If you've been searching high and low for the perfect keynote speaker, you're not alone. It' may seem easy on the surface, but finding the right speaker for your event is incredibly important and can have a positive (or negative) effect on your organization for years -- and conferences -- to come.
Typically, vetting a keynote speaker involves meeting after meeting, talking to key stakeholders, the purse-string holders, and even the legal team. It's a hassle, but every planner knows that to have a great event, you need an amazing keynote speaker. From former presidents, to news anchors, to reality TV stars – even captains of the industry, it seems as if the options are endless for finding a great keynote speaker.
However, finding that perfect keynote is a daunting challenge. Will the presenter be a good public speaker? Will the audience identify with their message? Is it a big enough name to draw a crowd?
Keep these three tips in mind on your next search for the perfect keynote:
Will the person cover a timely topic?
There’s a lot in the news today, and a lot of this news can be extremely polarizing. To narrow the scope, there’s probably some major trending topics in your specific industry that you should focus on. However, what is newsworthy today may not be by the time your event rolls around.
It’s always a good idea to find a tried-and-true path for keynote content, rather than rushing into what is the most splashy topic. Staying with statesman, community/civic leaders, and business leaders always seems to cover both timely and relevant topics.
Utilizing a speaker bureau can help you narrow your search and put you in touch with the right people. They’re there to help you, but remember...
Get a big name...but only if you can afford it
Big names cost big bucks. However, having a celebrity keynote can help you drive attendance, engagement and sponsorship to your event – so it might be worth the investment.
Some of the biggest and best (like a former President of the United States or the co-founder of Apple), can cost more than you might think. These household names can draw a huge crowd of attendees, with their particular stories of success. And big names bring in big crowds.
If you’re getting a celebrity keynote, build in some time for an audience meet and greet. This is a chance to include not only an added perk for your top customers and sponsors, but enables you to add in engagement options with your attendees. Hosting a tagging contest on social media, or a raffle for a chance to attend the private meet and greet is a great way for your attendees to interact with your brand and event.
Have a backup plan
Flights get missed. Personal lives intervene. Or, perhaps worst of all, contract negotiations fall through.
Have a list of three or four backups you can go to, on the off-chance that your first choice doesn’t work out. Speakers bureaus are a great tool for doing research on potential keynote speakers. They can suggest alternatives that are around the same price range – just make sure not to tell your backup that they were the second (or third) choice.
Finding the right keynote can set the right tone for your event and help you attract more attendees. Best of luck in your search, and let us know if you have any interesting keynote stories!