Finding the Perfect Speaker for Your Special Event

Checklist & Tips for Booking a Keynote Speaker

You’re helping to plan the upcoming fundraiser luncheon, small business expo, or 50th wedding anniversary bash for your grandparents – and it’s up to you to find an engaging speaker that will captivate your audience, make them laugh, maybe both! No matter what type of special event is in the works, these steps and useful tips will help you find the perfect speaker to engage your crew and “get the party started.”

Finding a Speaker for Your Event

Define Your Event Goals 

Understanding the purpose or what you hope to achieve with your event will help narrow down potential speakers. Here are some good questions to get you started:

  • What is the theme or purpose of your event?
  • What is the end goal of having someone speak at the event? (Entertainment? Education? Inspiration?)
  • What topics would your audience like to hear about?

Identify Potential Speakers 

Any event that aims to inform, educate, motivate, inspire, or entertain its audience can potentially benefit from booking a speaker. The type of event you are throwing and who your target attendees are will guide your decisions when seeking out speakers. Start by asking yourself, “What and who are interesting and timely to my audience right now?” Pro Tip: If you don’t know, ask your audience – use social media to ask for input!

Business Event: Who is most relevant to the purpose of your biz event? Who championed the new product that will soon launch? Who is “hot” right now within your industry and can talk about the latest trends at the upcoming expo or professionals’ retreat?

Church Retreat: For faith-related events like weekend retreats, educational workshops, and youth events, religious leaders and scholars can talk about topics such as scripture, ethics, and morality. Missionaries can speak about their experiences in different parts of the world. Members of the congregation can share personal stories of faith, transformation, or overcoming adversity.

Family Reunion, Anniversary, or Milestone Birthday Bash: Reach out to that treasured family elder or hilarious college student relative and ask them to entertain with funny stories about the family. Pro Tip: Sites like Cameo let you order personalized videos from your favorite actors, athletes and musicians for a small fee.  

Kid-Friendly Festivity: For the upcoming community carnival, festival, or fair, feature speakers who offer a combo of entertainment and education – a kid-friendly speaker could be a comedian, an animal expert, a firefighter, a high school football or volleyball player, or a robotics coach.

Library, Book Fair or Book Club: Promote literacy and celebrate reading at your book fair, storytelling event, or social book club by inviting local authors, poets, or professional storytellers as speakers.

Non-Profit Event: To raise awareness and boost support for your cause, book speakers to share personal stories or offer insights into the issues you are working to address. If celebrities and local social media influencers support your cause, throw their names in the hat, too. 

School Community Event: Speakers for your college readiness event, campus open house, anti-bullying assembly, or graduation ceremony may include people from the school district (like a popular teacher), business leaders that actively support the school, and successful alumni or other professionals that can share knowledge, humor, and inspiring stories. 

Social and Cultural Event: Feature speakers who address topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, or who offer insights into the arts, history, or popular culture meaningful to the audience.

Wellness Retreat: Book educational speakers that are considered experts in their fields and can share insights and trends in topics relative to your retreat’s purpose, whether it’s spirituality, mindfulness, meditation, detox, personal growth, yoga, or something else.

If you don’t know someone personally to fill the speaker’s shoes, ask colleagues and friends for recommendations and search online for speakers in the area of expertise that’s relevant to your event. Look for speakers who have experience speaking at events similar to yours and have knowledge about the topics you’d like them to cover. Local media, colleges, and universities are often ripe with eager speakers. If your group has a budget, explore speakers bureau websites (like this one) and registries with listings of professional speakers for every occasion. 

Evaluate Your Speaker Options 

To figure out if a potential speaker is a good fit for your event, take a peek at their website and/or social profiles, watch videos of their speaking engagements, and review online comments and ratings from attendees. Gather as much information as possible to identify the best options. It’s always a good idea to gain more perspectives by running your speaker options by a few members of your group before booking them.  

Reach Out to Speakers 

Contact the speaker(s) you’re interested in booking to ask if they will participate. Be sure to provide all the details of your event – the date, time, location, intended audience, if this is a free or paid gig, etc. Also let the speaker know if there is a particular topic you’d like them to discuss and any other key information they will need to make a decision.

Negotiate Details With Interested Speakers 

Once you know who is interested in speaking at your event and available, it’s time to negotiate the details – be sure to discuss fees, travel arrangements, and if there are any other requirements they have.

Book Your Speaker(s) 

After an agreement has been made on all the details, confirm your booking with the speaker(s) and double check that you’ve provided all information needed to prepare for the event. Professional speakers will have contracts, so be sure to read all the details and check with your legal advisors if necessary. 

Finding the perfect speaker for your event doesn’t have to be complicated – tap into your resources and network, and seek out that special speaker who is certain to grab your attendees attention!

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