Very often, a keynote speaker will be the highlight of a conference, seminar or AGM. The opportunity to listen to an engaging presenter who is an expert in his or her field is something that will attract many delegates to your event and will guarantee their attendance. So, how do you know who to invite, and how to ensure they will definitely accept your booking?
The most important thing to start with when selecting your keynote speaker is to define what your audience wants or needs to get out of your event. Are they there to be informed? Challenged? Entertained? All three? Ascertain their level of knowledge too. No-one wants to be patronised at a conference, however pitching the intellectual level too high will also turn an audience off.
ALL IN THE DETAIL
Before extending an invitation to your preferred speaker(s), make sure you are completely clear on the arrangements for your event. Is the date decided and have you definitely confirmed the venue? Can your speaker get to the event easily enough, or will you have to provide a taxi? What will they have to wear, and how big will the audience be? These are all questions that they, or their agent, will want to know before considering your request.
Once this planning has been done, it’s time to look at your options for your keynote speaker. Take plenty of time on this stage and don’t be tempted to simply go for a big name for the sake of it. Research their CV, previous presenting experience and likely speech content. See if your shortlisted options have sample speeches that you can listen to online, or whether they have published any papers or books around the topic on which you wish them to speak.
Once you have narrowed down your search to one or two potential speakers, take the time to engage in a proper conversation with them. A professional speaker will be happy to discuss your event in detail and to help you as much as they can to create the perfect speaking experience for your delegates. They understand that your reputation will be affected by how they perform, as indeed will theirs. In return, make sure you keep them fully informed about the logistics, as well as any changes in timings, venue, audience demographics or numbers that crop up along the way.
GET IT AGREED
Make sure you agree in writing the services that your speaker will provide and what their fee will be. Most professional speakers will have a contract outlining these details that you will both sign. Make sure that any extra aspects, such as transport, accommodation, refreshments etc. are detailed in the contract and that both parties understand exactly what is expected of them.
SET THE STAGE
Finally, make your speaker as comfortable as you can by setting up the room so that they can be easily seen and heard, and providing the requested AV equipment, microphones, lecterns etc. Arrange audience seating so that the speaker takes centre stage, and don’t forget to ask your audience for feedback after the event so that you know whether to book your keynote speaker again next year or choose someone else.