Why Hire a Professional Speaker?
1. Establish the date, time and budget.
All three are key before you can even begin to seek the correct professional speaker. Many book a year in advance so the sooner you start, the more likely you are to land your first choice.
2. Identify the situation.
Do you need a keynoter, breakout leader, trainer or facilitator? Are you looking for a breakfast, luncheon or dinner speaker? Do you want a motivational or inspirational speaker, a humorist, an author, a certified trainer or coach? Do you want someone to inform, entertain, persuade or a combination thereof?
3. Determine your topics.
Do you have a central theme? Do you want your topics to tie into that theme? Do you want to impart knowledge at different levels (beginners, advanced) or to different segments of your audience (Realtors, mortgage lenders)? Answers to these questions will help guide your choice of presenters.
4. Locate resources.
Word-of-mouth referrals are an excellent source as are pre-qualified professional speakers like NSA-IL members. Search our database by topic to coincide with your answers to question 3 or by name if you already have heard of the speaker.
5. Interview candidates.
While an email may be your first point of contact, we strongly recommend you spend time on the telephone for mutual benefit.
- Become a partner in the process with a professional speaker. S/he will ask the needs of your audience and share how s/he can fulfill those requirements.
- Assure yourself that a potential speaker has addressed groups similar to yours. Have her/him share experiences.
- Find a speaker who will tailor and customize her/his presentation to your group.
- Ask the speaker if s/he belongs to professional associations. Also ask what awards or certifications s/he has earned. The National Speakers Association, for example, awards a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation for extended speaking experience and client satisfaction.
6. Request a proposal and references.
- Ask the potential speaker to complete your request for proposal (RFP) so you can review her/his credentials and share with others involved in the decision-making process.
- Seek references and also find out if s/he is speaking in your area and whether you can attend.
- Request a website address and a video clip.
7. Select your speaker.
- Hire a professional, and you’ll hire an ally. Professional speakers understand that your reputation is riding on their performance. Their experience with hundreds of audiences will add to your peace of mind and to the event’s success.
- When selecting your speaker, consider that you are not only paying for the time the speaker is on the platform but also for the hours spent researching, preparing and customizing the presentation. Some speakers may negotiate their fees when they are doing more than one program for you or when they are allowed to sell their products. Ask about your options.
8. Get it in writing.
Prepare and get both of your signatures on a letter of agreement or contract that clearly outlines expectations. Keep in mind:
- Travel expenses, accommodations and meals;
- Fees, reimbursements and payment terms;
- Whether you want the speaker to attend social events;
- If the speaker may sell products and how this will be handled;
- Permission to audio- or videotape the presentation;
- Cancellation policies;
- Room set up; and
- Audio/visual requirements.
9. Set the stage.
- Share information about your group or company to help the speaker become familiar with your organization.
- Let the speaker know in advance what other presenters will participate to allow her/him to build on (and not duplicate) what others say.
- Make sure the room is set for optimum impact. Also consider room temperature and lighting.
- Stay on schedule. Although a professional will be able to make up time or slow things down if needed, keeping your program on schedule will allow your audience to get the full impact of the program the speaker has created for them.
- Work with the speaker to ensure a crisp personal and topic introduction that is short, energizing and creates positive expectations.
10. Evaluate the results.
Have your audience complete evaluations on the speaker and her/his presentation. This will allow you to gauge your results and plan for future programs. It will also help the speaker understand even better how s/he performs.