By Tom Kenyon-Slaney
10 tips on how to vet a speaker
Over $1 billion is spent annually throughout the world to engage speakers and lecturers for all sorts
of meetings and special events. American
colleges and universities, for example,
spend $200 million a year on speakers.
Considering the level of investment involved, a speaker needs to make an impact
and stand out in the minds of attendees,
and become an important part of the value
that they take away from the event.
Fielding an inappropriate, ineffective
speaker can tarnish, even ruin the entire
effort. Here are some recommendations for
using a speaker’s bureau or directly engaging a speaker.
These initial tips will help determine exactly what it is you want to accomplish from
your event. You can then begin to decide
what type of speaker you might want to hire
to help you achieve your objectives.
1 Have clarity and agreement about the
objective of your event. Is there a specific
reason for the event, such as bringing together your executives for an annual sales
conference? Is it an employee training
conference? Is this supposed to cover issues
like human resources policies or ethics? Be
very specific about why the audience is being brought to the event and what you want
to achieve through staging it.
2 Be comprehensive about the demographic of attendees — their age range,
gender, position in an organization, income
range, their education level. Consider who
they may have heard speak at past confer-
ences and meetings. What was the outcome
of those experiences?
3 Articulate the challenges the audience
might be facing that the event aims to address.
4 What are the attendees’ expectations and
what do they want to get out of it?
5 Be specific about what you (the meeting
planner) think will best benefit the audience.
How do you want them to act, improve, or
conduct themselves differently after the event?
With this done, you can reach out to a reputable speaker bureau and provide them with
your thoroughly thought-out brief. The next
tips will help you get the most out of your
chosen speaker bureau:
6 Select a speaker bureau that is well-established and has direct relationships with
the kind of speakers who might be appropriate for your event.
7 Ask the speaker bureau to recommend
speakers for your event against your brief.
Ensure that their message is appropriate for
your audience, and that it is in keeping with
your organization’s philosophy.
8 Ask the bureau to share video clips of
the speaker, if possible, so you can see him/
her in action. You’ll want to be certain that
you hire someone who can deliver his or
her message in an interesting and entertaining manner.
9 Be open to ideas. The best speaker bureau can save you many hours of research as
they already know many of the speakers and
should know who is best at what they do for
any given situation.
P Don’t be afraid to ask. Speaker bureaus
are there to help you identify the ideal speaker for your event. They should be able to efficiently determine who is available, flushing
out issues like schedule conflicts and budget
requirements. They’ll work closely with you
in the run-up, during, and after the meeting,
and they should have many years of experience in the field.
Speakers and presenters can make or
break a successful meeting and often define
it. There’s increasing scrutiny of the cost
and time going into a meeting. Planners
are under pressure to have a rigorous, critical approach to their decisions on speaker
procurement. Following these rules will help
ensure you do just that. SM
Tom Kenyon-Slaney is founder and CEO of London
Speaker Bureau ( LondonSpeakerBureau.com), based in
London, with offices in New York, Paris, Dublin, Frankfurt,
Istanbul, Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, and Beijing.