakers. Many speakers have one or two elements of being inspiring, but not all three elements. Without all three elements present a keynote speakers address will be like a cake without icing. It will lack something special.

However, let’s say you now have an event on the horizon and you have the task to find an inspiring speaker quickly. How do you go about finding them?
There are six possible ways you could search for your speaker:

1. Experiencing them yourself – This requires you to attend events to sample speakers who may be bookable in the future. In our research with event bookers, they told us that many of the speakers they book have been personally experienced.

2. Asking a speaker agency to help – Agents shortcut the legwork. They cut to the chase, get to requirements and are realistic about budgets. Agents are a great option when you want the assurance of a professional speaker and a professional service. They help you, source speakers, quickly and effectively and save you more than their fee! They are also highly likely to only represent speakers who tick all three boxes (stories, topic depth & communication skills). In our research with event bookers, most choose to work with an agent, either to book a speaker they have already experienced or to help them with their search for a speaker. Contact us if you want to use a speaker agent

3. Using Google – This is a time-consuming DIY option and the opposite of using an agent. Using this option, you have to scroll through websites and social media profiles and watch hours of video. It’s a good strategy if you have a small budget, all day to search and are willing to take a gamble on the speaker.

4. Getting referrals from your network – your peers and contacts may likely suggest a name you hadn’t thought about, didn’t know about or forgot about. It will shortcut option 3, in that you can focus your search to some extent on the ideas of your network.

5. Asking 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 3.

6. Asking 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 5, you may find yourself with a long list and still have to revert to the long-winded option 3.

In conclusion, if you enjoy going to events and experiencing speakers firsthand, this may be the preferred choice. However, if you have the budget, it makes sense to use an agent because they have the expertise, connections and knowledge to remove the grunt work for you!

Examples of Inspirational Speakers

A speaker that can truly inspire your audience will be a great storyteller, have in-depth knowledge of their specialist subject and be a skilled communicator. You will find speakers that has these three skills at a speaker agency.

Inspiring Speakers

Here are some inspirational speakers to whet your appetite:

Acting in the eye of the storm

Caspar Craven is known as The Adventurous Entrepreneur. Along with his wife, and three children (all under the age of 10), they left behind their normal life’s and set off on an unforgettable journey that would change their lives forever.

Circumnavigating the globe in a boat they met indigenous people, learned about other cultures and encounter endangered and rare species of animals. They also got to experience the full force and danger of being in the middle of the ocean, alone with dwindling supplies, a malfunctioning radio, a broken motor and no wind.

In Caspar’s keynotes, he talks about the principles that made it possible for him to develop & sell his business to help fund the trip. He shares inspirational stories of heading off disasters. Through his keynotes you’ll also discover the qualities of boldness, the logic of goal setting, team planning and the ability to act decisively in the eye of a storm.

Find out more about Caspar Craven here

Watch Caspar Craven here:

Wham-mania to Wellness

Today, Janey Lee Grace is known as The Wellness Publicist. But health and wellness weren’t always on top of her hit list…

As a singer with pop sensation Wham, Janey experienced hysteria on the scale of Beatlemania. They played in huge arenas, packed with thousands of screaming fans as they toured the world.

Years later, while with her first child she became interested in natural health. A publisher heard her talking about it on her regular slot on the popular Steve Wright radio show and asked her to write a book that would knock the Dan Brown phenomenon, The Da Vinci Code, off the top of the best-selling charts.

Today, in her keynotes Janey talks about imperfectly natural health, wellness, sobriety and supercharging your media relations.

Find out more about Janey Lee Grace here

Watch Janey’s Ted talk on wellness & sobriety here:

Opening The Doors To Bigger Things

As a child, shopping with his mum, Steve Sims was once told that the doors of affluent Bond Street, ‘Don’t open to people like us.’ Not one to back away from a challenge, Steve excels at opening doors today… doors that lead to big things and dreams coming true.

Steve wanted more from his life. Leaving the family businesses of bricklaying he talked his way into a job halfway across the world, but with no previous experience in that industry and was quickly found out, but what he learned, working the doors at clubs, while financing his way home, would become the catalyst to working with the world’s elite.

In his keynotes about the art of communication, the art of making things happen and ROI on relationships, Steve shares how he makes other people’s dreams come true by opening doors. Today, Steve’s connections include Sir Elton John, Elon Musk and Sir Richard Branson… to name a few. Not back for an ex-bricky from London.

