Engaging Event Speakers: How to Book Keynotes That Will Wow

Every event planner wants to plan an event that is full of engaging sessions and unique event speakers. But how exactly do you do that?

The first step is to shift the way we look at event speakers. Most conference planning today isn’t about simply booking basic speakers. In fact, the days of a speaker simply standing on a stage lecturing through a series of slides are essentially over. Attendees expect someone who is passionate, personable, engaging, informed, and charismatic all at the same time. And if they can find ways to incorporate technology into their session, there’s not much more you can ask for.

To really wow your audience, you need to focus on finding a speaker that appeals to your attendee’s interests and is able to connect with the crowd from start to finish.

And how do you do that?

Here are some tips + tricks to get you started.

Search for speakers by industry:

When searching for engaging event speakers, you should take an industry-specific approach. A speaker who was a hit at a medical conference probably won’t be as well received at a conference filled with graphic designers. This is of course just an example, but you get the picture. Searching for speakers by industry greatly increases the chances that your speaker is not only an expert in the subject but also interested in the industry itself. Instead of just lecturing on a topic, they are able to tell a story—to speak candidly and authentically while still educating and informing their audience.

Speakerhub is a company that lets you search for speakers on a series of different topics and has nearly 5,500 speakers from the United States, Europe, Australia, and beyond. In fact, it’s used by event planners from 83 countries from around the world. You can even search for speakers from well-known and well-respected corporations and organizations like TEDx, Google, and more.

Start reaching out early and do an appropriate amount of research:

Keynote speakers are a huge part of the conference experience, so you should spend the time to really research who might be the best fit for your organization. Put the word out as early as possible and see who starts coming to you. No matter what industry you work in, the best keynote speakers are often booked out fairly far in advance. Reaching out to potential speakers in the beginning stages of your event planning process can greatly increase the chances of securing the best in the business.

Take the time to educate yourself on the most popular and sought-after speakers and what kinds of feedback they’ve received, both from the attendees and other event planners. Once you’ve done the research and set the date, you should start your search immediately. In fact, the sooner, the better.

Showcase what makes your event special and the benefits that come from speaking at it:

In addition to compensation, potential speakers also consider a variety of other things when deciding which conferences to speak at. Being able to clearly communicate the value of speaking at your event versus others is key to booking the right keynote.

Make sure you take a personalized approach to each speaker you reach out to and outline the benefits unique to them. If they’re an author, will your event provide access to an audience interested in the topic the book covers? Will they be able to grow their online presence and social media following? Do you record the session so they can use the video for their own marketing?

Your reach out should always include the following:

  • Information about the audience, including industry and approximate size
  • Attendee demographics, including job titles, where they come from, and what they’re interested in learning about
  • What your expectations are, including speech length, topics, and audience engagement
  • The perks: will your organization cover full travel expenses? How much are you offering for their time? Are you planning every aspect of the logistics?
  • What types of marketing you will be doing to ensure the session is a success and how it will help build their brand
  • Whether or not you will be collecting feedback and what you will do with that feedback if collecting it

We hope these tips and tricks will help you better understand how to book engaging event speakers. At the end of the day, it all comes down to knowing what your attendees are interested in and which speakers can best provide an engaging and energizing attendee experience. Search by industry, reach out early and show what sets your event apart. If you’re searching for other ways to engage your audience, speed networking is one of the fastest growing forms of networking in the world.