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Target and Choose the Best Professional Speaker


One of the most important entertainment elements to an event is selecting the best keynote speaker and other presenters for the agenda. If hiring an outside speaker, event planners may either contract directly with a professional speaker, or rely on the expertise of a speakers bureau.

Whether it’s an internal executive, industry leader or a professional speaker, a successful program will identify speakers early in the planning process.

Basic Steps to Speaker Selection

Diane Goodman, president of The Goodman Speakers Bureau, Inc., Windsor, CT, is a recognized industry leader for providing professional and nationally recognized speakers and entertainers to corporations and organizations. She has authored, Survive The Search: How To Target & Choose The Best Professional Speaker, a 12 page primer for meeting planners.

Goodman structured the guide as a checklist of helpful tips and questions that beginning and experienced planners should address internally, before reaching out to a hire or select a speaker.

First, advance planning is always helpful, and it’s easier to secure the best speakers by planning at least six to 12 months prior to the event. Of course, this isn’t always reasonable or realistic, and the main point is to address the question of who will serve as a speaker in the early planning stages.

Goodman advises the following steps:

  1. Determine meeting logistics/scheduling.
  2. Understand the audience.
  3. Capture the meeting objective
  4. Define the expectations of the speaker.
  5. Benchmark success.

Gaining Internal Sign-Off for Speakers

Because event planners serve as the internal and external face of the business meeting, this type of structured approach to speaker selection will help obtain the needed internal approvals for both budget and moving a program forward.

When planning a meeting, one of two scenarios happen:

  • Business meeting date is approved without content.
  • Business meeting date is not approved without confirmed content.

Goodman’s approach recommends that event planners should have a thorough understanding of the meeting, who will be attending, what messages are being communicated, what type of speaker is needed, and what has worked in the past.

This, combined with some scheduling flexibility and advance planning will result in a successful program. And these guidelines should be viewed as unique for each individual meeting.

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