3 Questions to Ask Yourself When Selecting Event Speakers July 03, 2019 | By Callie Walker | event planning, Association Views

Event speakers are often just as important as the event itself. In fact, for some events, such as conferences, the speakers can make (or break) the event. 

So when selecting speakers, aside from the content topic and presentation style, what else should you consider to land on those top-notch presenters? Here are three questions worth asking yourself:

1. Has this person spoken at many *overlapping* industry events before?

You definitely want to choose an event speaker with experience. And you also want to choose someone who’s an expert in the industry (or at least in regards to what they’re talking about). But it’s important to ask yourself if this person has spoken at many overlapping industry-events. 

What do we mean by overlapping? Well, events that your attendees may have also attended. While you want someone with experience, you also want someone new that a majority of your members haven’t heard before. The more unique your speaker lineup is, the more unique your conference will become – in the best way possible!

2. Will this person be just a speaker, or will they be more of a partner in this event?

There are some speakers out there who show up to speak and then immediately leave. Sometimes they have to (due to other speaking engagements) – and that’s completely understandable! But do know that there are speakers out there who get just involved as other attendees. They attend sessions, they live tweet, they network. They even promote your event in the months, weeks, and days leading up to it. Those types of speakers are more than just speakers. They’re partners. And those types of partners can take your event from good to great. 

Now it can be hard to know just off the top of your head how involved a speaker will really be in your event. But consider asking them for a few references and then asking those event planners what they thought. Chances are, they won’t steer you wrong.

3. Does this person understand your audience, AND will they be willing to tweak their presentation to better suit your audience?

This applies to keynote presentations, in particular. Someone may speak a lot, but the audience at every event is different. Is this person going to deliver a cookie-cutter presentation or will they be willing to tweak certain aspects of their presentation – for example, the antidotes they tell or the examples they give – to better resonate with your audience?

Ask them about this upfront. Debrief them on your audience and ask them how their presentation will specifically speak to that crowd. Their comfort level in answering that question (plus, how they actually answer that question) will tell you everything you need to know. 

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