Get Rave Reviews by Hiring the Right Speaker

Summary: In this environment it’s often difficult for your members to find the time and the money to attend events. You need to make a compelling case for them to attend, and then wow them. The major drawing cards are your keynoters and session speakers. You need to ensure that your budget is being used effectively and that your delegates are receiving demonstrable value for their investment. Cathleen Fillmore of Speakers Gold, a speakers bureau, has 10 Questions that you should ask of prospective speakers:

There's a lot riding on the shoulders of speakers at conferences or meetings; they can single-handedly make or break the event that you’ve put so much work into. If you've ever hired a big name and paid big bucks only to be disappointed with the delivery and content....well, you're not alone.

One meeting planner talked about hiring a speaker (who was paid $500,000) to lead a series of meetings across Canada on behalf of a financial services company. He emailed her his itinerary a day before which showed he'd be arriving late for his speech kicking off the entire event and she had to re-arrange the whole day's schedule.

When you do hire a celebrity, ensure that he or she is also an excellent speaker who can not only draw in a crowd but also deliver on the promise with a message of substance and also inspiration. Speakers need to educate, entertain and inspire all at the same time. It's quite a hat trick and when it's done well, it's absolutely unforgettable.

I've heard speakers who completely turn my perception of the world upside down and give me a glimpse at the world I thought I knew through a completely different filter. I've heard speakers who were so powerful that I've had to hold back my laughter or my tears – I was at risk for really losing it. I've heard others so inspiring that I'd sign my life away in a minute if they asked me to. I've been so lucky; I've heard the best and they are awe-inspiring.

Once you've clearly determined what your association's objectives are, along with what your attendees are looking for, it's time to ask the deep questions such as:

  1. These are our objectives. How can you help us reach them?
  2. Can you give us examples of how you have done this at other engagements?
  3. How do you plan to customize your speech for our audience?
  4. Are you listed with any bureaus?
  5. What the three takeaways audiences will leave with?
  6. Do you have a video we can watch and promo materials we can review?
  7. What kind of audience is the most natural fit for your message?
  8. How long is your typical speech?
  9. What's your fee? What does that include?
  10. Will there be any extra expenses?

As a bureau owner, of course I'm biased but it's undeniable that the benefits of booking a speaker through a bureau is that we have a good sense of just which speaker would be the right fit for your group and your objectives. After all, our business depends on our making the right recommendation so that we'll have you as a repeat customer.

We know who the players are; who looks good on paper and who can really knock it out of the park. We do our part to ensure that you get rave reviews – every time.

Cathleen Fillmore