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Guest Blog: How To Choose The Perfect Keynote Speaker For Your Event And Audience

This month, we invited VBQ Speakers to share their extensive knowledge on how to choose a keynote speaker. Here is their advice on how best to choose a speaker for your next conference.


Choosing the right keynote speaker will go a long way in ensuring your event is a successful one.

Whilst the venue, activities, giveaways, and entertainment have a vital role to play in making the best impression on attendees, the speakers you choose will set the tone for the whole event, right from the opening address.

As an event planner, a good speaker can boost your reputation just as much as you can boost theirs. You want a keynote speaker who creates a buzz and can keep an audience engaged right up until the last word - so it’s important to choose the right one.

But how do you go about this?

Here are some tips to help you choose the perfect keynote speaker for your next event.

Planning and Preparation

Efficient planning is key for any part of an event and choosing an event speaker is no different. Great preparation for the perfect event speaker comes from having an understanding of exactly what you’re looking for.

More often than not, determining what sort of speaker is the right fit will depend on how much you know about your event and its audience. You’ll find there is a whole multitude of speakers who vary in style and play varied roles depending on the event in question. Ultimately, the keynote speaker has to be the right match for your specific needs, so it’s a good idea to think about who your audience will be.

For a corporate event, if the attendees are most likely to be clients, then having a “big name” speaker who is more widely recognised will help to draw a crowd. On the other hand, if your event is for employees, having a high-profile speaker is less important, and more focus should be given to the content.

Audience demographic plays into the decision-making process in much the same way. Think about the age group and the general interests of your event-goers. If they’re young professionals, then having a slightly more energetic speaker who is known for coming up with fresh, out-of-the-box ideas may be a better option than a more sedate individual.

This brings us to the importance of message. Bear in mind what sort of message you want your audience to take away from the session. How do you want them to feel? Inspired? Motivated? Entertained? Whatever it is, ensure the speaker’s message fits with your own expectations and with the tone of the rest of the event.

You’ll need to pay attention to the scheduling of the talks. Once this has been established, you can think more about what tone you need your speaker to hit. If it’s an opener or a closer, you may need a lively speaker to energise the audience, but if it’s a mid-program talk, an interactive session might be more useful. Making this choice simply comes from having a good understanding of your event’s specific requirements.

Make a good shortlist

Once you’ve done all the groundwork, you’ll have a good idea of what type of speaker you need. However, the question then becomes: where do you find them?

There are a few options here. You could think back on past experiences and look into any event speakers who were particularly impressive to you. Likewise, you could ask for referrals from personal connections; just ensure to be specific about your requirements, so the referee has an accurate idea of your expectations.

There’s an added benefit if the person giving the reference has either seen or worked with the speaker in the past. This means they can paint a picture of how it was to work with them and what their style was like.

An extensive speaker bureau, however, provides speaker recommendations based on your specific requirements, as well as your budget. It’s also possible for a bureau to advise on the formatting of the talks. This includes how much of the session should be a speech and how much should be an interactive Q&A; and, if certain speakers are better in a fireside chat format rather than a traditional speech.

Ultimately, a speaker bureau should help you get more out of your budget. This not only means providing the best speaker for you but also involves advising on where speakers could be asked to participate in additional elements of the event such as lunches/dinners or panel discussions.

Using these kinds of services quickly compiles a solid short-list, from which you can find your perfect keynote speaker. To help you narrow down the choice, most speakers are willing to have a short 10- to 15-minute scoping call before you commit to anything. Calling like this gives you the chance to get a feel for their style, tone, and personality, and see if they’re the right fit for your event.

Post-booking process

The post-booking process is also a key part of ensuring the keynote speech goes smoothly on the day.

Once your speaker has been confirmed give them a detailed brief on your audience, plus the key messages you want to convey. A briefing call around 2-3 weeks before the event should be enough time to allow the speaker to prepare, but not so far in advance that they forget the key points.

Likewise, iron out the logistics beforehand. For instance, ensure the speaker’s presentation works with your AV setup and that everything they'll need is ready and waiting. It’s also worth ensuring the speaker can get to the venue with plenty of time to spare. This allows them the time to set-up and rehearse, but also to get a feel for the venue space.

Whatever your requirements, ensure the speaker you choose is fully aware of your expectations. Allow them the time and resources to prepare in advance. Ultimately, if you’re organised and clear, you'll end up with the perfect keynote speaker for your event.

You can find out more about VBQ Speakers by clicking here. 

If you would like to speak to a member of the 8 Northumberland Avenue team about how we can help with all your conference needs, from venue to event management, email us today. 

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