Four Things To Ask Your Professional Speaker To Deliver

If you are a meeting planner, event manager or charged with organizing your company’s annual conference, you likely hire speakers to give keynotes.  Their fees can range from a few thousand to six figures, mostly depending on their celebrity or business profile. 

Since the last recession, speakers have had to fight for every piece of their business.  Events have tinkered with using free (friends of event) speakers or reducing the speaking slots to a single keynote. Today, it is clearly a buyer’s market.  So what are you getting for your $$$$?  Ideally, your outside speaker reinforces your event’s objective and moves the audience to action.  And often, that’s hard for a speaker to accomplish with a canned speech or even worse, a tailored speech that’s off-the-cuff. 

If I were you, here’s what I would expect from a speaker I’ve hired for my event: 

1. Interview Call — The speaker will do some research on the event, industry and organization and then host a conference call with meeting stakeholders.  This call is about defining the event’s objectives, the audience profile (from demographics to psychographics), the desired outcome and at a high level, and what the speaker’s talking points will be.  As Nick Morgan writes, “the only reason to give a speech is to change the world,” and you can’t do that as a speaker unless you know all of the above. 

2. The Keynote Outline — The speaker will submit a one or two page outline of the talk, including case studies naming companies or organizations involved.  This is important because some case studies may involve competitors to the event host or sponsors.  Whenever possible, the outline should include at least one or two industry relevant examples or takeaway points. (That’s real customization, BTW.)  You should socialize this outline to all the meeting stakeholders and not be timid about going back to the speaker for clarifications or modifications. 

3.  Meet and Greet — In most situations, there is a reception or dinner each night of an event.  This is a great opportunity for your speaker to meet his or her audience and deepend insights for the talk the next day.  If your speaker wins over a small portion of the crowd the night before,  odds are the next day will equal a total success. 

4. A Post-Event Deliverable — Often times, the deliverable may be an audio or video recording of his/her talk to be distributed to non-attendees. (Get permission first.) In my case, I’ve offered a custom book list for more reading on the topics I’ve covered.  And the book lists never include my works!  For my latest topic (The Social Opportunity), my audience receive a free copy of an eBook I’ve written on the subject which contains at least two industry relevant case studies.  In fact, I’ve gone a step further: I research the audience members if it is a customer conference, and when I can find a case study in the crowd, I interview them and include them in the book.  

I know this sounds like a lot to ask of a speaker, but if you get it, you’ll have an effective talk that generates long term value for your audience (and makes you look like a rock star!).  While some of my speaker friends think this is over-reaching, I’ve found that it’s a win/win approach.  The gigs I’ve worked the hardest on are usually the ones that produce the best results.  

NOTE: Requirements 2 and 3 don’t usually apply when you’ve hired a motivational speaker to share his or her inspirational story.  I would still expect any speaker I hired to be able to tie their story or experience to my event objectives, though.