4 Surefire Tips to Line Up Speakers

Hiring a professional speaker for your event can be tricky—but not impossible.

Sweating the booking of a keynote speaker is a time-honored meeting planning tradition. These are rarely singular pieces of the event, however. Beyond the keynote, meeting professionals rely on speakers also to sit on panels, facilitate breakout sessions and lead workshops.

The 2013 Speaker Report weaves together survey data from meeting professionals across a wide range of organizations, varying in size, budget, geographic focus and industry.

The survey found that 85 percent of respondents hire professional speakers for their events. 

If you’re part of the 85 percent—listen up!

Keynote Must-Dos

The report found that organizations use professional speakers more and are spending more than they did in 2011. In 2013, the average number of professional speakers used per year was 14.6, up from 11.2 in 2011. And in 2011, only 45.7 percent of respondents had an annual speaker budget greater than $30,000, compared to 53.5 percent last year. Given that, here are some ground rules to help make your speaker budget pay handsome dividends.

  • Don’t focus solely on big names. Only 28.3 percent of respondents believe a “big name” is very or extremely important in attracting meeting attendees.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to book a speaker. Nearly 58 percent of organizations secure a professional speaker six to nine months before the event.
  • Focus on speakers who are willing to promote and participate in the event. Nearly 60 percent of respondents requested their speakers do more than just a face-to-face presentation. Typical nonspeaking requests include writing blog posts for the organization’s website, participating in social conversations and attending other elements of the meeting.
  • Rely on the organization for speaker suggestions. Because senior management frequently will make the final decision on the professional speaker hired, it’s an opportunity to tap into their business connections and ensure a speaker list that’s sure to please.