Find out how to open more doors with Steve Sims here

Watch Steve Sims here:

What fees do inspirational speakers charge

Here is a general budget guide to the costs of a keynote speaker:

£500 – £1,500 speaker fee band – This kind of budget buys you a newbie or a speaker who can provide you with a light introduction or an overview of a topic. Speakers at this level will often be trying to break into the speaking circuit while developing depth in their topic and enhancing their stagecraft. They will likely not have all their assets professionally developed, so they may not have a showreel or video evidence or a professionally written bio. This level of speaker is best suited to a small gathering. They may also be perfect if you want to provide an introductory session to your team, before deciding to go deeper with someone more expert.

£1,500 – £5,000 speaker fee band – Speakers at this level are usually taking public speaking seriously and looking to make headway as a professional. Speaking won’t be their only income stream at this point. In this category, you will likely find industry professionals and non-celebrity speakers with an average amount of experience. It is likely at this level that the speaker is going deeper into their topic and asking critical questions and conducting some research to deepen their knowledge. The closer the speaker is to a £5,000 speaking fee the more likely you can expect a deeper more experiential keynote for your audience. A speaker at this level will suit a modest-sized event.

£5,000 – £10,000 speaker fee band – Once you invest in excess of £5,000 per keynote you can expect to be booking professional speakers. These speakers are accomplished and seasoned speakers who regularly speak as part of their profession. As with the previous fee band, you can expect these speakers to have quite a lot of depth to their subject. You can also expect to find sports figures and athletes in this price band. You will also find published authors and business professionals at this level too. When you book a speaker at this level you would expect them to deliver something that aligns and enables a vision to happen. These speakers will be comfortable with audiences of any size and can adapt their keynotes to a more conversational style for smaller gatherings, or manage many thousands.

£10,000 – £50,000 speaker fee band – Speakers at this level are well-known. They may be household names. You can expect these speakers to draw a crowd and add prestige and more value to an event just through their name. Whereas the previous category would get you an author, this category would get you a bona fide best-selling author, likely with a number of books behind them. You would book this type of speaker for a high-level/high-class event or a major corporate conference.

£50,000 – £100,000 speaker fee band – At this level, you enter the upper tier of speaking. When you book a speaker at this level you are booking A-list speakers, most likely of celebrity status. At the £100,000+ level, you are looking at famous politicians like former presidents, extraordinary business leaders or sporting icons. This category of speaker usually speaks at sponsored events or events that are held to honour someone or something.

As you can see the fees you can pay for a keynote speaker vary depending on the event, the audience and the needs of the person or organisation booking the speaker. If you are looking for change-maker speakers who can support your organisation through the changes happening in the world at this time, you should look at the bands between £1500 to £10,000. More expensive speakers will have more to share and likely have the ability to communicate the message better than the lower-priced speakers. However, there are some excellent speakers at the £5,000 level too.

As an agency we’re always happy to help you find the right keynote speaker. You can enquire about speakers using this form.

How to book an inspirational speaker

When it comes to booking 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…

Using a speaker agent alleviates these concerns by using a four-step process:

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 knows what to expect when.

Step 3 – Preparation and planning – We support your event management team with tech and event checklists so your event runs 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 the next steps and assess your ongoing training and development needs if you are open to our help.

What about some wow-factor extras the agent knows about?

Keep in mind, when you hire an inspirational speaker, you are engaging an expert in communication. Which can be very handy, pre-event…

One of the biggest challenges event managers tell us they face is getting ‘buy-in’ from the people the event is arranged for. But people actually need to be at the event to get the most benefit from the speaker.

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 a hunger to be at the event. This is done by building curiosity as well as sharing the benefits and some features of the event. Your marketing people can likely help you develop wording that will increase buy-in.

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:

  • Email
  • Podcast
  • Blog
  • 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. 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.

Getting the assurance of a contractual relationship

It makes sense to have a contractual agreement between the booker and the speaker. This helps everyone know who expects what and when. This means ambiguity and unnecessary disappointment can be avoided.

Knowing the agent has this handled makes the process of booking a speaker much more reassuring for the event manager booking speakers.

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.

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If your next conference is around the corner it’s time to book a consultation with Stellar Speakers.

Let us help you find the right keynote speaker to deliver timely messages, fresh themes and introduce the latest methodology and thinking.

Because our speakers are thought-leaders, industry expert and change-agents we help bring out the best in your organisation. Our passion is developing your people.

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