What Is the Best Way to Source Keynote Speakers?

by Leah Doyle | February 14, 2017


When people attend a conference or other major event, they often rate the quality of the keynote speaker as one of the top things that determines how good – or how bad – their experience was. Here are some of the best practices for ensuring you find a great speaker who captures your attendees’ interest and imaginations.

Generate a List of Speaker Candidates

Begin your search for a keynote speaker by generating a list of potential candidates and looking into their experience and background. There are many different sources that can help you come up with a list of names. 

  • LinkedIn. The social media mecca for professionals, it’s likely that by searching through your LinkedIn contacts you will come up with some names of potential speakers. Because the site also allows you to check profiles and read up on people’s professional background, it can be a great place to do some initial research on people you might be considering as a keynote speaker.
  • Check in with leadership. Senior executives in your organization may have some thoughts on who they would like to see speak at the event. Gather names from them to get an idea of the direction in which you should take your search.
  • Work with your bureau partner. Your speakers bureau partner can be a great resource for compiling a list of candidates. You can communicate your budget, event objectives, session needs, etc. and then let them take it from there. This is their specialty; they have read all of the current business books, are up to date on trending topics, and know the details of speakers’ offerings and topics. They can be a consultant and matchmaker when coming up with potential keynote speakers.

Do Your Research

Once you have a list of potential speakers, it’s time to start doing some research. Since keynote speaker fees can range from $5,000 to over $25,000 (and even more for true celebrities), you want to do your research to make sure you’ll get the best return on investment from the keynote speaker you select.

Look at speakers’ websites and social media accounts – check to see whether their personal brand aligns with your vision and goals for the event. Make note of their fees – you should rule out anyone who’s out of your budget before you get too excited about him or her.

You also want to make certain you get to see how potential speakers actually present. Someone can look good on paper but fail to engage his or her audience in person. Check out videos of the speaker’s previous presentations to get an idea of how well he or she presents and inspires the audience.

Make Sure Your Speaker Is Prepared

The best speakers know how valuable preparation and research are in their speaking engagements. You want someone who knows his or her stuff, but who is willing to take the time to tailor his or her message to the theme, goals, and audience at your specific event. A really great keynote speaker can take his or her standard message and customize it in a genuine and inspiring way for each individual audience. As you interview potential speaker candidates, ask about how they take on this task.

Topics: Drive & Optimize

Written by Leah Doyle

Leah originally joined SpeakInc in 2006 and currently serves as their Digital Marketer and Analyst. Originally from Southern California, Leah is a graduate of San Diego State University. She currently lives in Jacksonville, FL with her husband, John, and their two children. If she's not taxiing her kids to the ball fields, you can find her at the beach or a local coffee shop!
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