Shana Bryant

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When thinking about how to make your event memorable, finding the right speaker is paramount. You want speakers who have the training and the experience to captivate a crowd. The keynote speaker should be someone who can make your event unforgettable and create a lasting impact on your attendees. How do you find a great speaker? Ask yourself the following questions:


What is my budget?

Most speakers generally prefer to get paid for their efforts. Paying your speaker means acknowledging their contributions to your event and showing respect for their time.


Good speakers can be costly, and that’s for a good reason. Most professional speakers have preferences – locations, days of the week- that affect their pricing. Consider their needs and weigh them against your budget and potential to increase revenue for your event. Choosing the right speaker can also help secure new supporters and donors. It is an expense that will pay off in the success of your event and the positive reflection on you.  


What is my event goal?

When thinking about your audience, this will help to dictate and narrow your list of potential speakers. Consider your organization’s mission, the strategic plan for your event, and the kind of people you want to attract to your event. You should even be thinking about what kind of donors you may be in the room. The qualifications of the speaker you choose should be in alignment with your event goals.   


Who do I know?

You built a professional network, use it! The planning committee, board, community stakeholders, and friends can all be used to help secure your keynote speaker. Additionally, your expanded network includes sites like LinkedIn. Reviewing the profiles of your connections is a great way to learn more about their professional areas of expertise and help to identify potential speakers for upcoming events.  


Draft a list of possible speakers, even names that seem far-fetched. I like to say here a “closed mouth does not get fed,” so it never hurts to ask. You never know who is willing to support your organization’s mission; it is not uncommon for potential partners to lower their fee because they believe in the work you do. 


Do they have a following?

Does your speaker have to be well-known for them to deliver a memorable speech? Yes, it is helpful to secure a speaker who already has a built-in audience and is well-known, but it’s not always necessary. If it is an organization that has regular supporters and is doing an annual event that people are excited to attend each year, choosing someone new to your audience is acceptable. 


Make it a point to watch videos of potential speakers at past events. Ask for clips, and get feedback from others who have seen them speak and deliver a speech that was memorable and impactful. For example, if your even goal is to share expert information, the speaker may be an expert in a particular field but not well-known to your audience. Your audience will still leave buzzing about the new information they learned at your event. 


The right message delivered by the right person will have attendees talking about your event for years to come. By utilizing the resources and connections you already have, you can find a speaker for the event that the organization and attendees approve of. Your goal is to choose someone who will be able to deliver their message cohesively, have positive energy, and bring excitement to your event. You should feel good about your selection.