Choosing the right speaker for your next event can make the difference between a memorable event and a forgettable one. A public speaker should add something unique to your event and capture the attention of your audience.
Ask yourself these two key questions when choosing a public speaker:
Who is your target audience?
What is the purpose of the event?
As in every decision, keep your company’s budget in mind and be realistic about who will be interested in showing up to speak. Famous speakers tend to charge a lot (up to $100,000) just to show up, and at that point, the fee is mostly for their celebrity status.
Research reviews of the speaker you are considering to get an idea of what they are like, and ask to see a portfolio of their previous work.
Check out the speaker's website or profile on SpeakerHub. There you can find their biography, social media accounts, and information about what type of public speaking they specialize in — whether they’re a workshop facilitator, minister, consultant, MC, or leadership, relationship, or business coach.
This is a great way to get a feel for the different speakers and see who you are comfortable with. You can also ask for a speaker recommendation from a friend or colleague.
What type of speaker should you hire?
Once you've determined the purpose of your event and the audience, you can begin the process of choosing a speaker who will best fit your needs.
Before you choose a speaker, ask yourself what type of speaker you need.
There are four types of speakers to consider:
1. The entertainer
“Whatever you do, always give 100% — unless you’re donating blood.” —Bill Murray
These speakers are generally humorous and engaging. With clever wordplay and dazzling metaphorical gymnastics, they will help your audience have a good time and leave with a smile on their face. The entertaining speaker will keep the mood lighthearted and hopefully make their audience laugh.
Without a doubt, these speakers are great for parties and other events where you don't need to present information. They’re perfect for celebratory events, weddings, and any other event where the goal is to have fun.
While these speakers are usually the best choice for casual events, depending on the purpose of your event and your audience, they could add value to a serious event as well. Above all, entertaining speakers will keep the audience laughing and add a personal touch.
2. The technical speaker
“When you're teaching a hard concept and the students all have puzzled looks on their faces and then suddenly you can see that 'aha' moment, that they got it, that's just an incredible thing.” —Anant Agarwal
A technical speaker will give a presentation that explains a concept in a way that is easily understood by the audience.
These speakers are experts in their field and will add valuable information and knowledge to your event. They are usually the best choice for business events, conferences, and educational events.
Technical speakers are knowledgeable about their topic and prepared to answer questions from the audience. They will typically present a topic in a way that is both informative and entertaining. They are also great for providing information to those who have little or no experience with the topic.
These speakers will dive into a topic and explain it in depth. They can break down a concept and explain it in a way that is easy for a layperson to understand.
3. The inspirational speaker
“I never met a bitter person who was thankful. Or a thankful person who was bitter.” —Nick Vujicic
The inspirational speaker will often share a personal experience to inspire the audience, like a struggle they overcame or a success story they’re proud of. They will leave the audience motivated and feeling a sense of hope.
These speakers will encourage the audience to be more positive and make better decisions. They might also provide tips to, for example, help everyone in attendance become better people.
The inspirational speaker will break the mold and provide attendees with something new. They can bring a fresh perspective to your event and create a memorable experience for the audience.
4. The thought leader
“In our world, we have this huge focus on vicarious living — politicians, movie stars, athletes, coaches, all these people. What our research has shown very clearly is that people who are really happier and have more meaningful lives are people that focus on living their own lives.” —Marshall Goldsmith
A thought leader typically will combine elements from the three other types of speakers, and they may have celebrity status in the speaker community. The thought leader is a great choice for a presentation that is designed to stimulate thought and discussion.
However, thought leaders are the most difficult type of public speaker to find. Due to demand, they are often unavailable and can be expensive. If you manage to book one, they will provide the audience with fresh information that adds value to the event. They have the ability to encourage an audience to think outside the box.
If you are a small business owner, you might have a restricted budget, so a non-famous but entertaining speaker will help keep your audience happy and will likely be the easiest to find.
If you are hosting a conference or educational event, then you'll want a technical speaker who is knowledgeable and will provide your audience with useful information.
In cases where you have the resources, a thought leader or celebrity entertainer can elevate the experience for their audience. But in the end, the most important thing is to choose the speaker that will add the most value to your event.