An Insider’s Guide to Getting More From Professional SpeakersMarch 1, 2015

March 1, 2015

An Insider’s Guide to Getting More From Professional Speakers

Steinberg,Scott-TechSavvyGlobalScott Steinberg is an award-winning professional speaker. A best-selling expert on leadership and innovation, Steinberg is the author of Make Change Work for You: 10 Ways to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed Despite Uncertainty. Steinberg is among today’s leading providers of keynote speeches, workshops and seminars for Fortune 500 firms. His website is

Thinking about hiring a professional speaker for your next business meeting, conference or event? It may help to understand where expert presenters best fit into keynote schedules, breakout tracks or larger overarching programs, and how these individuals can maximize audience awareness and empathy. Several factors are involved in choosing and retaining the services of leading authorities, and best leveraging these practitioners, all of which can weigh into the decision of whether or not to utilize their services. Following, you’ll find several hints, tips and strategies for deciding whether to retain a pro keynote speaker for your occasion, how to select the best fit and ensure that the process runs smoothly from end to end.

What Do Professional Speakers Do?

Professional speakers appear at events with the specific goal of reinforcing key program themes (i.e. providing “keynote” speeches that cement the tone and topic for the event) and driving positive change and growth in attendees. Common goals they’re tasked with include engendering support and enthusiasm for specific topics or initiatives, ensuring that teams are on the same page, and showing organizations and individuals how to overcome challenges and achieve peak performance. Presenters essentially aim to provide fresh insight and perspective, and provide both a shift in mindset and actionable tools that enable viewers to embrace professional transformations and personal growth.

Equipped to deliver inspiring messages in the form of keynote speeches, breakouts, seminars and workshop sessions, speakers are available in every field. Programs typically touch on a variety of professional topics from change management to leadership, sales, teamwork, marketing and more. Often, speakers are subject-matter experts, thought leaders or best-selling authors — credibility is key when establishing audience trust. However, leaving egos at the door is essential when delivering presentations. Ultimately, it is their goal to help both organizations and individuals by delivering thought-provoking solutions that can help all overcome adversity and improve business practices. Common types of motivational speakers include:

  • Industry or community thought leaders.
  • Best-selling authors and TV presenters.
  • Brand-name authorities or celebrities.
  • Training and development professionals.
  • Futurists and trend experts.

Many offer a preset range of presentations to choose from. But to maximize impact, you’ll wish to request a customized program that’s tailored to incorporate both personalized business insights and the event’s corresponding theme. Crafting programs to match your organization and audience allows presentations and messages to better resonate with attendees, provide better context and make it possible to provide actionable steps for audience members.

When weighing the decision to hire an event speaker, take into account your objectives, the role that presenters will help play in meeting them and the shape of presentations. As an example, a program designed to provide positive skills transfer for managers should differ greatly from one meant to inspire awareness for brand repositionings or new organizational initiatives.

Maximizing Speaking Programs

All speakers possess their own presentation style, from informative to comical to arresting. In all cases, grabbing and maintaining an audience’s attention is crucial during a 60- to 90-minute speech, seminar or lengthier workshop program.

However, successful motivational speakers will always listen before they speak, getting to know organizations and key stakeholders, listening to their concerns and challenges, and understanding their marketplace and corporate culture. By doing so, they can format their speech around these specifics and include stakeholder or audience feedback, thereby heightening viewer empathy and interest. A truly exceptional speaker is also a great researcher and consultant, and will not deliver a generic speech at each event they attend. Such experts will always customize their message to the needs of their client — i.e. you, the meeting planner — in order to provide maximum value.

“Think of the speaker’s services as an investment in your organization’s future.”

While presentation styles differ among speakers, an effective presenter will look to connect with their audience by pairing substance with storytelling. In addition to everyday anecdotes, it’s vital to incorporate case studies or industry trends into speeches to paint a compelling business picture. But care must be taken not to bombard listeners with facts and figures as well — introducing everyday real-life examples that underscore featured points allows presenters to connect with a wider cross-section of individuals and allows these viewers to better comprehend the material.

Speakers also should offer key next steps and strategies for improvement that audience members can act upon immediately. By explaining to viewers where to turn for further research and insight when pursuing topics, a speaker can help attendees effect ongoing change and circumvent perceived limitations.

Ways to Best Utilize Speakers

As a major part of the decision to retain a professional speaker’s services, consider the role you wish presenters to play at your special event. Many potential options are available. Looking to achieve myriad objectives, planners will often opt for a combination of presentation methods (i.e. keynote and breakout, half-day workshop and master class, lunch speech and panel discussion).

Common goals that speakers can facilitate:

  • Setting a positive tone for new programs or ventures; reinforcing event themes in ways that prove empowering.
  • Providing authoritative insight into new markets, trends and topics.
  • Inspiring teams to heightened levels of performance, and driving ongoing growth and development.
  • Engaging and inspiring attendees, helping engender enthusiasm, provide fresh perspective and insight.
  • Raising awareness and support for topics, trends and ventures of interest throughout the organization.
  • Educating and delivering learning and skills transfer.

Possible program options you might retain speakers to assist with include, but are not limited to: keynote speeches, breakout sessions, workshops, seminars, question and answer sessions, after-meal presentations, training programs, master classes, panels, meet and greets, case studies and book signings.

Why Choose a Motivational Speaker?

Are you rolling out new programs, initiatives or business ventures, or looking to promote heightened awareness for specific topics? A keynote presenter can help solidify and secure organization-wide support for these efforts through inspirational stories and expert advice, or provide crucial insights that allow teams to overcome challenges like never before. Therefore the choice of professional speaker you add to your itinerary can be a decision that’s every bit as vital as the theme, venue and setup for the occasion.

Wondering where to find a pro keynote presenter and how to select the best fit for the program? Start by clearly defining a purpose, topic and vision for your event, then ask professional colleagues for speaking references and recommendations. Consider audience demographics and the type of speaker most likely to connect with them.

It’s also important to align speakers and topics with stakeholders’ overall expectations for the program up front. In many cases, a speaker’s bureau can aid with selection and help you manage the process from beginning to end.

Once you’ve chosen the right motivational speaker for your meeting or event, embrace their words of wisdom and advice, and encourage your employees to do the same. Think of the speaker’s services as an investment in your organization’s future. By adopting new ideas and advice from these thought leaders, your organization can reach new heights and potential — a partnership made possible through your direct support and effort. C&IT

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